Science & Environment

Science news

Mark Faherty

Recently, a saltmarsh in Sandwich was visited by an inconspicuous little bird with an incredible migration story to tell. The Northern Wheatear is a rare and obscure visitor to the lower 48 states, despite the fact that it breeds on Arctic tundra from Eastern Canada to Alaska.

Roger Hanlon

We all know camouflage when we see it, or when we don’t, as the case may be. But what does that actually mean?

“Qualitatively, it’s pretty easy for people to say ‘that’s camouflaged’ or ‘it’s not,’” says Roger Hanlon, a senior scientist at MBL, whose research focuses on camouflage in marine animals. “But to grade camouflage or to quantify it somehow, really has hardly ever been attempted until very recently.”

www.onthewater.com/kayak-albies/

Local fishermen will tell you two things about false albacore: they're thrilling to fish for, and they taste terrible.

The first is indisputable.  But the second has long been a lingering question. 

Jayne Doucette / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Oceans cover seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, and there's even more water trapped inside the Earth. Where did it all come from? And when? There have long been two possible answers to those questions: it could have been here since the very beginning, or it could have arrived later, carried by bombarding asteroids and comets.

The prevailing thought has been that the latter is more likely because, when the planets were forming nearly four and a half billion years ago, Earth's neck of the solar system would have been too hot for there to be water around.

Brian Gratwicke bit.ly/2cpuOd7 / bit.ly/1mhaR6e

Menhaden may have a bit of an identity problem. Most of the Northeast refers to them as "bunker." But around Massachusetts they're often known as "pogies." Whatever you decide to call them, they're great bait this time of year for fishing big stripers.

Menhaden are a member of the herring family. They migrate into our waters seasonally, arriving from the south each spring. They grow out to a couple of pounds and about a foot long. They're schooling fish, typically swimming in big schools.

Students from Jonah Maidoff's Resilient Communities course at Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School traveled to the Alaskan Arctic with climate scientists this summer.
Courtesy of Astrid Tilton

Last fall, Jonah Maidoff's Resilient Communities class at Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School was planning a trip to Paris. They were to attend the U.N. climate negotiations and witness history in the making. But the trip was canceled after the November 13th terrorist attacks.

www.flickr.com/photos/cblue98/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

If consciousness is what makes us human, memory – it could be argued – is what defines us as individuals. Each of us carries within our brains a unique set of memories that, together, make up our life stories. But how do we remember? That is the question that drives Erin Schuman.

Paul Goodman bit.ly/2clpvKL / bit.ly/OJZNiI

There are fishermen who wait all fishing season, it seems, for just this time of year. The end of August and beginning of September mean it's time for the arrival of false albacore - also known as the funny fish.

Ed Dunens bit.ly/2bQRhuL / bit.ly/OJZNiI

There’s still a mysterious ornithological frontier in Massachusetts, lying at the ragged fringe of both the state’s boundaries and our knowledge of bird distributions. To get there, you need a mariners constitution and a big boat. And, ideally, a strong stomach. 

Daniel Colon-Ramos is associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience at Yale University.
Courtesy of Daniel Colon-Ramos

Daniel Colón-Ramos got the email just a few hours before he was due to lecture before a class of minority students in neuroscience at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), in Woods Hole. A teaching assistant had been expelled after threatening to burn a cross in front of an African-American student’s home. It’s an incident that might seem shocking to many, but to Colón-Ramos, it was the response that stood out.

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