Pacific islands

The Moorea Biocode Project

Scientists on the tiny island of Moorea, in the Pacific, are gathering one of every life form large enough to pick up with tweezers. They're on a quest to build a detailed catalog of...
The Line Islands are one of the most remote places in the Pacific Ocean.

Expedition to the Line Islands

The Line Islands are one of the most remote places in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Remotely located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, the Line Islands provide a remarkable research...
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,...
Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems.

Coral Reefs: One Species at a Time

Coral reefs are bustling cities of marine life, until rising ocean temperatures turn them into ghost towns. Can reefs spring back from devastating bleaching events? In this episode of the Podcast of Life ,...
Coral Head Near Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Hawaii

World Heritage Goes Marine

A rainbow of tropical fish hovers over a coral head near the Pearl and Hermes Atoll, part of the Papahānaumokuākea World Heritage Site. Credit: Louiz Rocha Last week, the United Nations’ World Heritage Convention...

Submarine Volcanoes Erupting

Did you know that 80 percent of the volcanic eruptions on Earth take place underwater? These underwater eruptions occur regularly, forming new landmasses and providing a living environment for deep-sea creatures . In 2009,...

Video of the Palauan primitive cave eel (Protanguilla palau)

A video of the Palauan primitive cave eel ( Protanguilla palau ) swimming in the Pacific off the Republic of Palau . Jiro Sakaue, a Japanese research diver, first discovered the new genus and...
The currents of the North Pacific gyre collect trash—mostly bits of microscopic plastic—into what are known as "garbage patches."

Ocean Trash Plaguing Our Sea

Garbage patches in the ocean aren't piled-up islands of trash and debris, as is the common perception. But that doesn't mean the tiny, swirling plastic bits are nothing to worry about. The currents of...

Reef Sharks Repelled by People

Large numbers of grey reef sharks were observed at Jarvis Island, an uninhabited Pacific island, during the 2010 Pacific RAMP expedition of the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai . Credit: NOAA Reef sharks rarely get any...

Laysan Albatrosses’ Plastic Problem

Laysan albatrosses ( Phoebastria immutabilis ) are incredible birds. They have a wingspan of more than 6 feet, soaring vast distances without flapping their wings. They can go years without even touching land ,...

Coralline Algae: The Unsung Architects of Coral Reefs

Many species of pink coralline algae, which cements coral reefs together, cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Credit: Maggie D. Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Stare at a tide pool and...
A dive safety officer keeps a close eye on divers from the surface.

Diving in the Middle of Nowhere

The dive safety officer, Christian McDonald, keeping a watchful eye on divers at the surface. Credit: Rob Edwards Picture this: clear, warm water bathing spectacular coral reefs , clouds of fish, circling sharks, and...

Where the Shark and the Snapper Roam

Grey reef sharks are among the most versatile and tough predators on a Pacific coral reef, but they are also among the most vulnerable species, as they are threatened by wasteful fishing practices like...

Connecting Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are some of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet that are home to beautiful wildlife and provide food to many people living on the coast. So how do you protect the...

Efforts to Protect the Critically Endangered Monk Seal

Monk seals -- the only completely tropical species of seal in the world -- are in trouble. Centuries of human exploitation and habitat destruction have caused the remaining populations of Mediterranean monk seals (...