The Ocean Blog

Satellite view of the Gulf Coast oil spill off of Louisiana, April 29, 2010.

State of Emergency in the Gulf

The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, an oil-drilling platform roughly 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, is quickly growing into an environmental disaster that will leave its mark on coastal communities, fisheries, wildlife, and ecosystems along the Gulf Coast for decades to come.Read more
A scientific diver collects data on an underwater slate.

Into the Blue: Join Us for Science & Scuba Symposium

A scientific diver collects data on an underwater slate. Credit: Mike Lang/Smithsonian Institution Jacques Cousteau once said, “When you dive, you begin to feel like an angel." It’s true. When a diver dons a tank and slips into the water, the noisy clatter of the world disappears and the sensation of weightlessness takes over. The unrestrained expanse of blue water. The dazzling rainbow of marine life. The splinters of silver light dancing through the water column. Scuba diving is an experience like no other. But diving is also a serious, rigorous research tool that has an enormous impact on...Read more
Students hike up to Inspiration Point in the Channel Islands.

On Earth Day, Think Blue.

Earth Day is a fitting occasion to celebrate the Big Blue. While our planet may be called “Earth,” 71% of its surface is actually covered by water. This vast ocean makes our planet habitable—for us and all life. It produces half the oxygen we breathe. It moderates climate, absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, furnishes food and jobs to millions of people, and provides countless other services to humankind. The ocean does so much for us. On Earth Day, surely we can return the favor. Whatever you’re planning to do today, there are actions you can take to protect the ocean.Read more
A cameraman navigates a smack of sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) in Monterey Bay. Sea nettle blooms have become more common in recent years.

The Ocean Hits the Big Screen

It may be called Earth Day, but April 22nd is a perfect day to remind ourselves that we actually live on a planet dominated by water. In fact, with 71% of the earth’s surface covered by water, we might just as well call it Planet Ocean. This year, we’ll have a chance to explore the other three quarters of our planet on the big screen with Disney Nature’s release of Oceans , opening on Earth Day in theaters around Canada and the U.S.Read more
A student participates in shoreline survey in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.

Teach Us

A student participates in shoreline survey in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Credit: Kathleen Reaugh/Marine Photobank Welcome Teachers! Thank you for visiting the Ocean Portal. We hope the “OP” will be a valuable tool for you and for your students—a place where you can find teaching resources and your students can find helpful, exciting, or just-plain-weird content that sparks interest in science and the ocean. When we began developing educator resources for the OP, we surveyed hundreds of teachers about the kinds of features and materials they would find useful (thanks to those...Read more
A screenshot from the NOAA Climate Portal prototype.

Climate Change on the Brain

A screenshot from the NOAA Climate Portal prototype. Credit: NOAA We’re only two months into 2010, and climate change is shaping up to be one of the year’s big buzz topics. Our friends at NOAA have released a prototype of their new Climate Portal . The site offers everything from teaching resources to data visualizations to stories about how climate change is affecting people around the world. The Ocean Portal team is working closely with NOAA to produce a new section on climate change for the OP as well. We’ll release it in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. Climate change has made...Read more
A collage of the wildlife found in one cubic foot on the reef near Moorea, French Polynesia.

Finding Little Gems in the Sea

A collage of the wildlife found in one cubic foot on the reef near Moorea, French Polynesia. Credit: © David Liittschwager/National Geographic This month, our friends at National Geographic are featuring Smithsonian's own bio-scavenger, Chris Meyer and his work in one of our favorite places: Moorea , French Polynesia. In a beautiful meld of art and science, photographer David Liittschwager traveled to Moorea and four other locations to snap portraits of all the life forms he could find in a cubic foot of space. On the reef near Moorea, he encountered an array of marine life from spectacular...Read more
A diver cares for the reef by cleaning up discarded fishing gear and garbage.

Resolve to Protect the Ocean

A diver cares for the reef by cleaning up discarded fishing gear and garbage. Credit: Amos Nachoum 2005/Marine Photobank Happy New Year! We’ve officially hit mid-January, but there is still plenty of time to make those resolutions. If you’ve been putting it off or haven’t come up with a worthy resolution yet, why not resolve to do something to help the ocean? The ocean does so many things for us, surely we can return the favor by making small changes in our daily lives. Drawing a blank? Here are some idea to get started: Make the Connection. The first step in making a difference is learning...Read more
Close-up photograph of the face of a blue footed booby.

You Navigate

We chose the tagline “You navigate” for the Ocean Portal in part because we really want you—the visitors to the site—to help steer the course. We hope you find your own intriguing paths to explore the OP as it exists now, but we’re also looking for input to help guide the site’s development in the months and years ahead. We’d like to call your attention to three ways you can easily speak your mind:Read more
Polar bear siblings in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area near Hudson Bay spar playfully during migration.

Help us pick the next OP stars

The race is on. We need to choose the next species and ecosystem to feature on the Ocean Portal, and we’re putting it to a vote. Does the charismatic (and threatened) polar bear deserve the spot or should the humble (and bizarre) sea cucumber finally be thrust into the limelight? Want to slosh with us through the salt marsh next or swim among the giant kelp? We need more votes to decide, and you could be the one to tip the scales. Cast your ballot for your favorite ocean species and ecosystem, and stay tuned for the results.Read more