Changing Tides: A Series of Ocean Discussions

The ocean is essential to all life, but experts agree that there are changes affecting the ocean and how it functions. With this in mind, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) are proud to presenta series of talks by top ocean scientists about current research and how it is helping to change the tide in ocean science and conservation.

Gulf Coast of Florida tidal flats exposed by an early morning low tide.


William Folsom, NOAA, NMFS


Glowing photophores are visible on a squid (Abralia veranyi) viewed from below at low light levels.


E. Widder, ORCA,

November 8, 2012
Bioluminescence in Art and Science
Light made by living organisms is both scientifically illuminating and artistically inspiring. Dr. Widder, an internationally recognized expert in bioluminescence, examined the intersection of science and art in bioluminescence, describing how science inspires art and art illuminates science. Watch the video of Dr. Widder's talk "Bioluminescence in Art and Science.";

The breakthrough AIDS treatment AZT was based on a chemical discovered in the sea sponge Tectitethya crypta.


Sven Zea (

October 17, 2012
Drugs from the Deep
Dr. Shirley Pomponi talked about manned undersea exploration of the U.S. outer continental shelf and deep coral reefs, and her quest to discover chemicals from marine sponges for drug development. Dr. Pomponi is a Research Professor and Executive Director of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration,Research and Technology (CIOERT) at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University, in Fort Pierce, Florida. Her research focuses on marine biotechnology, in general, and on sponges that produce chemicals with pharmaceutical properties, in particular. Watch the video of Dr. Pomponi's talk "Drugs From the Deep."

Dive through the zones of the ocean to the deep ocean bottom where many strange species live, and there are many yet to be discovered. Explore them in the Deep Ocean Exploration section.

Credit:  Karen Carr / Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Sant Ocean Hall

July 19, 2012
What We Don't Know About the Deep Sea
NMNH's Dave Pawson interviewed Penn State deep sea biologist Charles Fisher about the deep sea and the amazing things that can be discovered in this part of the ocean that we know so little about. Read more from Dave about what we don't know about the deep sea and watch the lecture, and catch up wtih our live tweeting of the event

The food web, demonstrated by interpretive dancers in the production Ocean.


William Roden/Spector Dance

June 3, 2012
Ocean Dance Combines Science and Art
From Monterey Bay, California comes a dance about the ocean. Melding scientist interviews, underwater footage, original music, and, above all, interpretive dance, the SpectorDance company hopes to inspire ocean awareness and action through this innovative performance.

Read an interview with the producers of Ocean, choreographer Fran Spector Atkins and photographer Bill Roden, and watch the full video of the performance, including a lecture on ocean acidification from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute scientist George Matsumoto.

Oil burns during a controlled fire May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.


Justin E. Stumberg/U.S. Navy

April 19th, 2011
One Year After the Gulf Oil Spill
Where do things stand with wildlife, seafood, and the clean-up? Hear from our panel of experts discussing what happened, what we have learned, and the current status of the Gulf of Mexico one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began:

Archived Webcast: Watch the archived webcast of "One Year After the Gulf Oil Spill" recorded at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on April 19th.

Dr. Rita Colwell, a former director of the National Science Foundation, is a Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

February 24th, 2011

Dr. Rita Colwell presents "Climate, Oceans, and Human Health: The Cholera Paradigm"

With the recent cholera outbreaks in Haiti, the impact of climate change on communicable diseases is becoming a major public health issue. Join use for the third installment of the Changing Tides lecture series, featuring Dr. Rita Colwell, a former director of the National Science Foundation and Distinguished University Professor at both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Colwell's research looks at the connection between the ocean and human health, in particular waterborne infectious diseases, such as Cholera.

Dr. Isaac Ginis, Professor of Oceanography at The University of Rhode Island, is an expert in hurricane modeling.


Courtesy Isaac Ginis

October 7th, 2010
Dr. Isaac Ginis presents "Eye on the Storm: Predicting a Hurricane's Path of Destruction"

Watch the video of this presentation.

With hurricane season in full swing, join us for the second installment of the Changing Tides lecture series, featuring Dr. Isaac Ginis, a Professor of Oceanography at The University of Rhode Island and an expert in hurricane modeling. Dr. Ginis will discuss how scientists observe, model, and forecast hurricanes around the world and then take questions from the audience. Learn more about the hurricanes and how we model them on the new website Hurricanes: Science and Society.


Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


Courtesy Jeremy Jackson

June 8th, 2010
Dr. Jeremy Jackson presents "Brave New Ocean"

Watch the video of this presentation.

Join us on World Ocean Day to kick off this series with "Brave New Ocean," a talk from renowned ocean scientist, Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and a Professor of Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


The Changing Tides series is made possible by generous support from the National Science Foundation. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 0943671. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.