Tag Archives: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Maine’s having a lobster boom. A bust may be coming.

The waters off Maine’s coast are warming, and no one knows what that’s going to mean for the state’s half-billion-dollar-a-year lobster industry, the largest single-species fishery in North America. Some fear that continued warming could cause the lobster population to collapse. The Gulf of Maine, an ocean body brimming with marine life, is cradled by Cape Cod in the south and the Bay of Fundy in the north, and bounded in the east by two underwater shoals, George’s Bank and Brown’s Bank. In 2015, climate scientist Andy Pershing, formerly of the Portland-based nonprofit Gulf of Maine Research Institute, published a paper in Science concluding that the gulf was warming faster than “99% of the global ocean.” That eye-popping revelation was enough to keep fisheries managers and a whole lot of Mainers awake at night. >click to read< 16:27

Whales Are Shrinking. Scientists Blame Commercial Fishing Gear

The findings, published today in the journal Current Biology, reveal that when fully grown, a North Atlantic right whale born today would be expected to be about one meter shorter than a whale born in 1980. The stunted growth of the whales coincides with an increasing rate of entanglements. A 2012 study from the New England Aquarium revealed,,, Researchers acknowledge that entanglements do not explain all of the reduced growth. Other factors might be climate change, collisions and noise from ships, and the shifting availability of tiny crustaceans called copepods, their primary food source. >click to read< 13:30

Pile driving for constructing offshore wind turbine supports alters feeding behaviors of longfin squid

With the offshore wind industry expanding in the United States and elsewhere, a new study raises questions about how the noise from impact pile driving to install turbine supports can affect feeding behaviors of longfin squid, a commercially and ecologically important cephalopod.,, The study addressed short-term impacts to squid feeding behavior and noted that future research should look at longer exposures to noise and field work with  free-swimming squid. In particular, the study found that rates of anti-predator behaviors were similar when subjected to recordings of piledriving whether the squid was hunting at the start of the noise, suggesting that the noise diverted squid attention from a feeding task toward predator defense. >click to read< 14:13

‘Irreversible losses’: Wildlife expert fears for North Sea habitat – The North Sea off Suffolk could be facing “irreversible wildlife losses” because of the impact on its environment of the growing number of windfarms. >click to read<

Fishing less could be a win for both lobstermen and endangered whales – they never mention ship strikes

A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that New England’s historic lobster fishery may turn a higher profit by operating with less gear in the water and a shorter season. The findings could provide a path forward for the lobster fishing industry, which is under pressure to move away from traditional pot fishing that uses long vertical lines of rope known to entangle and kill endangered North Atlantic right whales and other protected species. The study was published this week in the journal Marine Policy. “The story the data tells is optimistic,” says lead author Hannah Myers, a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a guest student at WHOI. “Entanglements often cause chronic injury, stress, and even starvation if the animal doesn’t immediately drown,” says Michael Moore, a coauthor of the paper and director of WHOI’s Marine Mammal Center. >click to read<  12:06

Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct. – >click to read<

North Atlantic Right Whale: How to kill a species with Fake News, from National Geographic of all places! – >click to read<

Federal study surveys spawning Atlantic Cod – Research area sits in waters zoned for offshore wind projects.

NOAA, the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology are all participating in the study, which is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The research is focused on what may be one of the last remaining major seasonal spawning gatherings in the Northwest Atlantic, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries. “It’s certainly been a persistent spawning aggregation and there are not many in New England,” said fisheries scientist Steve Cadrin, principal investigator on the project for the School of Marine Science and Technology. Atlantic cod populations are at historic lows, hammered by chronic overfishing and climate change. >click to read< 07:06

Exposure to pile driving noise associated with construction of docks, piers, offshore wind farms, cause squid to exhibit strong alarm behaviors

“This study is the first to report behavioral effects of pile driving noise on any cephalopod, a group including squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses,” says lead author Ian Jones, a student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. Jones and his colleagues in the Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab at WHOI exposed longfin squid (Doryteuthis pealeii) to pile driving sounds originally recorded near the construction site of the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.  >click to read< 11:52

At the Ropeless Consortium’s second annual meeting

Scientists, fishermen and policy makers met on Wednesday in Maine to discuss this issue at the Ropeless Consortium’s second annual meeting. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium will continue the discussion of right whale conservation at their annual meeting Thursday and Friday.,,, “We here at the aquarium have been working hard on looking at reducing rope strengths and trying to get rope-less fishing as an option to reduce risk,” said Amy Knowlton, a Ropeless Consortium board member and senior scientist at the New England Aquarium. >click to read< 10:35

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund Commits $900,000 to Protect Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales –  The announcement was made by Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, during yesterday’s 2019 Ropeless Consortium meeting, >click to read<

Eighteen scientists, environmentalist, blast Maine lobstermen’s stand on whale safety

“Reducing entanglement in East Coast waters of the United States is a critical part of a comprehensive strategy for right whale survival and recovery,” Scott Kraus, chief scientist for marine mammals at New England Aquarium’s Anderson Center for Ocean Life, and Mark Baumgartner, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chairman of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, said in a letter Tuesday to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. >click to read<  19:44

The costs of depredation: Underwater Cameras Tackle Tough Questions for Fishery

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) are working with local fishermen on Cape Cod to understand exactly what happens when seals and other marine mammals invade a fishing net to forage.,,, The costs of depredation—when marine animals prey on fish caught in nets—can be high on both fronts. On the economic side, it can reduce the amount of sell-able fish and lead to torn fishing nets. “A five-inch opening in the net can quickly become a 15-inch hole when a seal gets caught and tries to free itself,” said Doug Feeney, a commercial fisherman based in Chatham, Massachusetts. >click to read< 12:30

BOURNE: Lobstermen seek help in protecting right whales, Testimony cites burden on local industry.

Commercial lobstermen urged federal regulators Wednesday to take Canada to task for its failure to protect North Atlantic right whales and to remember that local lobstermen carrier a heavier burden of regulation than others in U.S. waters. “We as lobstermen do not want to see harm come to the right whale,” Plymouth lobsterman Tom O’Reilly said at a public forum at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, the eighth in a series of meetings held this month,,, >click to read<08:40

Ropeless lobster fishing? Stakeholders get a progress report

The Ropeless Consortium, a group of scientists and other interested stakeholders hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, met Nov. 6 to consider the prospects of ropeless fishing to reduce whale entanglements with lobster gear. “It was very cool to see how advanced the technology is and the many companies and groups working on development around the world,” Zack Klyver, lead naturalist for Bar Harbor Whale Watch, who attended the meeting, told the Mount Desert Islander. >click to read<10:30

Ocean acidification may reduce sea scallop fisheries

Each year, fishermen harvest more than $500 million worth of Atlantic sea scallops from the waters off the east coast of the United States. A new model created by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), however, predicts that those fisheries may potentially be in danger. As levels of carbon dioxide increase in the Earth’s atmosphere, the upper oceans become increasingly acidic—a condition that could reduce the sea scallop population by more than 50% in the next 30 to 80 years, under a worst-case scenario. Strong fisheries management and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, however, might slow or even stop that trend. >click to read<16:26

New Brunswick Crab fishermen to test ropeless fishing

New Brunswick snow crab fishermen will test two ropeless trap methods this spring to reduce the use of the fishing rope blamed in the deaths of two North Atlantic right whales last year.,,Mark Baumgartner, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said ropeless fishing is the solution to the entanglement problem.,, Robert Haché, director general of the Acadian Crabbers Association, said the fishermen want to do all they can to prevent entanglements.,, The techniques to be tested this season will be from U.S.-based technology and research companies, Haché said. >click to read< 10:13

Gear is in wrong place for right whales, scientists say

Speaking at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on Friday,,, The NOAA Fisheries Large Whale Take Reduction Team recently established separate working groups to study two proposals to reduce the risk of entanglement: splicing several 1,700-pound breaking strength “weak link” sleeves into vertical lines such as those that connect lobster buoys to traps; and removing those ropes altogether by requiring the use “ropeless” fishing gear. Those working groups will focus on whether either solution is technologically feasible, whether it will actually work for fishermen, and whether it can be cost effective for fishermen.,, >click to read<10:32

Remember when we were told “Penguins Don’t Migrate, they’re dying!” ? – never mind

WUWT readers may remember this story from last year, where Chris Turney, leader of the ill fated “ship of fools” Spirit of Mawson expedition that go stuck in Antarctic sea ice said: “Penguins Don’t Migrate, they’re dying!” and of course blamed the dreaded “climate change” as the reason. Of course three days later, Discover Magazine ran an article that suggested Turney was full of Penguin Poop. Well, seems there’s a surplus of Penguins now, in a place nobody thought to look, there’s an extra 1.5 million Penguins. From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. >click to read< 18:03

Cape Cod environmentalists plan to wreck their lobster Industry to save the whales

Scientists trying to convince New England lobstermen to invest in “ropeless fishing” to cut the risk current fishing methods pose to northern right whales, The Boston Globe reported. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say ropeless fishing will allow lobstermen to continue in their livelihood, but without long ropes running from buoys on the ocean’s surface to lobster traps on the ocean floor.,,, Scientists warn if this technology is not pursued, the only other option to save the whales is government regulation of fishing seasons and areas, which would devastate the industry much more than ropeless fishing. >click to read< 09:07

Feeling the Heat in the NW Atlantic

Rising temperatures along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean will force American lobsters (H. americanus) farther offshore and into more northern waters, according to a new study led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Climate models project that bottom temperatures in the Atlantic along the U.S. East Coast may rise by up to 4.3 °C (7.7 °F) by the end of the century. “That’s a significant change, and lobsters are particularly sensitive to warming water temperatures,” says WHOI researcher Jennie Rheuban,, >click here to read< 15:30

Ropeless traps could help mitigate right whale deaths, says U.S. scientist

A U.S. scientist is working on trying to stop right whale entanglements with fishing gear, which garnered increased attention after a spate of deaths this past summer. Mark Baumgartner, a biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., has been studying North Atlantic right whales since 1999.,, One of the problems is that modern ropes are much stronger and last longer than they used to be and don’t break as easily when they come into contact with large sea animals. click here to read the story 13:49
Whale-safe Fishing Gear – New buoy for lobster traps could prevent entanglements click here to read the story

North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium – scientists say Right whales could be 20 years away from certain extinction

Scientists at an annual meeting for North Atlantic right whales estimate the species has a little over two decades left to survive unless changes are made immediately. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium’s annual meeting was held in Halifax on Sunday, and all of the scientists spoke with a sense of urgency about the fate of these whales. This summer, at least 15 right whales died in Canadian and U.S. waters and scientists at the conference stressed that human activity is the primary cause of death for all right whales. click here to read the story 11:21

Preliminary findings of necropsies -Two whales suffered blunt trauma, another killed by fishing gear

Injuries suffered by at least two of six North Atlantic right whales found floating lifeless in the Gulf of St. Lawrence appear to be consistent with ship strikes, marine mammal experts say. Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society said Tuesday that the preliminary findings of necropsies on three of the whales indicate that two of them sustained blunt traumas that caused extensive bruising along their sides and internal hemorrhaging. A third died after becoming snarled in fishing rope that wrapped around one flipper and inside its mouth. click here to read the story ,,,, Whale deaths raise concern – The first dead whale spotted on June 6 was a 10-year-old male who was last seen in Cape Cod Bay on April 23 by the Center for Coastal Studies. The elapsed time between those sightings was only about six weeks. The other identified dead whales included two adult males, at least 17 and 37 years old, and a highly valuable 11-year-old female. Through DNA analysis, two of the males were known to have sired calves. The two remaining unidentified whales were a male and a female. click here to read the story 14:11

Fukushima radiation not cause for alarm in US

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan has reached North American shores, but — despite a number of reports shared on social media— scientists say the levels of radiation are so low that it poses no risk to public health. Late last year, researchers announced that Cesium-134 was discovered in waters off the coast of Oregon and in one sockeye salmon in a British Columbia lake.  The news reports have been used as the basis for viral stories about the radiation. One story from alternativemediasyndicate.com carried the headline: “Fukushima Radiation: Your Days of Eating Pacific Ocean Fish Are Over, Or Worse.” Another story from organicandhealthy.org labeled the discovery of the salmon as “bad news for everyone” and described the U.S. West Coast as “contaminated.” Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Massachusetts’ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has traveled to Japan numerous times since 2011 to study the Fukushima disaster’s effect on seawater. continue reading the story here 18:19

Fukushima radiation has reached U.S. shores – Poses no danger to humans or the environment, they say.

636167180823023788-gettyimages-514294068For the first time, seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States. Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are reporting. Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima. Also for the first time, cesium-134 has been detected in a Canadian salmon, the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, is reporting. In both cases, levels are extremely low, the researchers said, and don’t pose a danger to humans or the environment. Read the rest here 16:53

Whale-safe Fishing Gear?

More and more whales are becoming snarled in fishing gear, often dying slow, painful deaths. Two Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) engineers have invented a lobster trap device that they say could help whales avert entanglements and, at the same time, might allow currently restricted waters to be safely reopened for lobster fishing. In New England’s offshore lobster fishery, long vertical ropes or “lines” connect the traps on the bottom to floats on the water’s surface, so fishermen can locate their trawls and drag them back up. “The number of vertical lines in offshore areas is fairly staggering—about 20,000,” said WHOI engineer Keenan Ball who designed the new device with WHOI engineer Jim Partan. Read the story here 09:49

Sustaining Sea Scallops

SUSTAINING SEA SCALLOPS is a 35-minute documentary on the history and resurgence of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, seen through the eyes of fishermen and researchers. In 1999, facing fisheries closures and bankruptcy, the scallop industry began funding a unique research program to minimize impacts on the marine environment. Fifteen years later, the Atlantic sea scallop is hailed as one of the most sustainable and lucrative fisheries in the world. From New Bedford, Massachusetts to Seaford, Virginia, fishermen and researchers tell a rare tale of renewal, offering cooperative research as a new model for sustaining healthy fisheries and fishing communities. A Connecticut fishermen describes tough times when trawl fishing went bust, and what changed once scallops started to rebound. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science explain how gear innovations and better surveys ensure scallop future harvests while reducing needless harm to other species and habitat. At the heart of it all, a former NOAA Fisheries captain-turned-farmer works to increase fishermen’s access to these technologies through his non-profit research organization, the Coonamessett Farm Foundation. Watch the video here 09:52

Fishermen, Scientists Collaborate to Collect Climate Data

ShelfFleetTraining1_CFRF-800_428393Fishermen plying the waters off the southern New England coast have noticed significant changes in recent years.  Though generations of commercial fishermen have made their livings on these highly productive waters, now, they say, they are experiencing the impacts of climate change. “The water is warming up, and we see different species around than we used to,” says Kevin Jones, captain of the F/V Heather Lynn, which operates out of Point Judith, Rhode Island. To help understand the ongoing changes in their slice of the ocean, Jones and other fishermen in the region are now part of a fleet gathering much-needed climate data for scientists through a partnership with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Video Read the rest here 10:02

Scientists find a crab party deep in the ocean

A year ago, researchers in two small submarines were exploring a seamount — an underwater, flat-topped mountain — off the Pacific coast of Panama when they noticed a dense cloud of sediment extending 4 to 10 meters above the seafloor. One of the submarines approached closer, and the scientists could soon see what was kicking up the cloud: thousands of small, red crabs that were swarming together like insects. At the densest points in the swarm, there were more than 70 crabs in a square meter of ocean bottom, and this occurred consistently in a water depth of 350 to 390 meters. The crabs, all 2.3 centimeters in carapace length and larger, were moving together in the same general direction. Some would jump and swim for about 10 centimeters or so before landing back in the pack. Video, Read the rest here 09:41

Five Years After Fukushima, Ocean Radiation Poses Little Risk to U.S.

March 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant explosion in Japan. More than 80 percent of the radioactive material from the explosion leaked into the Pacific Ocean, released via groundwater. Dr. Ken Buesseler, an oceanographer, has spent the five years since Fukushima investigating the effects of the disaster on ocean radioactivity, through research funded by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He and his team have also sampled water near the West Coast to see if the effects of the disaster have been felt in the U.S. Read the rest here 07:51

New Study: Scientists unravel whale entanglement damage

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have released a new study documenting how much damage entanglements in fishing gear does to North Atlantic right whales — one of the most endangered of all the large whale species. Their migratory routes take them through some of the busiest commercial fishing areas along the East Coast of the United States — including the Gulf of Maine — and into . According to the institution scientists, entanglements with fishing gear represent the leading cause of death for endangered whales. Read the article here, 18:32

Gulf Stream ring water intrudes onto continental shelf like ‘Pinocchio’s nose’

Ocean robots installed off the coast of Massachusetts have helped scientists understand a previously unknown process by which warm Gulf Stream water and colder waters of the continental shelf exchange. The process occurs when offshore waters, originating in the tropics, intrude onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf and meet the waters originating in regions near the Arctic. This process can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry and fisheries. “I showed the glider data to a group of commercial fisherman back in April, in Rhode Island, and they were very surprised,” Read the rest here 11:05

HabCamV4 sees large numbers of young scallops off Delaware Bay

habcamv4sees“We’re seeing many swimming scallops and other behaviors that are providing insights into how the animals live and interact in that environment,” Hart said. “Baby scallops are seen attached to adults, and other scallops are swimming above the bottom, perhaps to diffuse to areas that are less dense and provide more room to grow.” The NEFSC’s annual sea scallop survey is conducted in three segments or “legs,” each ranging from 11 to 14 days, between May and July, beginning with the Mid-Atlantic Bight, then Southern New England and ending on Georges Bank. Read the rest here 15:10