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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By now, you have probably heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The name conjures the image of a floating island made of familiar plastic trash such as soda bottles and plastic bags,...
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You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are,...
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From a distance, Henry the Fish looks like a typical quirky and colorful...
Plastic trash floats in the waters off the Smithsonian's Carrie Bow Cay field...

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In recent years, blooms of jellyfish, such as these moon jellies ( Aurita aurita ) in the Chesapeake Bay, have become more common around the world for a number of different reasons . One result of these blooms is that there is...
There are many plastic nets floating in the world's ocean. Some of them were...
At Carrie Bow Cay in Belize , Dr. Candy Feller explains her research on the...

DIVE DEEPER

The Gulf oil spill is recognized as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Within days of the April 20, 2010 explosion and...
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was formed as a 10-year independent research program with money provided by BP to fund an independent research program looking at the impact of oil...
Upon entering the Smithsonian’s National Zoo this summer, visitors can expect a bright greeting from a larger-than-life Priscilla the Parrotfish. Priscilla is a mosaic of every color in the rainbow,...
When a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale becomes entangled in fishing gear, members of a response team from the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network spring into action. In the...
These photos portray baby albatrosses, which are fed the plastic by their parents. A chick can have an ounce of plastic in its belly and remain healthy; the dead chicks have twice as much, biologist...
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...
In marshlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it's easy to hear the sharp, buzzing calls of seaside sparrows ( Ammodramus maritimus )—even if they can be hard to spot. These five-inch, brown...
Part 1 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. "Oil Spill Pioneers" describes WHOI's four decades of...
Major oil spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill are devestating, but aren’t the only way oil gets into the ocean. Nearly 85 percent of oil in U.S. coastal waters comes from runoff (roads,...
Midway Atoll, where these photos were taken, is more than 2,000 miles from the nearest land.
The Gulf of Mexico is known for one of the world's largest “dead zones"—areas of low- or no-oxygen water along the seafloor that suffocate most animal life. The average size of the Gulf's dead zone (...
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...
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico impacts the coast at Pass a Loutre, La. Photo was taken on June 2, 2010. More about the Gulf oil spill can be found in our Gulf oil...
Sabrina Taylor, a wildlife biologist at Louisiana State University and lead scientist for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, releases a seaside sparrow ( Ammodramus maritimus ) in the Louisiana...
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...
Part 2 of a 6-part series describing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's (WHOI) efforts to understand the scope and impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "How Much Oil...
A diver cares for the reef by cleaning up discarded fishing gear and garbage. Even if you don't have scuba gear, you can help protect the ocean and coral reefs !
Solving environmental problems often starts with small groups of people working to make things better. But to sustain and scale up environmental successes often requires government support. The Ocean...
The plastic includes big pieces, such as bottle caps and cigarette lighters, as well as plastic confetti, indiscernible to the human eye.
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