ocean science

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the Repbublic of Kiribati gives some ocean watchers reason for optimism
Sea Education Association / bit.ly/2ramaT0

What if saving the oceans is a matter of changing our mindset?

That’s the question nagging at Jeff Wescott, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole.

“One thing that really interests me is how the ocean compels us to think about the future,” Wescott told Living Lab Radio. “It’s sort of a medium for thinking about where we are going as a species.”

Juvenile sugar kelp on an Ocean Approved farm in the Gulf of Maine.
Brittney Honisch / Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

We tend to think of spring as planting time, but kelp farmers in the Gulf of Maine are in the midst of their annual harvest right now. Growers and ocean researchers say kelp could be a huge win-win-win – improving the local environment, boosting other fisheries, and all while providing a saleable food source.

Ten  years ago, there were no kelp farms in the northeast. Now, there are more than a dozen. So, what gives?

Many underwater vehicles developed at WHOI have been spun off as for-profit companies.
Elsa Partan

Later this week, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will accept one of three 2017 Vision Awards given by Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s largest employer association.  

With about a thousand employees, WHOI is one of the largest employers on Cape Cod. But Mark Abbott, the Oceanographic’s president and director, says WHOI’s contributions go beyond the direct employment at the institution. 

The Gulf Oil Spill highlighted the need for better working relationships between academic scientists, industry, and government.
U.S. Coast Guard / Public Domain

War is generally pretty bad for the environment, and, understandably, the environment is not one of the military’s top priorities when at war. But more Navy officials are now asking questions about how to tread a bit more lightly on the environment, and some are getting scientists outside the military involved.

Chris Reddy is one example. He's a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who specializes in oil spills, and last year, he got an email from a Navy lieutenant commander asking for his help.

Salt Marshes Help Keep Us Above Water

Jan 23, 2017
A salt marsh on Plum Island, Mass.
S. Bond

We’ve learned recently from scientists at Umass Amherst that New England will probably experience more warming than the rest of the planet in the near future.

Most of the plastic in the ocean is smaller than your pinkie fingernail - microbeads, and pieces of broken plastic.
5 Gyres Institute

You may have heard that there’s a floating island of plastic trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The truth is, there isn’t. In fact, the problem is far more insidious, more akin to smog. One estimate found that there are hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic - more than five trillion pieces, most about the size of a grain of rice - floating around in the world’s oceans.

Humans are taking a toll on ocean ecosystems – pollution, overfishing, climate change. Jeremy Jackson has watched human impacts sap the ability of Caribbean coral reefs to recover from natural disasters. But he says the greatest threat to ocean health is right inside our heads.

When Jackson first started studying coral reefs in the late 1960s, he was drawn by their beauty, by the fun and excitement of learning new things about corals. Over time, he and colleagues began to notice changes caused by human impacts.

Caine Delacy

Emily Callahan was working at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 when she noticed something strange. The workers said they couldn’t wait to get back to fishing near oil rigs. She thought they were crazy until they told her, “That’s where the fish are.”

That experience started her down the path of promoting a program that lets companies turn old oil rigs into artificial reefs that support a surprising array of sea life.

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.

@ProtectNewEnglandOceanTreasures

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.

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