On the Air: October 26, 2014
Graph of internal wave in the open ocean. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Waves as tall as skyscrapers ripple through the world’s oceans. They don’t come crashing ashore, though, because they travel across the ocean floor, not the surface. In fact, their effect on the surface is almost nil. But their effects on the deep ocean are critical.

Internal ocean waves are made possible by the fact that not all ocean water is the same. Water at the bottom is generally colder and denser than water near the surface.

In Print: November 1, 2014
An ocean dandelion is made of of many individual animals cooperatiing. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Fields of dandelions are a familiar sight each spring, but another kind of dandelion is so rare that scientists are just beginning to learn more about it – the ocean dandelion.

Living in the deepest parts of the sea, the ocean dandelion is not a plant, yet it’s not exactly a single animal either. Rather, the ocean dandelion is a siphonophore, a unique type of organism composed of many smaller animals that together form a colony. The individual animals, known as zooids, are the “petals” of the ocean dandelion.