Smithsonian Institution

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 Giant Squid: From Myth to Reality

People once thought giant squid (right) were Sea Monks or mermen (left)—mythical creatures that were part fish-like and part human male. Credit: Roeleveld Knudsen, 1980 During the 1500s, several large sea creatures were...

Jellyfish Sandwiches

More desirable fish species like tuna , bass, and swordfish are being fished out, leaving us with species lower on the food chain—like jellyfish . Could this burger show up on lunch menus one day soon? More about seafood can...

Reef Fish, French Frigate Shoals

Healthy coral reefs support a mindboggling array of life. Here, at Rapture Reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, colorful fishes throng the waters for as far as the eye can see.

Feather Star

As it clings to a red sea fan, a feather star ( Cenometra bella ) gently waves its slender arms—filtering bits of food from the water. Also known as sea lilies, feather stars are related to sea stars. Learn more about life...

Hiding Blennie

Portrait of a yellow-green blennie ( family Clinidae ) hiding in the groove of a green brain coral.

Spotfin Lionfish

The spotfin lionfish ( Pterois antennata ), with venomous spines extended, is native to Indo-Pacific reefs. Certain lionfish species have invaded reefs in Florida, the Caribbean and are moving up the Atlantic coast. The...

Queen Parrotfish

Munch, munch. The queen parrotfish ( Scarus vetula ) scrapes algae from Caribbean coral reefs with its parrot-like beak. While feeding, hard stone and coral inevitably get mixed into its lunch, which in turn gets ground up...

Sea Anemone

If you don’t like purple, you can look for this anemone (Condylactis sp.) in green. It comes in different colors and brightens a variety of Caribbean reef habitats, from lagoons to deeper waters.


Portrait of a scallop with black and white striped lips, whose shell is encrusted with a red sponge.

Purple Nudibranch

The feathery strands at the back of this nudibranch’s ( Chromodoris willani ) body are no mere adornment: they’re its gills! Nudibranchs, shell-less snails or sea slugs, are named for these tufted gills, as "nudibranch"...

Leopard Sea Slugs Crawl Together

Two brown and purple nudibranchs ( Risbecia tryoni ), crawling in tandem on a surface encrusted with pink-colored coralline algae. These "sea slugs" live in the tropical Western Pacific Ocean. You can learn more about coral...

Green Sea Turtle

A diet of algae and seagrasses gives this turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) greenish colored fat—and its name. Weighing as much as 500 pounds, the threatened green sea turtle lives its life at sea, with only females coming to shore...