Marine Science Network

The Smithsonian Marine Science Network is a unique array of laboratories and research vessels that spans the latitudinal gradient of the western Atlantic and crosses the isthmus of Panama. Research focus is on the Chesapeake Bay, Indian River Lagoon, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, and the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama. The Smithsonian Marine Science Symposium contained over 70 oral and poster presentations by Smithsonian scholars and collaborators and represented the first major dissemination of marine research results since the establishment of the Marine Science Network (MSN) in 1998. The MSN operates a unique array of laboratories and research vessels that spans the latitudinal gradient of the western Atlantic (Chesapeake Bay, Indian River Lagoon, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and Panamanian Coast) and crosses the isthmus of Panama. The Network is dedicated to understanding the rich biodiversity and complex ecosystem dynamics that sustain coastal processes and productivity. We study evolutionary, ecological, and environmental change in the ocean’s coastal zones, increasing scientific knowledge of these environments, and improving society’s appreciation of the ocean’s effect on our lives. Coastal environments are of immense economic and environmental importance and comprise 95% of the ocean’s fisheries. Our coasts are the most densely populated and fastest growing communities in the U.S. The MSN ensures integrated support of “Discovering and Understanding Life’s Diversity,” a core Smithsonian scientific mission. MSN goals are to ensure that the whole of the integrated Network is larger than the sum of its parts leading to enhanced productivity through collaborative and comparative research, marine infrastructure development and support, professional training and outreach, and effective allocation of resources.

Research Diver Collecting Data

A scientific diver collects data on an underwater slate. Over the past several decades, scuba diving has become a serious, rigorous research tool that has an enormous impact on our understanding of this blue planet.