The Ocean Blog

The Time For Earth Optimism is Now

Earth as seen from a satellite. Credit: NASA Here at the Smithsonian we think the time for Earth Optimism is now. So we are bringing together stories of success at the Earth Optimism Summit to be held April 21-23rd, 2017 in Washington, DC. The gathering will bring global leaders, everyday citizens, scientists, journalists and students to discuss and share solutions – what are the best minds, boldest experiments, and most innovative community practices telling us about how to preserve biodiversity, protect natural resources, and address climate change? We will be featuring stories of Ocean...Read more

What We’re Reading 11/14

An estimated 5 tons of plastic are fed to albatross chicks each year at Midway Atoll. Credit: Chris Jordan Last week we read a lot about the U.S. Presidential election and its outcomes. Over the months ahead we will learn about new approaches to solving the problems that will continue to be front and center for the ocean. If you need a refresher on the science we suggest you take a look at our overview pages: Climate Change Ocean Acidification Sea Level Rise But the elections also brought some local results that have immediate benefits for the ocean. For example: California Supports Plastic...Read more

What We're Reading - 9/22

A bluefin trevally swims in Hawaii’s Maro Coral Reef, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Credit: ©James D. Watt/Ocean Stock It’s hard to keep up with the latest news on the Internet. We all have information and headlines constantly streaming at us via Facebook, Twitter, email and news sites. We realize the Ocean Portal is a part of that noise. But since we are attempting to stay up-to-date on everything ocean, we thought, why not let you know what we are reading? Here’s our inaugural post. We will plan to give you an idea of what is going on in the ocean-world every two...Read more
Greenland Shark in cold water

In the Eyes of One Shark, Age is Nothing to Fear

Greenland Shark in icy Arctic waters. Credit: Julius Nielson In the freezing waters of the Arctic a toothed leviathan – the Greenland shark - claims an impressive feat. It now holds the record for longest documented lifespan of any vertebrate. The new discovery points to an age of roughly 400 years, meaning that some sharks swimming in today’s Arctic ocean may have shared the waters with explorers like Henry Hudson as he searched for the elusive Northwest Passage in the early 1600s. Little is known about Greenland sharks, and even shark specialists see them as creatures of mystery . Perhaps...Read more
A hippopotamus-like creature swims underwater

Flippers or Feet? An Extinct Mammal May Have Been Replaced By Today's Sea Cows

In the seagrass beds and kelp forests of the Oligocene-Miocene transition, nearly 32.5 to 10.5 million years ago, a four-legged, gnarly-toothed mammal roamed the Northern Pacific shores of what is now Japan, Canada and the United States. This mammal, part of the order Desmostylia, straddled the marine and terrestrial environments much like seals and sea lions of today, but with feet instead of flippers.Read more
A map of the Mid Ocean Ridge

Making a Mark on the Ocean Floor

Until very recently oceanography was a field dominated by men. A seafaring career, oceanography was still influenced by the superstitions of ship life; a woman on board was considered to bring bad luck. It may come as a surprise then, that one of the most influential oceanographic cartographers (mapmakers) of the 20th century was a woman, and she achieved such status without even stepping foot on a boat.Read more

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