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

Kyle Cavanaugh is a postdoctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. His research examines how coastal ecosystems respond to climate variability and direct human impacts. Kyle likes to observe coastal ecosystems from a variety of perspectives: under the sea, waist deep in a mangrove swamp, or via a satellite orbiting 700 km above the earth. Dr. Cavanaugh received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his undergraduate degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.

The National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) brings together those interested in the study and appreciation of both fresh and salt water and provides a focus for marine and aquatic studies all over the world. The NMEA organization includes professionals in education, science, business, government, museums, aquariums and marine research.

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.

JAMSTEC was reorganized on 1 April 2004 with the main objective to promote marine scientific research and related technology, and to contribute to the advancement of academic research with engagement in fundamental research and development concerning ocean, and in cooperative activities on academic research related to the Ocean, for the benefit of peace and human welfares.

JAMSTEC considers the Earth as a unique system which is largely influenced by the Ocean and is involved in a wide scope of fundamental research to improve our knowledge on global environmental change through observational research, prediction research, and related technological development. At the same time, JAMSTEC aims to contribute to the sustainable advancement of the human community and to endeavor to ensure its peace and security, socio-economic development, and the improvement and expansion of knowledge enabling the scientific research results and other outcomes of the Agency's activities available to the public and further speeded knowledge and cognizance.

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.

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 National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) brings together those interested in the study and appreciation of both fresh and salt water and provides a focus for marine and aquatic studies all over the world. The NMEA organization includes professionals in education, science, business, government, museums, aquariums and marine research.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is a nonprofit research institution where scientists and engineers work together to explore and study the sea. In the words of founder David Packard: "The mission of MBARI is to achieve and maintain a position as a world center for advanced research and education in ocean science and technology, and to do so through the development of better instruments, systems, and methods for scientific research in the deep waters of the ocean." MBARI scientists and engineers conduct multidisciplinary research in a variety of fields, including marine biology, marine chemistry, marine geology, physical oceanography, and marine technology. Located in Moss Landing, California, MBARI is supported primarily by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

ARKive is a unique global initiative, gathering together the best films, photographs and audio recordings of the world's threatened animals, plants and fungi into one centralized digital library. Films and photographs are a powerful means of building environmental awareness - they can bring a scientific name to life, show what a species looks like and why it is special. Continued habitat destruction and the rise in extinction rates also mean that for many species, films and photographs may soon be all that remains. They are, therefore, important historical and scientific records of the species they depict. ARKive is leading the 'virtual' conservation effort by creating comprehensive and enduring multimedia species profiles, complementing other species information datasets, and making a key resource available for scientists, conservationists, educators and the general public. These important audio-visual records are being preserved and maintained for the benefit of future generations and are freely available at

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 ocean is essential to all life on Earth and Ocean Conservancy is the world's oldest and largest conservation organization dedicated solely to protecting this life support system. We're starting a sea change for generations to come.

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.

EarthEcho International empowers youth to take action that protects and restores our water planet. The organization was founded by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., son of Jacques Yves Cousteau. EarthEcho International is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youth to take action that protects and restores our water planet. EarthEcho International believes that if we truly want to save our water planet, then we must foster tomorrow’s leaders by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and tools to do. To that end, EarthEcho International engages youth to bring about global change by taking action in their communities, helping them to understand the vital connections between their lives and today's critical ocean and fresh water issues. Our programs leverage cutting-edge technology and the highest quality educational content to empower youth to both understand the conservation issues facing the environment and then take action through service-learning to solve them. The organization was founded by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., famous son of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau.

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.

Smithsonian Contributors

Igor Krupnik is Curator of Arctic and Northern Ethnology collections at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. He is currently in charge of some 30,000 ethnological objects at the NMNH originating from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Siberia, and the southern portion of the NW Coast. He has degrees in Geography (1973, University of Moscow), ethnography/cultural anthropology (Ph.D. 1977, Institute of Ethnology, Russian Academy of Sciences), and in ecology/subsistence management (Full Doctorate, 1991, Institute of Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences). His area of expertise includes modern cultures, ecological knowledge, and cultural heritage of the people of the Arctic, primarily in Alaska and Siberia; culture change and contact history; human ecology; history of Arctic science and Arctic indigenous studies; impact of modern climate change on Arctic residents, their economies, and cultures. For the past twenty years, he has worked with local Yupik and Inupiat communities in the Bering Strait Region (in Alaska and Russia) on various collaborative efforts, primarily in the documentation, publication, and sharing cultural knowledge with the host communities, and in opening archival and museum collections for people’s use in educational and heritage programs. He published and edited several books and collections, and numerous papers, including five edited volumes on indigenous knowledge and use of sea ice, and observations of Arctic environmental change

Kristina Cammen is a PhD candidate at the Duke University Marine Lab broadly interested in ocean health and molecular ecology. Kristina uses molecular techniques to study threats to marine mammal populations. Her recent research has investigated susceptibility to harmful algal blooms in Florida bottlenose dolphins, the role of genetic diversity and declining ice cover in U.S. harp seal strandings, and immune system genetics in grey seals in the United Kingdom.

Brianne Soulen is a first year PhD student at the University of North Texas working in an aquatic toxicology lab. She has broad interests in toxicology, with an emphasis on heavy metals, and genetics on marine mammal and seabird species. Her recent research has investigated the methylation of sediments due to burrowing activity, the speciation of mercury in fish livers, the role of genetic diversity and declining ice cover in U.S. harp seal strandings, and mercury contamination in red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico.

I am a marine microbiologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. My research is centered on the microbiomes of marine animals, and especially those that are threatened or endangered including marine mammals and corals. Research in my laboratory uses molecular and microscopy-based techniques to characterize animal-microbiomes. I seek to understand the potential for microorganisms to aid in the health of their host, or to provide information about the ocean environment that these animals inhabit.

David Pawson is a Senior Research Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. He received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is a marine biologist, specializing in the study of deep-sea sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and their relatives. In pursuit of his animals, he has made more than 100 dives in manned submersibles. He has served as the Acting Director of the Museum and as the Associate Director for Science. Dr. Pawson is on the adjunct faculty of Harvard University and The American University.

Yachtmans, scuba diver, and scientist, Dr. Rob Edwards works at the interface of biology and computing as an Associate Professor at the Departments of Computer Science and Biology at San Diego State University. Rob’s research is leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of how viruses interact with their hosts, and how viruses samples from around the world carry important genetic information. In 2014 Edwards and his team discovered the crAssphage virus that appears to be present in about half the worlds population.

After receiving his Ph. D. from the University of Sussex, in England studying nitrogen regulation in bacteria, Dr. Edwards moved to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, to study how a leading cause of traveler’s diarrhea (E. coli) causes disease. Dr. Edwards then moved to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign to study another food-borne pathogen, Salmonella. These studies merged the nascent area of genomics with traditional microbial genetics to investigate how a particular type of Salmonella became the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States.

From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Edwards was an Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, TN. Here, Dr. Edwards continued his studies on pathogenic bacteria, notably Salmonella and the bioterrorism weapon Francisella. Dr. Edwards received FBI clearance to work on these bacteria, and was invited to the NIH to comment on the use of Select Agents at basic research laboratories. In 2004, Dr. Edwards moved to the non-profit Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes to work at the interface of biologists and computer scientists, and worked with their team at Argonne National Laboratory. He remains an active software developer for Argonne and the Fellowship, developing open source software such as the PERL and Python modules for biological analysis and parallel computing that are used by scientists worldwide.

Using breakout technologies, like pyrosequencing, Ion Torrent sequencing, and high throughput bioinformatics analysis, Dr. Edwards’ studies are pushing the forefront of both sequencing technology and bioinformatics. This work was highlighted in three independent publications in Nature at the start of 2008.

Dr. Edwards is also an advanced scientific SCUBA diver having led teams to study Coral Reefs all over the world. In his spare time, he is an avid international yachtsman, competing in long-distance offshore races.