Current Event March 17, 2021
Coral reefs, home to fish and plant life in oceans throughout the world, have been severely damaged by climate change, among other human impacts. In the Caribbean Sea, the dead and dying reefs have been taken over by seaweed that has choked out any new coral reefs trying to grow. To tackle the problem of dying reefs and to figure out a way to restore them, scientists paired up with an unlikely partner – the Caribbean king crab. Listen to hear a marine scientist explain how seaweed hurts coral reefs and how crabs may be able to help bring them back.
Current Event February 7, 2021
Listen to hear about a rare hybrid turtle competing in a sea turtle race. Track Maisy’s travels here.
Vocabulary: contender, migration, hybrid
A whale inhales and exhales air through the blowhole at the top of its head. The plume that rises when the whale exhales is made up of blow, a scientific term for whale snot. Whale snot can reveal important information about whale stress, but collecting the snot can be challenging. Listen to hear a scientist describe how she collects whale snot and what it can tell us about how whales are coping with the effects of climate change.
The bowhead whale lives its entire life - which amazingly can span over 200 years - in the frigid Arctic waters near the North Pole. The bowhead whale is unlike most other whales as it doesn’t seasonally migrate in search of warmer waters. A thick layer of blubber and the ability to hold its breath for up to 30 minutes makes it possible for bowhead whales to live in the deep, freezing water. Listen to hear even more incredible facts about this unique ocean mammal.
Hurricanes are huge storms that can cause major damage and destruction. Scientists predict that hurricanes will gain in strength due to climate change. Since nothing can be done to stop hurricanes, scientists are working on methods to better predict hurricanes so that people can prepare well in advance. This audio story describes how climate change affects hurricanes. Listen to hear how hurricanes affect land and why predicting a hurricane is so challenging.
Current Event May 5, 2020
Snapping shrimp produce surprisingly loud noises by clicking their claws. The noises they make are so pronounced that they once led to a Navy investigation. Ocean warming is causing the snapping shrimp clicks to become even louder and more frequent. The increase in ocean noise from this and other human impacts can be disruptive to marine ecosystems where sound is important to survival. Listen to hear what snapping shrimp sound like and learn why their sounds might be helpful to some species and harmful to others.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge area of ocean where hundreds of millions of tons of plastic garbage floats, brought there by a swirling ocean current. Much of the waste comes from single use items like plastic bags, straws, and water bottles. As time passes the trash breaks into smaller fragments but never disappears entirely, posing a threat to ocean life. Listen to hear a reporter describe what this “island of plastic” looks like, and learn what businesses and individuals, including young people, can do to help clean up ocean pollution.
Current Event January 15, 2020
The first person to ever cross the Antarctic alone decided to attempt another dangerous, icy expedition. Colin O’Brady wanted to row from South America to Antarctica with a team of daring travelers. Although he had never rowed before he decided to take this journey, he made sure to prepare himself both mentally and physically for the challenging trip. Listen to learn what motivated O’Brady to go on this thrilling expedition and find out what he needed to do to prepare for it.
Update: Since this story first aired, O’Brady’s team successfully completed the journey across the Drake Passage.
Current Event November 13, 2019
Coral reefs are endangered all around the world. Scientists are working on a variety of solutions to protect these important ecosystems and species. Recently, one Florida-based team was able to successfully breed corals in a lab. This is quite an accomplishment, especially since corals are delicate and require specific conditions to reproduce. Listen to learn how the Florida scientists managed to get corals to breed in a lab, and find out what it might mean for coral reefs around the world.
Current Event October 21, 2019
A recently released United Nations report looks at changes in the world’s oceans caused by a warming climate. The report found that oceans are rising at a faster rate than ever before and becoming more acidic, threatening human and fish populations. Communities that depend on the sea for their food and way of life are especially vulnerable. Listen to learn more about the challenges humans will face as sea levels continue to rise.
Current Event April 3, 2019
When a young diver found thousands of golf balls underwater, she decided to collect them and ask a scientist about the risks they might pose to the marine environment. They began investigating the situation together. Listen to find out what they learned and why the diver thinks “people would be shocked.”
Current Event February 13, 2019
An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.
Current Event July 19, 2017
Earth’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, has had record losses of coral in the last few years. A team of scientists estimate that an average of one-third of the corals along the entire Great Barrier Reef died between March and November of 2016. The global rise in greenhouse gas emissions has made ocean temperatures rise and has contributed to the number of coral that is dying, which is devastating for thousands of species that depend on the reef. Listen to hear more details about the loss of coral and the causes.
Current Event August 25, 2016
A 2,000 year old shipwreck was discovered off the Greek Island of Antikythera. It was full of expensive items such as marble and bronze statues, gold jewelry, perfume bottles and more. It was discovered over 100 years ago, but divers and scientists have recently returned to the wreck with sophisticated diving gear to search for more artifacts. They have found what they believe is not a luxury item but a torpedo-like device made of lead. Listen to hear how the ancient writings by the Greek historian, Thucydides, helped scientists find out how this was used.
Current Event December 28, 2015
The field of bioacoustics, studying the sound of animals, extends far below the surface of oceans. Whale vocalizations can be used as data to track migration and populations. Researchers have found ways to identify which whales are making which sounds. But in oceans, human-made sounds are often louder than other noises, making it hard for marine animals to hear the sounds in their own world. Listen to this story about what can be learned by tracking whale sounds, and how new guidelines are helping whales communicate with each other.
Current Event September 24, 2015
New technology is revolutionizing underwater science. A brand new field is using DNA testing to study and track species diversity in various ecosystems and environments. Biologists can study one liter of seawater and identify the fish that swam through that water. This allows them to study fish and whales without having seen them and without the expense of divers and equipment. But, there are a few issues with some of the data, such as finding the DNA of food that was eaten miles away. Listen to how data from genetic testing can be used to protect marine life, and how it is changing the research process.
Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.
Animals adapt to their environment in ways that protect them from predation and allow them to find prey. Electric eels look like water snakes but use electricity to hunt. New scientific studies have gained insight into how electric eels use different electric volts to find and kill their prey. Listen to learn how the eel’s hunting method is adapted to their environment.