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.

Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) Alvin

The research submersible Alvin uses bright lights to illuminate the dark seafloor. Built in 1964, it has made more than 4,400 dives. It can carry two scientists and a pilot as deep as 4,500 meters (14,764 feet). Alvin is...

Launch of an Autonomous Benthic Explorer

This autonomous operated vehicle, known as an ABE (autonomous benthic explorer), will map sites where seafloor earthquakes have occurred—enhancing our understanding of these catastrophic events.

Hybrid Vehicle Nereus

On May 31, 2009, this one-of-a-kind hybrid robotic vehicle reached the deepest part of the ocean—the Marianas Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, 10,902 meters (6.8 miles) below the surface. That makes the remotely...

ROV Tethered to Ship

A cable connects a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to a ship at the surface, where it is operated by a pilot onboard the ship. The cable can extend for miles into the deep sea.

Dr. Michael Vecchione

In 2009 Dr. Vecchione served as Chief Scientist on a six-week expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for the Census of Marine Life. He is shown here aboard the expedition ship, NOAA’s Henry B. Bigelow.

Exploring the Ocean with Robots and Submarines

To explore the deep ocean, scientists rely on numerous pieces of high-tech equipment . This photo gallery showcases some of the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), submersibles, and other devices that have been used. Read...

Deep Ocean Diversity Slideshow

Deep sea animals have to live in a very cold, dark, and high-pressure environment where they can't see a thing! To survive there, they've evolved some very strange adapations. Some make their own light, an ability called...

Deep Ocean Explorers

The submersible Alvin carries scientists to the deep ocean, where they encounter amazing creatures and views of deep ocean life. Explore more in the Deep Ocean Exploration section .

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

Scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) collect sediments drilled from Earth’s crust. This marine research program supported by 24 countries is increasing our understanding of Earth’s history, structure...

The Ocean Drilling Vessel Chikyu

The Chikyu allows scientists to gather and study data about seafloor sediments as soon as they are collected. After a powerful 9.0 earthquake triggered a devestating tsunami in Japan in March 2011 , Japanese officials...