Ocean Life & Ecosystems

From the tiny to the titanic, from the familiar to the undiscovered, the ocean offers a stunning diversity of marine life and nearly every kind of habitat imaginable. Dive in and explore them here.

LATEST POSTS

DIVE DEEPER

Sharks

There are more than 500 species of sharks swimming in the world’s ocean. Yet when most people think of these cartilaginous...
An oceanic whitetip shark swims near a biologist in the Bahamas.

Image Gallery: Swimming with Sharks

For nearly 30 years, National Geographic photojournalist Brian Skerry has been swimming with and photographing sharks, including great whites, tigers, bulls, blacktips, and great hammerheads all around the world. In his first blog post...
A photo of Oceana's ice class research vessel, the Hanse Explorer, on the Baltic Sea.

Biodiversity in the Baltic Sea

In the spring of 2011, a research crew from Oceana spent two months in the brackish Baltic Sea . The Baltic faces challenges from pollution, algae blooms, over fishing, and invasive species. Oceana researchers...
Caribbean reef sharks swim over a coral reef in the Bahamas.

Swimming With Sharks

Lying in water only a foot deep, I watched the shark meander lazily through the mangrove, already exuding the confidence inherent of the supreme creature within its domain. It was hot here in Bimini,...
Two baby olive ridley sea turtles.

Surveying Life On Sea Turtles

These baby olive ridleys ( Lepidochelys olivacea ) will eventually provide a home to crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts. That's according to a survey of epibionts living on mature, nesting olive ridleys and green...
Two baby olive ridley sea turtles.

Baby Sea Turtles in Jalisco, Mexico

These baby olive ridleys ( Lepidochelys olivacea ) will eventually provide a home to crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts. That's according to a survey of epibionts living on mature, nesting olive ridleys and green...

Moby Dick's Boom Box: Sound Production in Sperm Whales

Dr. Stefan Huggenberger from the University of Cologne explains sound production in sperm whales in "Moby Dick's Boom Box: Nasal Complex of Sperm Whales," a presentation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History...
A light painted image of a hand-painted ceramic fish with light emitting from its mouth

Using Light Painting to Teach Bioluminescence

Watch this short video tutorial to learn how to do light painting. Painting with light is a photographic technique that can be used in the classroom to help students understand bioluminescence. What does a...

Sea Grapes: A Google Earth Tour

“Sea grapes” may sound like something Poseidon would snack on, and not a killer algae. Yet Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea poses a serious threat to marine life. Spread by the bilge water of boats...
A hermit crab looks out from its coral dwelling in the waters of Japan's Ogasawara Islands.

The Perfect Underwater Photo

There is of course, no such thing as the perfect photograph, as there is no perfect song, movie, or painting. Photography by its very nature is subjective and what appeals to one viewer may...
A tiny yellow goby living inside an abandoned can on the seafloor; Suruga Bay, Japan

Image Gallery: The Perfect Underwater Photo

For nearly 35 years, National Geographic photojournalist Brian Skerry has been immersing himself in the big blue to get the perfect underwater photograph. He admits that there will never will be a "perfect" photo,...
A white, elongated, and whorled wentletrap shell, seen from two angles.

Sanibel Island Shells: One Species at a Time

Ari Daniel Shapiro is joined for this episode of One Species at a Time by serious beachcombers along the high-tide line of Sanibel Island, Florida. These “shellers” come in search of beautiful sea shells,...
An illustration of multispecies communities of dugongs from India, Mexico and Florida

The Discovery of Multispecies Communities of Seacows

This reconstruction illustrates multispecies communities of seacows from three different time periods and ocean basins. Each seacow represents a different extinct species of dugong. Credit: Carl Buell/ http://carlbuell.com/ Sirenians , or seacows, are a...
A newly hatched leatherback turtle moves in the sand.

Habitat for Leatherback Turtles

Endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles now have nearly 42,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean to call their own. Thanks to a decision in January 2012 by the National Marine Fisheries Service, these magnificent reptiles...
An illustration of a recently discovered species of Monodontid, Bohaskaia monodontoides, and its beluga and narwhale relatives

Smithsonian Scientists Describe a 'New' Fossil Whale

A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is pictured in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated left to right in the...

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...
Nick Pyenson points to a skull and skeleton of a fossil whale.

Excavating a "toothed" baleen whale from Vancouver Island

Nick Pyenson, the Smithsonian's curator of fossil marine mammals, points to the skull and skeleton of a 23-25 million year old fossil "toothed" mysticete whale. Credit: NDP and J. A. Goldbogen/SI The whales that...
A researcher holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete whale from Vancouver Island.

Dispatches from the Field: Treacherous stream crossings and a new fossil find

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete from Vancouver Island. Credit: J. A. Goldbogen Editor's note: Read Nick's...
This shrimp is colored to fit in - probably why they are common members of the seaweed community.

A World Adrift: Life in the Sargassum Slideshow

Smithsonian Marine Science Network Postdoctoral Fellow, Seabird McKeon, returns from the Smithsonian field site in Belize. Together with Dan Barshis of Stanford University, Seabird reports on the seemingly invisible inhabitants of drifting sargassum seaweeds...

Pages