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.

Dining - Right Whale Style

Right whales may be huge, but their food is surprisingly tiny. They eat mainly copepods, tiny crustaceans like those shown here. Each copepod is only about the size of a grain of rice! As you can imagine, it takes a lot of copepods to feed a hungry whale. But whale-sized mouthfuls add up quickly. Scientists estimate that, on average, right whales swallow about 58 kilograms (128 pounds) of copepods an hour. Some have been known to feed for up to 18 hours a day.

Cutting Down the Tree

Jacqueline (Johnson) Peta, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians and member of Sealaska Corporation’s board of directors, sprinkles goose down on a traditional blanket at a tree-cutting ceremony for...

The Whale Family Tree

This family tree shows how the ancestors of whales moved gradually from land to sea. Early whales took advantage of abundant marine resources, feeding on the ocean's fish, squid and other larger food. Baleen whales evolved...

Raven Watches the Carver

As Chilton prepared the cedar for carving, he noticed a raven with an injured wing watching. Later, as he carved the canoe in Juneau, he again noticed a raven with an injured wing looking on. He believes it was the same bird...

Raven Keeps Watch over Carver

Sometimes the “Watcher,” a raven with an irregular wing, monitored carver Douglas Chilton’s progress on the canoe from an overhead perch. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .

Whales Returned to the Sea

Vertebrates evolved in the sea and eventually moved onto land. The ancestors of whales later returned to the sea, taking advantage of its rich food supplies. As early whales adapted to their new marine surroundings, a...

Canoe Placed in Potomac River

Tlingit paddlers carefully lift the Raven Spirit canoe into Washington’s Potomac River for its ceremonial launch. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .

Inupiat Harpoon Box

During whale hunts, this carved whale box stored harpoon blades like the three shown beside it. "Living" inside the box was meant to give the blades spiritual powers to carry a harpoon back to the blade's "home" in the whale.

Canoe Figurehead

With the sun in its beak, a raven figurehead points the way for the Raven Spirit canoe, now on display at the Smithsonian Institution. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .

Inupiat Ceremonial Mask

Made from spruce wood and caribou teeth, this mask was worn in ceremonies of thanksgiving. It sits atop a decorative breastplate with images of whaling crews in skin boats called umiaks.

Celebrating in Washington

Members of the Tlingit Nation celebrate the September 2008 opening of the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .