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Close-up shot of sea surface with small waves
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface
The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface

The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.

The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.

ocean health
Neuston
Slideshow: Meet the Neuston, the Diverse Organisms Living at the Ocean’s Surface
Amanda Heidt | Jan 2, 2023 | 2 min read
The ocean’s surface harbors an ecosystem of colorful, understudied life, ranging from protists and cnidarians to insects.
Illustration showing where neuston reside
Infographic: Neuston Drift Atop the World’s Oceans
Amanda Heidt | Jan 2, 2023 | 1 min read
The sea surface is home to a diverse group of animals adapted to life in the open ocean, but increasingly, they’re sharing that space with plastic debris.
spikes of white coral underwater
Great Barrier Reef Suffers Sixth Mass Bleaching in Two Decades
Bianca Nogrady | May 14, 2022 | 2 min read
A survey showed that 91 percent of the reef experienced bleaching despite this year’s cooler, wetter conditions associated with the La Niña weather pattern.
Close-up of a fiber with brightly colored pathogens beside it
Microplastics in Seawater May Harbor Parasites
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Apr 26, 2022 | 2 min read
Laboratory experiments find that Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia can congregate on microplastic beads and fibers, suggesting they might make their way into and around the world’s oceans by hitching rides on tiny bits of trash.
Marine scientist photographing bleached corals
Coral Deaths Spurred by Pollutants From Land
Nicoletta Lanese | Jul 17, 2019 | 2 min read
Runoff and waste may be more harmful to the animals than climate change.
Image of the Day: What We’ve Dumped
Carolyn Wilke | Jan 10, 2019 | 1 min read
Researchers collected trash that washed up at Gulf Coast shoreline sites over two years. Most of it was plastic.
cod hanging to dry above snow next to the sea
Just 13 Percent of Ocean Is Wilderness: Study
Shawna Williams | Jul 26, 2018 | 1 min read
An analysis of 15 types of stressors finds humans are heavily affecting most sea areas.
Climate Change Research Gets Closer to Nature
Ruth Williams | Jul 1, 2018 | 3 min read
Researchers devise more-realistic means of forecasting the effects of climate change on complex marine ecosystems.
Infographic: Ocean Mesocosms
Ruth Williams | Jun 30, 2018 | 1 min read
How one research team studies the effects of ocean conditions on marine life
Marine Biologist Susan Williams Dies
Diana Kwon | Apr 26, 2018 | 2 min read
The UC Davis researcher was an advocate of ocean conservation and science communication.
Ocean Heat Wave Wreaked Havoc on Great Barrier Reef
Ashley Yeager | Apr 18, 2018 | 2 min read
Not only did many corals die in recent years, but some were actually killed by the hotter temperatures themselves, rather than bleaching.
Image of the Day: Plastic Feast
The Scientist Staff and The Scientist Staff | Oct 30, 2017 | 1 min read
New research suggests that plastic might just “taste good” to hard corals.
Lubchenco on Conservation
The Scientist Staff | Jul 16, 2017 | 1 min read
Former NOAA administrator and environmental scientist Jane Lunchenco discusses the importance of science in the face of climate change.
Study: Warming Waters Cause Deadly Bleaching in Great Barrier Reef
Diana Kwon | Mar 16, 2017 | 2 min read
Once again, climate change is killing off masses of coral in Australia’s expansive reef system.
Ocean Viruses Cataloged
Jef Akst | Sep 21, 2016 | 2 min read
An international research team triples the number of known virus types found in marine environments. 
Changing Oceans Breed Disease
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Jul 1, 2016 | 10+ min read
In the planet’s warming and acidifying oceans, species from corals to lobsters and fish are succumbing to pathogenic infection.
Identifying Resilient Reefs
Jef Akst | Jun 16, 2016 | 2 min read
Researchers identify areas where marine ecosystems are faring better or worse than predicted in hopes of saving the world’s corals.
Ocean Sentinels
Elizabeth Fiedler | Oct 1, 2015 | 4 min read
Researchers are struggling to understand shifts in the migratory patterns of penguins in the Southwest Atlantic.
An Ocean of Plastic
Jef Akst | Dec 15, 2014 | 2 min read
A new study surveys the extent of the plastic problem in the world’s oceans, estimating more than 5 trillion pieces weighing nearly 250,000 tons.
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