Hannah Waters's blog

The Oil Spill, Two Years Later

Oiled Seaweed after the Gulf Oil Spill
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Two years ago last week, on April 20, 2010, an explosion on the oil-drilling rig Deepwater Horizon caused the largest marine oil spill in history, gushing nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil over the course of three months.

And, since then, researchers have been hard at work to understand how the oil spill impacted life in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s too soon to say whether the ecosystem is out of the red – it’s only been two years, after all! – but many researchers have been shocked at the ecosystem’s recovery.

Shooting the Waves: Tips from a Surf Photographer

The Importance of a Wave
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A great surf photograph appears loose and improvised, like the waves and surfers it depicts. The reality is less spontaneous. The photos that you see in surf magazines rarely happen by accident, and could never be captured without preparation and planning that can start months before—all to capture a moment that lasts a fraction of a second.

December in Malibu

December in Malibu - Drew Richards
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Shooting seascapes often involves hiking on very delicate rock formations near tidepools and reefs full of plant and marine life. The photographer has to be very careful when walking on these rocks, not only for his or her safety, but also to avoid disrupting the natural environment. When I first began shooting seascapes, I'd often get so focused on getting the composition and lighting just right, sometimes I would start rushing and become careless.

Break On Through

Break on Through - Wendy Wolf
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I took this shot at Pfeiffer Beach, my favorite beach in my home state of California. If you aren't familiar with it, it is a very secluded beach in Big Sur where we have some of the most spectacular scenery to be found. Up until somewhat recently, Pfeiffer Beach remained a fairly well kept "secret" of area locals. If you blink an eye, you will miss the entrance to the windy road that takes you from the hairpin curves of Highway 1 down to this very special place.

Last Chance to See Your Photos Alongside Brian Skerry's at NMNH!

Spiders from Mars
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Brian Skerry is a world-renowned underwater photographer and journalist with decades of experience. He combines artistic vision and passion for the ocean with deep knowledge of photographic principles and specialized tools to create powerful and beautiful images.

The Discovery of Two Extreme Sea Stars

Two New Sea Stars
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Recently, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History researcher Chris Mah and collaborators with the British Antarctic Survey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute used molecular tools and a scanning electron microscope to discover two new species of sea stars. These sea stars live across the world from one another, one in Antarctica and one in the North Pacific, yet are closely related species belonging to a brand new family!

Earth Day, Spawned from the Sea

A Different View of Earth
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Sometimes I think that our planet Earth, named for the Old English word for “dry land” (eorthe), should get a new name. Despite our knowledge that more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface is ocean—definitely not “dry land”—we still refer to our home by an 8th century description.

#GulfSpillFlashback: Giving the Gulf Oil Spill the Consideration It Deserves

Official Report on Gulf Oil Spill Released
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On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, setting off the largest accidental marine oil spill in U.S. history. As a result, April 20th of each year is the day to remember the lives taken by the explosion and consider the recovery of Gulf communities and wildlife.

Charles Darwin's Ocean Upwelling

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
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Charles Darwin is so well known he almost needs no introduction. The 19th-century naturalist and geologist spent his life documenting and collecting information on the natural world. From birds to flowers to invertebrates, living and extinct, all species and their distributions held his interest, and he yearned to explain the great diversity of life—the "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful"—that he observed.

The Whale Graveyard Whodunit

The Digsite at Cerro Ballena
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One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic algae can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms (sometimes called "red tides"), which create unhealthy water conditions that can kill animals large and small. In 2013, hundreds of Florida manatees died from eating toxic red algae, which also killed off their usual seagrass food.


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