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“Know your Ocean” Science Chats

During July and August, the Ocean Science Discovery Center and Visitor Center are sponsoring a series of public talks by WHOI scientists and engineers. Designed for a lay audience, this series is a great opportunity to learn more about WHOI science. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Date, Time & Place

All talks are held on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm at the WHOI Ocean Science Discovery Center Auditorium, 15 School Street, Woods Hole, MA.


For more information, please contact Kathy Patterson at (508) 289-2700

Know you Ocean
WHOI scientist Henry Dick presents his research at a Science Made Public talk. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Al Pluddeman

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Observing a Complex Coastal Ocean

Al Plueddemann, Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The coastal ocean is a complex, constantly changing place that is difficult for scientists to study, nevertheless, scientists aspire to get more than just intermittent glimpses of this critical part of the ocean. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Coastal Arrays off the East and West Coasts of the U.S. are providing a much-needed long-term view of our nation’s waters at a when time sea level, fisheries, currents and even ocean chemistry are showing signs of change. Come learn about the Pioneer Array south of New England that includes tools such as traditional moorings and autonomous ocean robots, as well as some surprising insights in just the first few years of data from the one of our newest observatories into “inner space.”

ummenhofer and walker

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What New England Whaling Logbooks Can Tell Us About Climate

Caroline Ummenhofer, Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Timothy D. Walker, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Learn how historians and oceanographers are working together to assess historic changes in climate and weather patterns. American whaling logbooks of voyages to the Indian Ocean (c. 1785-1910) contain records of atmospheric conditions such as wind strength and direction, storms, precipitation, air temperature, and pressure. By examining these archival documents, researchers hope to learn how the weather of the Indian Ocean developed during the past 230 years with an aim to address contemporary climate concerns, such as changes in the monsoons, expansion of the subtropical dry zones, and poleward shift of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies. Such trends have large societal implications in surrounding countries vulnerable to floods and droughts.

Dan Zitterbart

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tracking Humpback Whales in Antarctica

Daniel Zitterbart, Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Humpbacks migrate thousands of miles to their feeding ground in the Southern Ocean, yet nothing is known about how these whales find the krill that they consume. WHOI scientists joined an expedition aboard cruise ship Polar Latitudes to study the feeding habits of humpback whales on the Antarctic Peninsula. Using Zodiacs to get close enough to the whales to attach digital recording tags, his team logged whales’ diving and feeding behaviors. They also used fish-finding acoustic systems to correlate the location of the whales with their prey. Learn their findings from this research, accompanied by stunning images of Antarctica, humpback whales, and other sea life encountered in the majestic southern continent.

Masako Tominaga

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Listening Closely to “See” into the Earth

Masako Tominaga, Ocean Bottom Seismic Instrument Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Whenever there is an earthquake, seismologists (scientists that study the nature and characters of seismic wave propagation within the planet Earth) try to tune in, and “listen to” the clue. Earthquakes radiate sound waves that travel through the earth’s interior and along its surface, and scientists can evaluate the processes that control the evolution of the earth’s interior by measuring the speed of these waves. The characteristics of an earthquake itself - such as location, magnitude, fault orientation, and fault slip - provides significant clues in understanding tectonic processes at global and regional scales. Data gained in seismology are critical to understanding the fundamental physics of earthquake initiation and rupture and invaluable to assessing and mitigating the impacts from earthquakes. The Ocean Bottom Seismic Instrument Center (OBSIC) here at WHOI is the nation's science operation headquarters to develop and support state-of-art ocean bottom seismometers that enable scientists to detect earthquakes occurring. Come join us and learn more about how scientists have been listening closely to “see” into the Earth through OBSIC's experiments at sea.

Hauke Kite-Powell


Shellfish Aquaculture: Food and Economic Development in East Africa

Hauke Kite-Powell, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 

To feed a growing population, the world needs more healthy protein from the sea. Nowhere is this more evident than in coastal communities of East Africa. Shellfish farming is an ecologically benign way to produce seafood while providing new economic opportunities, especially for women. Learn how WHOI researchers are working with local universities in Zanzibar, Tanzania to bring the science and technology of shellfish farming to East Africa.

Mark Hahn


Microplastics in the Ocean: Fact or Frenzy?

Mark Hahn, Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Microplastics—small pieces of plastic less than a quarter inch in diameter—are the latest ocean pollutants to raise concern among scientists and the public. Reports about microplastics appear almost daily in the news, and research on microplastics has exploded. Yet we still don’t have answers to many of the most fundamental questions about these pollutants. What are the major sources of microplastics? Where do they go once they enter the ocean? How do they impact marine life? Are they a threat to human health? What is being done about microplastics in the ocean? Learn about WHOI’s Marine Microplastics Initiative and how oceanographic studies can help us better understand—and ultimately solve—this emerging problem.

Abigail Archer


River Herring Network

Abigail Archer, Barnstable County Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Marine Program and Woods Hole Sea Grant

The River Herring Network is a group of river herring wardens from southern Massachusetts that conducts research on how well river herring swim through different types of fish ladders. The network consists of shellfish growers, municipal natural resource managers, shellfish constables, and river herring wardens all working together to carry out monitoring and scientific research projects. Learn about what herring wardens do, and hear Abilgails’ experiences working with these local stewards, including work on the pre- and post- dam removal study in nearby Town Brook, Plymouth.

Sheri White


Deploying and Maintaining the Ocean Observatories Initiative’s Irminger Sea Array

Sheri White, Department of Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WHOI’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) seeks to provide long-term time series data from locations in the coastal and open ocean. Mooring arrays and autonomous gliders are deployed off the east and west coasts of the U.S. and in the Gulf of Alaska and Irminger Sea (off the tip of Greenland). Fresh off the OOI Irminger Sea cruise, Sheri White will talk about the infrastructure and instruments in the Irminger Sea Array and how they are maintained year-to-year, and recount the joys and difficulties of working at sea.