Smithsonian Institution

Welcome to the Ocean Portal. We focus on everything ocean – unusual and everyday organisms, ocean-inspired art, researchers devoting their lives to exploring the still mostly mysterious ecosystem. We here at the Ocean Portal learn something new everyday and we want to share it with you! 

The Ocean Portal is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Initiative. Together with the National Museum of Natural History’s Sant Ocean Hall and the Sant Marine Science Chair, the Ocean Portal supports the Smithsonian’s mission to increase the public’s understanding and stewardship of the Ocean.

Tour the Chikyu

Climb aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel Chikyu for a tour of this state-of-the-art research ship.

How You Can Help the Ocean

The threats faced by our ocean planet may seem overwhelming. In the face of pollution, climate change, overfishing, and other daunting problems, what you can do on your own may seem like a drop in the bucket. But if we begin...

Diving in Guam

Dr. Valerie Paul is studying chemical defenses that may protect coral reefs from many species of herbivores that live on coral reefs. In this picture she is examining tropical seaweeds on northwestern Guam’s coral reefs. Dr...

CO2 Marsh Study

How do plants respond to rising CO2 levels? To find out, plant physiologist Bert Drake at SERC exposed marsh plants near the Chesapeake Bay to CO2 levels expected in 50 and 100 years. Different species and ecosystems respond...

Seafloor Earthquakes Study

Geophysicist Jian Lin of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chief U.S. scientist aboard the Chinese oceanographic ship DaYang Yihao studied the earthquake site that triggered 2004’s Indian Ocean tsunami. Read an...

Underwater Archaeology

Geo-archaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley studies ancient settlements submerged near Egypt’s Nile Delta. Analyzing how natural and human-induced processes caused their sinking may help us protect vulnerable coastal cities such...

Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World

With striking imagery from her book Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World, Deborah Cramer makes a powerful case for a basic truth about the ocean: we need the sea, and now the sea needs us.

Healthy Coral Head

On a healthy coral reef, fish (as well as many other organisms) thrive. Not only are reefs beautiful, but they are also critical to ocean health and human livelihoods.

Two Views of Coral Reefs: Thriving and Threatened

Coral reefs are beautiful, vibrant ecosystems that house roughly one quarter of all marine species and provide billions of dollars in products and services to humans each year. But they are also vulnerable to human...