Taxonomy term


Sharks collect storm data

Sharks are among the planet’s most prolific travelers, with some species swimming up to 50 kilometers a day in search of food and mates. Now, a program at the University of Miami plans to harness these top predators’ wandering ways to help study hurricanes.

06 Mar 2015

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Wealth of seafloor features emerges from new survey

A new survey of Earth’s deep ocean — 80 percent of which remains unmapped — has revealed a wealth of previously unknown features, including thousands of seamounts as well as a variety of undersea tectonic features that are either buried under too much sediment or were simply too small to be seen before.

14 Feb 2015

Golden Gate ghost ships rediscovered

Just beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is a shipwreck graveyard where as many as 300 vessels lie in silty underwater repose. A team of NOAA researchers conducting a two-year study to identify and map the long-forgotten ships in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area has announced the discovery of three wrecks: the 1863 wreck of the clipper ship Noonday, the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the “mystery wreck” — all now obscured by mud and silt on the ocean floor.

11 Jan 2015

Oceans: Where has all the plastic gone?

Plastic in the ocean is a growing concern, yet no one knows for sure how much debris is out there, where it is and how it affects marine ecosystems and food chains. Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Puerto Real, Spain, and colleagues recently undertook a meta-study to estimate the abundance and distribution of plastic in the global ocean.

21 Dec 2014

Hundreds of methane seeps discovered along the U.S. East Coast

The release of methane from seafloor sediments may have a significant influence on global climate, but the ubiquity and stability of such pockets is not well understood. Now the discovery of hundreds of methane seeps on the seafloor along the U.S. East Coast suggests that such reservoirs may be more common along passive margins than previously thought. The easily accessible region may prove to be an ideal natural laboratory for studying how such seafloor methane may influence water temperatures and ultimately climate.

07 Dec 2014

Massive icebergs scoured Arctic seafloor

In August 1990, the R/V Polar­stern departed Tromsø, Norway, to investigate the ocean bottom bathymetry of the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard. More than 20 years later, marine geologist Jan Erik Arndt and his colleagues at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, were reviewing data from the cruise when they discovered something new — the deepest evidence of iceberg scouring ever found.

13 Nov 2014

Boron proxies detail past ocean acidification

Pockmarked plankton shells and dead coral are becoming the hallmark images of ocean acidification. But this isn’t the first time seawater has dropped on the pH scale. Based on models of seawater chemistry, the ocean acidity during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), beginning about 56 million years ago, is the closest-known analog to today. Now, researchers using boron proxies preserved in microfossils to reconstruct surface-ocean chemistry suggest that acidification was more extensive and lasted longer than previously thought, although the PETM conditions still don’t outpace the current rate of ocean acidification.

25 Sep 2014

R.I.P. Nereus

Nereus, the United States’ only full-ocean-depth submersible, was lost at sea on May 10, 2014. The unmanned and remotely operated vehicle was capable of reaching the hadal zone, the ocean region 6 to 11 kilometers deep, and was designed, built and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. Nereus was at a depth of 9,990 meters in the Kermadec Trench off New Zealand, the fifth-deepest ocean trench in the world, when it lost contact with researchers aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. Debris later surfaced, which was recovered and determined to be the remains of the vessel. The debris indicated a catastrophic implosion, likely of one or more of the vehicle’s ceramic buoyancy spheres.

04 Sep 2014

Nutrient runoff feeding Baltic Sea dead zone

Low-oxygen, or hypoxic, deep waters now extend over an area of about 60,000 square kilometers in the Baltic Sea, a tenfold increase compared to 115 years ago, according to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The hypoxic zone has fluctuated substantially in that period, but much of the expansion has occurred in recent decades as a result of large inputs of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from human activities such as agriculture, reported Jacob Carstensen of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues.

03 Sep 2014