Radio Program

Our regular Science and the SeaTM radio program presents marine science topics in an engaging two-minute story format. Our script writers gather ideas for the radio program from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute's researchers and from our very popular college class, Introduction to Oceanography, which we teach to hundreds of non-science majors at The University of Texas at Austin every year. Our radio programs are distributed at to commercial and public radio stations across the country.

November 15, 2015
North Atlantic right whale Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Researchers may not be ready to hold a conversation with them just yet, but they say they can identify a small group of right whales just by the sounds of their voices. That may provide new insights into the behavior of these endangered giants.

November 8, 2015
This mesh captures oil (red) while water (blue) passes through. Credit: Photo by Jo McCulty, courtesy of The Ohio State University © 2015

When a major oil spill takes place at sea, a whole army of experts and volunteers mobilizes to clean things up. The teams use several techniques to soak up the oil, suck it up, or even gobble it up. And in a few years, they may be able to add one more weapon to their arsenal: a type of net that captures the oil but allows water to flow right through.

November 1, 2015
Octopuses coordinate eight "arms" to crawl across the ocean floor. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

For those of us who have a tough enough time getting around on two legs, trying to coordinate eight limbs sounds just about impossible. Yet the octopus does it all the time — it uses eight “arms” to crawl across the ocean floor. And some recent research says that crawling motion may not be all that complicated — the octopus decides which way it wants to go, then just pushes off.

Scientists recorded the motions of crawling octopuses, then looked at the video frame by frame. And they found that there are two keys to the way an octopus crawls.

October 25, 2015
Flooding from the 1938 New England hurricane. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

In September of 1938, a monster hurricane roared across New York and New England. Sustained winds topped 120 miles per hour, and a massive storm surge flooded cities and towns. The storm killed about 600 people and, in today’s dollars, caused more than $40 billion in damages.

October 18, 2015
Galatheid crab. Credit: Tamara Frank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

You can find creatures on the bottom of the ocean that’ll eat just about anything — from the poop of other organisms to minerals that bubble up from below the ocean floor. Even so, the diet of one type of crustacean is a bit of a surprise. That’s because it feeds on something you wouldn’t expect to find on the ocean floor: wood.

October 11, 2015
The collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. Credit: NASA

Some giant sheets of ice off the coast of Antarctica are disappearing like ice cubes being emptied from a stack of trays in your freezer. The first tray was emptied two decades ago, a second followed a few years later, and a third may go by the end of the decade.

These “trays” are parts of the Larsen Ice Shelf. It reaches into the Weddell Sea from a narrow finger of land that extends toward South America.

October 4, 2015
Adult killer whales are more likely to follow an older female when times are tough. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

In many human cultures, the elderly have been respected as sources of knowledge and experience. And one non¬-human culture seems to revere its elders as well: a population of killer whales. In fact, they’re most likely to follow an older female when times are tough.

Female orcas can give birth between the ages of about 12 and 40. But unlike many other mammals, which don’t live beyond their childbearing years, female orcas can live into their 80s or 90s.

September 27, 2015
Pacific electric ray, also know as a torpedo. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Treating a headache with a torpedo may sound like overkill, but that’s just what happened in ancient Greece and Rome. Of course, the torpedo wasn’t a projectile like that fired from modern submarines. Instead, it was a type of fish -- a ray that can deliver a powerful electric charge.

Torpedo rays are found in shallow coastal waters around the world. The Atlantic torpedo lives along the eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States, and the Pacific torpedo is found from Baja California to British Columbia.

September 20, 2015
Normally, "Trade Winds" blow strongly from east-to-west and "pile up" warm ocean water in the Western Pacific. Credit NASA

The rise in global temperatures isn’t smooth and even, like turning on a flame under a tea kettle. That’s because it’s a complicated process that involves the atmosphere, the oceans, and other factors.

One of those factors seems to be trade winds over the Pacific Ocean. Weaker winds lead to higher temperatures, while stronger winds tend to cool things down a bit.

September 13, 2015
Bone worms bore into bones of whale carcasses. Credit: Greg Rouse, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

When a whale dies, its carcass is a massive buffet for bottom-dwelling organisms. They can strip the bones bare in a matter of months. But the feast doesn’t end there. Tiny worms feed on the bones themselves, carpeting the skeleton in what looks like a giant feather boa.

The first of these bone worms were discovered in 2002, a couple of miles deep off the coast of California. Another dozen or so species have been found since then, in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.