Pollution

Humans take a huge toll on the environment in a variety of forms. Small plastic pieces make their way to the ocean where they are consumed by fish. Oils spills occur and nutrient runoff can have a huge impact on coastal ecosystems.

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Oil Drilling Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

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Gulf Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill is recognized as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Within days of the April 20, 2010 explosion and...

Science in a Time of Crisis: Searching for the Plume

Part 4 of a 6-part series describing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's efforts to understand the scope and impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "Searching for the Plume" describes...

Science in a Time of Crisis: Tracking the Currents

Part 5 of a 6-part series describing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's efforts to understand the scope and impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "Tracking the Currents" follows work...

Science in a Time of Crisis: Assessing the Impacts

Part 6 of a 6-part series describing WHOI's efforts to understand the scope and impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "Assessing the Impacts" describes a range of work...
Woods Hole researchers sample oil from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists From Woods Hole Respond to Gulf Oil Spill

Woods Hole scientists operate an ROV at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to sample the oil from the ruptured well. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Soon after the April 20, 2010,...
Plastic bottles and other marine debris cover a rocky beach in Curacao.

Ocean Trash: Marine Debris From Shore to Sea

While conducting field work in Curaçao in 2011, Smithsonian researchers encountered trash along remote beaches and deep in the water column. This video gives a brief glimpse of some of the marine debris they...

Trash on the Beach and in the Ocean

While conducting field work in Curaçao in 2011, Smithsonian researchers encountered trash along remote beaches and deep in the water column. This video gives a brief glimpse of some of the marine debris they...
A student uses a marker to decorate a reusable lunch bag with ocean creatures

Teaching Your Students About Marine Debris: a Classroom Activity

A student decorates a reusable bag as part of "Design Your Own Bag," a marine debris activity hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Have you ever gone to...
The currents of the North Pacific gyre collect trash—mostly bits of microscopic plastic—into what are known as "garbage patches."

Ocean Trash Plaguing Our Sea

Garbage patches in the ocean aren't piled-up islands of trash and debris, as is the common perception. But that doesn't mean the tiny, swirling plastic bits are nothing to worry about. The currents of...

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Two Years Later

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the oil-drilling rig Deepwater Horizon caused the largest marine oil spill in US history, gushing nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil over the course of three...
Oil Drilling Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill is recognized as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Within days of the April 20, 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of...

Underwater WWII Wrecks – Pollution or Cultural Heritage?

Fish swim around the wreck of the HMT Bedfordshire , an Arctic fishing trawler that was converted into an anti-submarine warship during World War II, and sunk off the coast of North Carolina. Credit:...

How Coastal Seagrass Feeds the Deep

Seagrasses are flowering plants that can form dense underwater meadows and are an important shallow water habitat. Credit: Heather Dine, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary It is a well-known fact that for animals living...

Laysan Albatrosses’ Plastic Problem

Laysan albatrosses ( Phoebastria immutabilis ) are incredible birds. They have a wingspan of more than 6 feet, soaring vast distances without flapping their wings. They can go years without even touching land ,...
Sunset over Boston Harbor

Signs of a Recovering Harbor

A sunset over Boston Harbor. Credit: Chesser1023 For more than two centuries, Boston Harbor has been a dumping ground. In 1773, colonists famously dumped shiploads of tea to protest taxes. But in recent decades,...
Henry the Fish is made completely out of colorful plastic that washed up on Oregon beaches.

Washed Ashore: From Beach Trash to Ocean Art

From a distance, Henry the Fish looks like a typical quirky and colorful sculpture you'd find in a small beach town. But when you look up close, Henry begins to change. His bright yellow...

The “Plastisphere:" A new marine ecosystem

Tiny bits and pieces of plastic can be found throughout the ocean, like these collected from the open ocean by net. Credit: Courtesy of Erik Zettler Any floating object in the ocean tends to...

CARTHE Drifters: Where does oil go when it is spilled?

One-meter-tall plastic drifters are released into the Gulf of Mexico in 2012. Over 300 of these drifters were released and their location information was sent to researchers every five minutes through GPS satellite. Credit:...

Bob the Drifter

This video, produced by Waterlust, shows how the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) uses drifters to collect important data about the ocean. These data help researchers learn...

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