The Ocean Blog

Sea otters floating on the surface of the ocean.

Not Just Another Fuzzy Face

A raft of sea otters grooming and resting after foraging. Credit: © Elise Newman Montanino Who hasn’t grinned at the sight of a sea otter floating on its back while grooming itself? No doubt about it, the sea otter is adorable. But it’s not just another fuzzy face. It’s a sharp-toothed predator and darn good at its job. So good that sea otters starred as the heroes in an eco-mystery that unfolded in an estuary near Monterey Bay in California. Marine biologist Brent Hughes, who works out of the University of California at Santa Cruz-Long Marine Laboratory , studies the intertidal ecosystem of...Read more
Turbinolia stephensoni

Ocean Objects of Wonder

An unidentified earplug from the National Museum of Natural History collection. The light and dark layers come from a build up of keratin and lipids and can be used to estimate whale age. Credit: Megan Chen, NMNH As humans, we are constantly learning. Not only as individuals from the moment we are born through our inevitable death, but as a society through time. We learn not only from people, but also from objects. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is home to more than 145 million artifacts and specimens to study and constantly learn from. A hand-selected collection of some...Read more
Earth as seen from a satellite.

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
A bluefin trevally swims in Hawaii’s Maro Coral Reef, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

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