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.

July 21, 2024

The telescopefish has a cast-iron stomach. Not only can the stomach digest prey that’s bigger than the telescopefish itself, but it’s as dark as cast iron. That prevents the fish’s prey from getting revenge by attracting critters that might eat the telescopefish.

There are two known species of telescopefish. Members of both species are small—no more than about six to eight inches long. They’re found in fairly warm waters around the world, at depths of a third of a mile to a mile and a half or so.

July 14, 2024

From poetry to music to movies, we’re always hearing about the “deep blue sea.” But the seas aren’t always deep blue. And sometimes, they’re not blue at all. They can be green, brown, or other colors. And each color can tell us something about what’s happening in that part of the sea.

Understanding what the colors are telling us is one goal of PACE—Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem—a NASA satellite that launched in February.

July 7, 2024

For the seagrass beds of southern Texas, rising sea level may be a case of give and take—or make that take and give. Higher waters are killing off some seagrass. But as the water rises even higher, newly submerged land has the potential to increase the total seagrass area.

Seagrass is important for many coastal ecosystems. It can protect the coast from storms, filter pollution from runoff, and provide habitat and food for fish and other life. So losing seagrass is a big deal.

June 30, 2024

The “beards” of marine mussels aren’t just a fashion statement. They anchor the mussels to the sea floor, attach to each other to form large “beds,” and hold out potential invaders. They’re also playing a role in materials research—scientists study the beards to learn how to make water-proof glue for many applications.

The beards consist of a bundle of about 20 to 60 threads known as a byssus. The threads radiate outward from the mussel’s “foot.” Each thread is tipped with a biological superglue—a combination of proteins from the mussel and metals from the water.

June 23, 2024

Early in World War II, the Navy began using sonar to probe for enemy U-boats. Ships would send out pulses of sound, then measure their reflection to figure out what was below. But early observations revealed something a little disconcerting: The ocean floor wasn’t where it was supposed to be—it was a lot closer to the surface. Sonar operators thought they might be seeing uncharted underwater islands.

June 16, 2024

Pufferfish in Japan are known for one thing. They’re a delicacy that can be deadly. Their organs contain a highly toxic compound that can kill in minutes. But one species of pufferfish has a different distinction: Its males might be the most creative artists in the oceans.

In 1995, divers off the coast of Japan saw an unusual pattern in the sand on the ocean floor—a circle with small peaks and valleys radiating out from a flat center. It wasn’t until 2011 that marine scientists could explain them: the creations of a species known today as white-spotted pufferfish.

June 9, 2024

As Earth gets warmer, scientists expect to see some changes in hurricanes. There might not be more of them, but the strongest ones might be much more intense.

To better understand what might happen, scientists are digging deep into the past. They’re looking at how often especially powerful hurricanes made landfall when climate conditions were similar to what we’re seeing today.

June 2, 2024

Until 2011, no one knew that a couple of groups of dolphins found along the coast of southeastern Australia were a separate species from all other dolphins.

Burrunan dolphins are related to the two other known species of bottlenose dolphins. There are two groups of Burrunans—about 250 dolphins in all.

But today, no one knows how much longer the species might be around. It’s critically endangered. And it’s threatened by several hazards, including industrial chemicals. In fact, the species contains higher levels of one group of chemicals than any other dolphins in the world.

May 26, 2024

“Million Mounds” may be overstating the case a bit, but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most extensive deep-water coral reefs on the planet. Or make that part of one. Scientists recently discovered that the system extends far beyond Million Mounds—the biggest deep-water coral reef yet seen.

The entire complex stretches along the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States. It’s a few dozen miles out, from Miami to near Charleston. It encompasses about 50,000 square miles, at depths of about 2,000 feet or greater.

May 19, 2024

For a tiny marine worm found in the Bay of Naples and elsewhere, life ends in a frenzy. The worms lose a lot of their internal organs, their eyes get bigger, and they rise to the surface. There, as they paddle furiously, they release sperm and eggs, creating the next generation. And it’s all triggered by moonlight.