Science & Environment

Science news

A state record fish was landed last week–and it wasn’t one of the fish that we typically think of when we talk about fishing around the Cape and Islands. It was a wahoo.

A wha-what?

Evolutionary biologist Nicole King
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation /

Stories about our origins exert a powerful draw. Who doesn’t want to know where he or she has come from? Who and what came before? For evolutionary biologist Nicole King, of UC Berkeley, those questions just go back a bit further than for most of us.

What do you call a group of older women advocating for land conservation? Great Old Broads for Wilderness, of course. No joke. Although humor - along with knowledge, experience, and passion - is a key ingredient in the organization's work.

Matthew Mendoza /

There are plenty of fish that fishermen set out to catch–and then there are the ones that fishermen end up catching without meaning to. Fishermen have a name for these kinds of fish, the ones we don’t want to catch. We call them "trash fish."


A new poll finds that eighty percent of Massachusetts residents favor protecting special ocean areas from activities like mining and fishing. A coalition pushing President Obama to create a marine national monument in New England waters say this is one more measure of support. But opponents say the poll was misleading and biased.

It’s not unusual for whales to make headlines around here, but the past couple of months have brought a stream of bad news. In May, a dead minke whale washed up in Maine, followed by the humpback known as Snow Plow in late June. Then, a fin whale carcass showed up on Martha's Vineyard just in time for Fourth of July. A necropsy has confirmed that a baby right whale - one of fourteen calves this year - was killed by a ship strike. Several whales have also been released from entanglements in fishing gear, but the most recent individual may still lose its tail flukes as a result.

Research on deer mice is revealing the genetic underpinnings of complex behaviors.
US Dept. of Agriculture

Nature versus nurture: it’s one of the oldest debates out there. How much of our personality are we born with, and how much develops in response to our experiences? Modern genetics is making it possible to examine these kinds of questions in ever greater detail, and one Harvard researcher is finding genes at work in complex behaviors.

The clinging jellyfish, Gonionemus vertens.
Annette Govindarajan

The sting of a jellyfish can range from a mild annoyance to a life-threatening incident, depending on the species. Reports of severe stings in coastal ponds along the coast of Cape Cod in recent years have sparked concern that a new, more virulent jellyfish may have entered the area. It turns out the jellyfish responsible – known as a clinging jellyfish - may have been here for more than a century.

David Schenfeld /

If you live in one of the areas subject to this year’s biblical plague of gypsy moth caterpillars, then you might be interested in this week’s bird report. Many parts of southeastern Massachusetts are getting hit hard by another major outbreak of this invasive species, originally introduced from Europe in the 1860s.

Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokule'a, greeted by the first mishoon built and launched by Wampanoag of Aquinnah in centuries.
Angela Scionti / WCAI

The traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hokule'a, was built to prove a point: that Polynesian voyagers sailing traditional canoes and using traditional navigation techniques could deliberately journey thousands of miles, against prevailing winds. Forty years ago, it was an idea that many - Hawaiian and otherwise - openly doubted.