Ocean Collaborators

Schooling fish know that working together is better for everyone. The same is true on the Ocean Portal, where we are gathering a group of outstanding organizations in the fields of marine science, education, media, conservation, and other areas. By pooling our expertise and top assets, we can provide a richer experience than any one of us could alone. Get to know each organization by exploring their contributions on the OP and visiting their websites.

Featured Collaborators

The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California is to inspire conservation of the oceans. The aquarium explores one of Earth’s richest and most diverse marine regions through award-winning exhibits, education programs and cutting-edge marine research. It has established itself as a leader among aquariums worldwide, consistently ranking as the nation’s top aquarium both overall, and for families. Since opening in 1984, the aquarium has attracted more than 45 million visitors and more than 200,000 members. Some 90,000 students and educators take advantage of its free education programs each year.

The aquarium’s flagship Seafood Watch program seeks to raise national awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. Based on rigorous research, its recommendations advise consumers and seafood purveyors which seafood to buy or avoid.

Laetitia Plaisance is a marine biologist who received her doctor of philosophy degree from the university of Perpignan in France. She has since been studying coral reefs in many locations around the world. As a research scientist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, she specialized in the study of coral reef biodiversity. She has developed, as part of the international Census of Marine life project, new methods to assess and monitor this extraordinary and threatened diversity. In collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science she is now exploring how ocean acidification will impact coral reef biodiversity in the future and the ecological consequences for the entire ecosystem.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) was established to make comprehensive, authenticated information about the world’s biodiversity freely available over the Internet. Encyclopedia of Life’s portal includes hundreds of thousands of authenticated species pages, 1.4 million base pages and links to 13 million pages of digitized biodiversity literature. The features available on the EOL portal make participation possible by everyone. Users including students, scientists and members of the public can contribute photos and videos via the EOL Flickr Group, apply tags to images and provide comments on the content.

The EOL provides an engaging and informative learning platform where students and others can work together to help build this global resource and learn about biological diversity worldwide.

BBC Earth is the global brand for all the BBCís natural history content spanning the last 50 years. The BBC is the largest producer of natural history programming in the world and the brand highlights the vast scale of incredible content which is produced in this genre. Visible across all platforms; TV, digital and merchandising as well as expanding across TV stings, DVDs and digital products throughout 2009, BBC Earth encourages engagement with current as well as classic programs such as Planet Earth and The Blue Planet.

SeaWeb is an international, nonprofit, communications organization dedicated to creating a culture of ocean conservation. We work collaboratively to inform and empower diverse ocean voices and conservation champions in strategic, targeted sectors to encourage market solutions, policies and behaviors that result in a healthy thriving ocean. We transform knowledge into action by shining a spotlight on workable, science-based solutions to the most serious threats facing the ocean such as climate change, pollution and overexploitation.

The World Heritage Marine Programme was created in 2005 with the aim of establishing effective conservation of all unique marine areas protected under the 1972 World Heritage Convention. Today, about 50 World Heritage sites are located in marine or coastal areas. Together, they represent the 'Crown Jewels of our Ocean' and are recognized for their outstanding beauty, exceptional biodiversity, or unique ecological, biological or geological processes. They are selected under strict criteria and through a rigorous nomination, evaluation and inscription process. In cooperation with a variety of partners, the World Heritage Marine Programme is developing innovative ways to support site managers with their conservation challenges, while simultaneously advancing the application of the World Heritage Convention for protecting the planet’s most valuable and unique marine places. The World Heritage Marine Programme is one of the six thematic programme's of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, headquartered in Paris, France.

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the world's oldest and largest environmental network, with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organization, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in over 160 countries. IUCN’s Global Marine Programme (GMP) pioneers pragmatic solutions to marine environmental challenges. The Programme highlights science and technology for the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems by connecting scientists and conservationists with decision-makers in governments and with private and public sector partners across its extensive network to develop policy, laws and best practices. Through its comprehensive network, GMP provides a convening power, connecting members and partners on both national and regional scales. IUCN’s recognized imprimatur serves to amplify leading voices in ocean conservation. GMP uses its strategic communication and outreach skills to advance science-based solutions, mobilize decision-makers, the media and raise public awareness on key marine issues from climate change and endangered species to fisheries and marine world heritage. In addition GMP works alongside IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Marine to promote the establishment and effective management of a world-wide representative network of marine protected areas.

The Census of Marine Life is a global network of researchers in 80+ nations engaged in a ten-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life in the world’s oceans - past, present and future. Conducting research in under-explored and well-studied habitats alike, in both coastal and deep waters, the Census is identifying new organisms, collecting new information on ocean life, analyzing historical documents, and modeling future ecosystems. This will enable scientists to compare what once lived in the oceans to what lives there now, and to project what will live there in the future. The world's first comprehensive Census of Marine Life - past, present, and future - was released in 2010.

The National Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Network, comprised of 12 Centers plus a Central Coordinating Office, is charged with "engaging scientists and educators to transform ocean sciences education." Funded by the National Science Foundation with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, COSEE focuses on innovative activities that transform and broaden participation in the ocean science education enterprise. A key player in the national ocean literacy movement, COSEE’s objectives are to develop partnerships between ocean scientists and educators and foster communication and coordination among ocean science education programs nationwide. Since 2003, COSEE has grown into the nation's most comprehensive ocean science and education network with over 200 partners, including universities and research institutions, community colleges, school districts, informal science education institutions, and state/federal agencies. COSEE has engaged over 500 ocean scientists with thousands of teachers and the public.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is dedicated to research and education to advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system, and to communicating this understanding for the benefit of society.

The Ocean is important to all life, including yours. Join us.

Welcome to the Ocean Portal – a unique, interactive online experience that inspires awareness, understanding, and stewardship of the world’s Ocean, developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and more than 20 collaborating organizations.

You are among the first wave of visitors to the Portal, an experience which we hope will empower you to shape and share your personal Ocean experiences, knowledge, and perspectives.

The input you provide through feedback modules and comment boxes will help us to shape future Ocean Portal content and functionality. Like the Ocean, which is made of millions of marine species, your comments, questions, and clicks will help to bring the Portal closer to the vastness and variety of the Ocean itself.

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that represents 95 of the leading public and private ocean research education institutions, aquaria and industry with the mission to advance research, education and sound ocean policy. The organization also manages ocean research and education programs in areas of scientific ocean drilling, ocean observing, ocean exploration, and ocean partnerships. Specifically, Ocean Leadership manages the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), the Census of Marine Life (CoML), the U.S. Science Support Program, the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB). Ocean Leadership’s vision is a global society that views its own well-being as intimately connected to the ocean.

Smithsonian Contributors

As a kid, Chris Meyer filled his closet with shoeboxes of baseball cards, sand from various beaches, anything that indulged his “hyper-active collector gene.” Now, as a Smithsonian scientist and the Director of the Moorea Biocode Project, Chris has turned his hobby into a full-time job collecting and studying marine life in spectacular places like Moorea. Chris’ work is helping to document marine biodiversity, figure out how ecosystems function, and predict how they will respond to change. These are big issues to tackle, because in most of the ocean, the more you look, the more life forms you find. “I see it as a kind of huge scavenger hunt,” Chris says. “It’s very rewarding to pursue questions you are curious about.”

As the Scientific Diving Safety Officer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Christian McDonald, manages the oldest and one of the largest and most active scientific diving programs in the United States. Christian’s interest in marine science began as an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) while studying kelp forest ecological dynamics both in Central California and later on the remote island of Shemya, in the outer Aleutian chain, southwest of Alaska. Upon graduation from UCSC with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, Christian spent 5 years working in and exploring diverse locations around Antarctica as a scientific diver, natural history cinematographer, commercial diver, and senior marine technician aboard National Science Foundation (NSF) supported polar classed research vessels. In addition to the scientific diving training, support, and oversight provided to the Scripps research community, Christian has recently served as chair of NSF’s Office of Polar Programs Diving Control Board and is a Past-President of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

Stephen Kress is Vice-President for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society, Director of the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program and Director of the Hog Island Audubon Camp. His career has focused on developing techniques for managing colonial nesting seabirds. In this role, he manages 13 seabird nesting islands in Maine that are home to more than 42,000 seabirds of 27 species. Each year his program trains about 20 interns; hundreds of professional seabird biologists can trace their first interest in seabirds to Project Puffin. Methods first developed in Maine such as chick translocations and social attraction are now standard practice worldwide. Dr. Kress received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and his Master’s and undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University.

Erik Zettler joined the Sea Education Association (SEA) in 1994 and works with faculty and administrators at academic institutions to describe the unique off-campus study opportunities in marine studies that SEA programs provide to students from all academic disciplines. In addition, he coordinates and facilitates research collaborations with students, faculty, and scholars interested in data, samples, or ship time on SEA voyages.

Erik is a microbial ecologist and has been a member of the Woods Hole scientific community for many years, having worked as a Research Associate in the Biology Dept. at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before joining SEA. He has participated on over 50 research cruises on SEA and UNOLS vessels and has done field work in Antarctica, Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Spain, and USA. Whenever possible, he teaches in the field including on board the SEA vessels.

His research interests include microbial ecology, microbial biogeography, extreme environments, and the use of instrumentation and multivariate statistics in microbial research.

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a scientific leader of the Census of Marine Life. She wrote the book, Citizens of the Sea, to celebrate the ten years of the Census. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego. Knowlton has devoted her life to studying, celebrating, and striving to protect the multitude of life-forms that call the sea home. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.