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LabBits: News from the Marine Biological Laboratory

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MAFrom the mysteries of comb jelly propulsion to the potential health effects posed by last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) are exploring some fascinating and important phenomena this summer.

Summer on Cape Cod is synonymous with a surge of tourists, but also a surge of visiting scientists at the MBL. For more than a century, researchers have come to the MBL each summer from around the world to immerse themselves in biological discovery. Researchers enjoy the collaborative atmosphere, the access to advanced imaging equipment and expertise, and the escape from academic duties at their home institutions. Here is a sampling of some of the research underway this summer at the MBL's Whitman Center for Research and Discovery (for collatoral video and more photos, please visit

A New Underwater Video Camera Opens Window into the Behavior of Jellies

MBL Whitman Center researchers are testing a new underwater video camera system that will allow scientists to study the propulsion and behavior of jellies in their natural habitat.

In the lab, you can get a sense for how a jelly swims and captures its prey, explains Sean Colin, a marine ecologist at Roger Williams University, who helped to develop the system, called a self-contained underwater velocimetry apparatus, or SCUVA for short. But what's missing is the influence that ocean currents, nearly impossible to accurately mimic in an artificial setting, have on these processes. "That's what we need this system to answer," says Colin. "How important is this natural background flow to determining who they feed on and how much they're able to ingest?"

This summer, Colin, along with colleague John Costello, a biology professor at Providence College, will use the SCUVA to

Contact: Diana Kenney
Marine Biological Laboratory

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