Smithsonian Ocean Team

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.

Feasting Bowl

With an abundance of salmon, early hunting and foraging societies were transformed into settled villages with expanding social networks and elaborate festivities. The festivities often included ceremonial objects like this...

Salmon Skin Mittens

Crafted from the skins of salmon, these mittens are naturally waterproof. They kept hands dry while paddling or working with fish nets. Learn more about Northwest Pacific cultures and marine life in the Raven Spirit photo...

Catching Salmon

Fish spears and fish weirs—fish traps placed in rivers—are traditional ways of catching salmon on rivers. More about raven spirit can be found in our Raven Spirit featured story .

Ceremonial Rattles

Classic examples of Northwest Coast art, these rattles from British Columbia illustrate the sophisticated way of life salmon helped provide. They were used during shamanistic performances to cure sickness and combat...

Right Whale Baleen

A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a giant sieve to catch the...

Baleen Close Up

This may look like a mane of hair, but it’s actually baleen from a North Atlantic Right Whale. Although it looks soft and furry, dried baleen is quite stiff, which made it useful for creating structure in a number of...

Copepods: Right Whale Food

This magnified photo provides a close-up look at copepods—tiny crustaceans that right whales feed on. There are many species of copepods that live throughout the water column, from floating at the surface to buried at the...

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.

Whale Lice

This close-up photo of a right whale's head shows dozens of hitchhikers—tiny crustaceans known as whale lice, or cyamid amphipods. They live on the rough patches of skin (known as callosities) on North Atlantic right whales...

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...

The Search for Whale Poop

Fargo, the dog pictured here, is not just having a relaxing day at sea. He is helping researchers at the New England Aquarium in Boston detect scat (or poop) from North Atlantic right whales . The dogs find about four times...

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