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.
Imagine an adult person – now triple that size. That’s the size of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The biggest great white sharks can reach up to 20 feet long, but most are smaller. The average female is 15-16 feet long, while males reach 11-13 feet. More about the great white shark can be found in our great white shark overview.
The larger of two giant squids on display in the Smithsonian's Sant Ocean Hall, this female was caught in a fisherman's net off the coast of Spain in 2005. It was probably 2-3 years old and, when alive, 11 meters (36 feet) long with tentacles that extended 6.7 meters (22 feet). It weighed more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds). Since then it has shrunk considerably.
The largest of the cuttlefish species, Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) delight scientists each year as they gather in masses to spawn in northern Spencer Gulf, northwest of Adelaide in Australia.
This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also lived on land. An ancestor of the right whale, Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and webbed feet, like modern seals. But it also had ankle bones - clues that although Maiacetus swam, its ancestors walked. As later whales evolved to become more aquatic, the telltale anklebone disappeared.
The fossil tooth whorl of the ancient shark Helicoprion, dating back 290 million years before present. For a long time, people didn't know what the shark looked like—but, thanks to a CT scan of a fossil, researchers finally put the pieces together in 2013. Read more about this story in our great white shark overview, and learn more about top predators like Helicoprion in the Ocean Over Time section.
An array of teeth from the sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus. The Smithsonian has the largest collection of shark teeth in the world, with more than 90,000 fossil shark teeth. More about sharks and great whites can be found in our Great White Shark featured story.
The longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi) can be found near seagrasses, corals, sargassum and mangroves. These seahorses usually are between three to seven inches tall and could be threatened habitat destruction, bycatch and the collection and trading of the species.
Male fiddler crabs, like this one collected on Moorea, wave their enlarged claw as way of signaling to other crabs, especially during mating season. Learn more about the Island of Moorea in the Pacific Ocean, including its biodiversity and the scientific effort to catalog all the life found on its land and in its waters.
It's hard to imagine a 2000-pound animal launching itself out of the water while hunting, but the great white shark does just that. This spectacular behavior is called breaching, and great white sharks breach in order to catch fast-moving prey like seals.