Marine Science

Everyone Needs A Buddy. Even Sharks

Aug 13, 2020

Sharks are often maligned as Hollywood monsters, the lone wolves lurking in the deep, hunting for prey. (Cue Jaws theme song).

But that caricature of sharks is increasingly out of step with what scientists are learning about the animals. Instead, they say, some species of sharks are social creatures who return day after day to a group of the same fellow sharks.

Dolphins learn special foraging techniques from their mothers—and it's now clear that they can learn from their buddies as well. Take the clever trick that some dolphins use to catch fish by trapping them in seashells. It turns out that they learn this skill by watching their pals do the job.

The discovery, reported in the journal Current Biology, helps reveal how groups of wild animals can transmit learned behaviors and develop their own distinct cultures.

Cardman in her NASA gear.
Robert Markowitz / NASA

Zena Cardman knew she might not have another opportunity to pursue poetry. She was about to dive into graduate research on microbiology in extreme environments when she put that plan on ice, and opted to write a poetry collection for her undergraduate thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2019. / NOAA

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered a methane seep field off the coast of Bodie Island in 2012, but they didn’t get a look at it until this year.

Overhead view of Hurricane Matthew
NASA / Flickr

North Carolina's coastal ecosystem has drastically changed because of two decades of hurricanes and other tropical cyclones.

Austin Allen / Duke Nicholas School of the Environment

Duke University researchers have new insight into why marine animals are eating plastic.

Marine Researchers Use Drones To Spot Sharks

May 27, 2016
Drones flying above the water.
Courtesy of NC Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve

Drones might one day be able to alert swimmers to the presence of sharks in the waters off North Carolina’s coasts. But first, researchers need to know how accurate unmanned aircraft are at spotting sea creatures.

Duke University Opens Coastal Drone Lab

Aug 25, 2015
Drone in flight
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

More and more drones are flying in North Carolina skies every day, and researchers at Duke University are beginning to explore how drones could benefit marine sciences.

The school recently opened a research and training facility for students and professionals in Beaufort, N.C. where they hope to use drones to research nesting habits for birds and sea turtles.