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.

April 14, 2024

It snows in the oceans. Bacteria, the skin cells of fish, fish poop, and bits of sand and dirt all clump together. These “snowflakes” can be up to an inch or two across. Many of them are eaten as they sink toward the ocean floor. But others float all the way to the bottom—a trip that can take weeks.

The snow falls all the way down even in the deepest waters, where the pressure can be a thousand times the surface pressure or greater. In fact, a recent study suggests the pressure might actually help the snowflakes survive in the deep ocean.

April 7, 2024

Killer whales near the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal have been living up to their name. From May 2020 through the end of 2023, they “killed” four boats and attacked hundreds of others. Marine biologists are still trying to explain why.

They’re not the first reported whale attacks in that part of the world. In fact, the earliest known attacks anywhere took place in the northeastern Mediterranean, near Constantinople. Those attacks were blamed on a single whale: Porphyrios.

March 31, 2024

According to an old saying, a rising tide floats all boats. And in the decades ahead, rising waters will threaten all coastal cities.

As our planet gets warmer as the result of human activities, sea level is rising. So cities along the coast will see more flooding—more often, with higher water levels. But a recent study says the risk isn’t the same for everyone.

March 24, 2024

In 1983, roadworkers cut a notch in a hillside in Lorraine, a region in northeastern France. Paleontology students examined the exposed layers of rock. They found fossils of an ancient sea creature.

Scientists just recently studied the fossils in detail. They found that the fossils were the remains of a type of giant marine reptile that hadn’t been seen before. It was about 16 feet long, with jaws four feet long. It plied the Tethys Sea, which covered parts of present-day Europe. Because it was discovered in Lorraine, scientists named it Lorrainosaurus.

March 17, 2024

The Gulf Stream plays a big role in the weather and climate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A recent study concluded that the Gulf Stream is slowing down. That could have an impact on everything from hurricanes to heatwaves.

The Gulf Stream is a strong current of warm water. It starts in the Gulf of Mexico, then flows up the East Coast of the United States. It then veers eastward into the North Atlantic, and finally around western Europe, where it warms part of the continent. The Gulf Stream is one of a network of currents that encircles the Atlantic Ocean.

March 10, 2024

Many people like to have some “white noise” in the background while they work or sleep. And some fish seem to like it as well. A recent study found that young Atlantic cod were attracted to a background “hum” like that produced by offshore wind turbines.

Researchers in Norway studied the impact of a low-frequency hum on 89 larval cod. They put the fish in mesh containers, then placed them in a fjord in Norway. They played the humming sound to half of the fish, but not the other half. And they recorded how the fish responded on video.

March 3, 2024

One of the great quests of the 16th century was to find a northwest passage—a shortcut from Europe to Asia. Such a route would go through or above the lands of the New World. No one ever found it because there isn’t one. But the search gave European mapmakers and scientists a lot of information about the North American coastline.

February 25, 2024

For the eastern North Pacific gray whale, it’s been an up-and-down few decades. The population had been decimated by whaling. Conservation efforts allowed the whales to rebound. But over the past few years, the numbers have dropped again.

There are two populations of North Pacific gray whales. One is on the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean. The other is along the coast of the United States and Canada.

Every year, the whales migrate 10,000 miles or more. They go from their summer feeding grounds, in the Arctic, to the coast of Mexico, where calves are born.

February 18, 2024

People are always looking for ways to make things brighter and whiter—from teeth to laundry. They seldom think of brighter, whiter clouds. Yet whiter clouds are just as important as whiter bicuspids or T-shirts. They reflect more sunlight back into space, making our planet cooler.

In recent years, scientists have discovered a great cloud whitener: tiny organisms known as phytoplankton. They’re especially abundant in the Southern Ocean—the waters around Antarctica. Satellites reveal that clouds in that region are much whiter than those elsewhere.

February 11, 2024

When you bite into a chewy bagel, crunch a crispy taco, or grind up a piece of tough meat, you’re using structures that evolved hundreds of millions of years ago: teeth.

There’s no consensus on how teeth first formed. One idea says they formed from structures inside fish or perhaps other animals. The other says they formed from the scales of fish that resembled modern-day sharks—400 million years ago.