Now that you have your feet wet, you can continue exploring the vast ocean and learning about its inhabitants. There are plenty of options, from books to websites, that don't require a bathing suit. Check out some of the resources below or browse our list of Ocean Conservation Resources.
Smithsonian Marine Science Network
Smithsonian scientists are working to understand the marine environment at research stations along the coast from Maryland to Panama. Learn more about their research through the Smithsonian's Marine Science Network. You can also browse some of the specimens Smithsonian scientists use in their work at the Smithsonian Ocean Science page. Or visit the individual field station websites to find out more.
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, MD
- Smithsonian Marine Station in Ft. Pierce, FL
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama City, Panama
- Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program (CCRE) in Carrie Bow Cay, Belize
Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely
In the Arctic Ocean, climate change is warming the water and melting the sea ice, which could disrupt currents that help keep Earth's climate stable. The climate of the Arctic itself is also changing, and residents and scientists are scrambling to respond. Read about what is happening, watch an eyewitness documentary, and explore photographs, maps, and models to learn more. The Smithsonian, in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), also has created a series of classroom tools for middle school teachers.
Every three to seven years, the trade winds that usually blow east to west over the Pacific Ocean weaken, and the waters of the central and eastern Pacific warm up, causing an El Niño event. This cyclical phenomenon affects the ocean’s entire food chain and, thus, the fishing industry. Tiny plants that normally live near the surface die, and fish congregate at greater depths where birds and mammals can't reach them. Read more about how El Niño can affect weather patterns worldwide and how scientists are studying–and working to predict– the phenomenon.
Living Fossils of the Deep: An Expedition to the Bahamian Seafloor
In 1999, a team of researchers that included Smithsonian scientists used a submersible to explore deep waters off the Bahamas. Half a mile (790 meters) down, they gathered Midas slitsnails, primitive animals that may hold clues to the natural history of mollusks—the group containing snails, clams, octopi, and other creatures with shells. On their website, read dispatches from the crew, see what the ocean looks like from a submersible, and learn more about what the researchers found.
Virtual Tour: Life in the Ancient Seas
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is also home to the permanent exhibit Life in the Ancient Seas, which tells the story of marine evolution and the fantastic creatures that swam the seas millions of years ago. You can see some of the amazing fossils in the exhibit by taking the virtual tour. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Virtual Tour: Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit
At the Smithsonian research facility in Fort Pierce, Florida, visitors can tour the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit, which presents six ecosystems from off the coast of Florida. Even if you can't visit in person, you can still explore the reef, seagrass beds, and mangroves online.
National Zoological Park, Ocean Living
The Smithsonian's National Zoo hosts a page chock-full of information about marine animals. Watch live footage of a giant Pacific octopus on the octopus cam, send an E-card to a friend, or get the latest on the zoo's marine life exhibits.
National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) Ocean Explorer Program
Every year, dozens of NOAA researchers set out in ships, submarines, and scuba gear to explore the ocean. Now, you can follow along through their Ocean Explorer Program. Read crew logs, see pictures, watch video, or listen to recordings from Bonaire to the Ring of Fire.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Science and Engineering
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) seeks to develop better instruments, systems, and methods for scientific research in the deep waters of the ocean. On their website, find out about MBARI research in the channels of the Monterey Bay—a natural laboratory for deep ocean studies.
New England Aquarium
Learn about everything from African penguins to green sea turtles in the New England Aquarium’s animal profiles. Find out what different species eat, where they live, how they raise their young, and more. Some profiles include videos.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oceanus
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the world's largest nonprofit ocean research, engineering, and education organization. WHOI chronicles the work of its 750 staff members in Oceanus—a regularly updated, full-color magazine available online.
From 1958 to 1967, Smithsonian scientist Leonard Schultz presided over the International Shark Attack File—an ongoing record of shark attacks on humans created to help Navy personnel avoid being bitten. The Florida Museum of Natural History now maintains the file. Visit their site to learn more about the topic and see how likely—or rather unlikely—it is that you will be attacked by a shark.
National Marine Educators Association
The National Marine Educators Association brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of fresh and salt water and provides a focus for marine and aquatic studies all over the world. Visit their website to learn more about ocean education, sign up for the educator e-newsletter, or browse the free marine science resources for teachers.
Ocean Literacy Principles
In 2004, a group of nearly 100 ocean scientists and educators pooled their expertise to produce a guide to achieving ocean literacy in classrooms and society as a whole. They listed seven essential principles and many supporting concepts that should be understood by ocean-literate citizens. Find out what they are, and consider incorporating some into your teaching.
Multi-Media Resources & Field Guides:
Smithsonian Photography Initiative
Search the Smithsonian's photograph collections for ocean-related images. Find everything from archival shots of shark specimens to modern images of plankton under the microscope.
Ocean Living Photo Gallery
The ocean teems with life—from dazzling green anemones to adorable seal pups. Take a closer look at a sampling of the incredibly diverse aquatic community in the National Zoo’s Ocean Living Photo Gallery. It includes links to fact sheets about some of the animals featured.
NOAA Photo Library
Browse more than 10,000 ocean- and weather-related images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Marine Photobank offers hundreds of images related to the conservation of ocean ecosystems and wildlife, contributed by individual photographers, researchers, educators, government agencies, and non-government organizations. The images are available at no cost for non-commercial purposes and media use.
Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory
The Smithsonian Marine Station in Ft. Pierce, Florida has assembled a species inventory for the Indian River Lagoon—perhaps the most biologically diverse estuarine system in the continental U.S. It includes images of many of the area's 3,000 or more species as well as scenery from the lagoon. The photo galleries are divided by category for easy browsing.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Online Field Guide
The Monterey Bay Aquarium showcases marine life in the Monterey Bay and beyond. With a 28-foot-tall giant kelp forest, sea otters, penguins, and many more marine creatures, it's an excellent place to see ocean wildlife up close. But if you can’t make the trip, you can still learn about the animals and their habitats through the aquarium’s online field guide.
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum Online Field Guide
Trying to identify a shell? Browse this museum's photo field guide to shells of southwest Florida. It offers hundreds of large, clear images and information to help you distinguish between species.
Songs of the Water Ways
For centuries, sailors and fisherman have written and sung sea chanteys—catchy songs that pass on stories about battles, storms, or the mighty sea itself. Visit the Smithsonian Global Sound Archive to hear samples and learn about their rich history.
Marine Animal Sound Recordings
Clicking, grunting, whistling—ocean wildlife makes a lot of noise if you listen closely. Hear the best of the marine animal sound recordings from the Macaulay Library at Cornell University.
Listening for Right Whales
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with only 350 surviving. Researchers use sound recordings to study and help protect these majestic giants, and now you can listen in.
The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky
Chased By Sea Monsters by Nigel Marven and Jasper James
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian
Eye of the Albatross by Carl Safina
EXTREME Sea Creatures by Jennifer Hoffman and Alison Fromme
Ichthyo: The Architecture of Fish by Deborah Klochko, Stephanie Comer, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Daniel Pauly, Lynne R. Parenti, and Sandra J. Raredon
Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas by Sylvia A. Earle and Linda K. Glover
OCEAN—The World's Last Wilderness Revealed by Robert Dinwiddie and Louise Thomas
One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook by Carole Baldwin and Julie Mounts
Reef by Scubazoo
Science 101: Ocean Science by Jennifer Hoffman
The Sea around Us by Rachel Carson
Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation by James R. Spotila
The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean by Trevor Corson
The Shark Handbook: The Essential Guide for Understanding the Sharks of the World by Greg Skomal (author) and Nick Caloyianis (photographer)
Sharks of the World by Leonard Compagno, Marc Dando, and Sarah Fowler
The Search for the Giant Squid: The Biology and Mythology of the World's Most Elusive Sea Creature by Richard Ellis
Shells by Philippe Bouchet (author) and Gilles Mermet (photographer)
Ship by Brian Lavery
Smithsonian Handbook: Shells by S. Peter Dance
Smithsonian Handbook: Whales & Dolphins by Mark Carwardine
Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World by Deborah Cramer
Song for the Blue Ocean by Carl Safina
Underwater Eden–365 Days by Jeffery L. Rotman
World Atlas of Coral Reefs by Mark D. Spalding, Edmund P. Green and Corinna Ravilious
Alphabet of Ocean Animals by Laura Gates Galvin (author), Steven James Petruccio (illustrator), Joanie Popeo (illustrator), Walter Stuart (illustrator), and Stephen Marchesi (illustrator)
Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale
Oceans Atlas by John Woodward
Oceans by John Woodward
Sea Creatures: A Squirmy, Scary, Prickly Pop-Up by Sally Hewitt (author), Chris Gilvan-Cartwright (illustrator)
Sea Critters by Sylvia Earle (author) and Wolcott Henry (photographer)
Sharks and Other Creatures of the Deep by DK Publishing
Whale of a Tale by Bonnie Worth (author) and Aristides Ruiz (illustrator)
Wish for a Fish: All About Sea Creatures by Bonnie Worth
Encyclopedia Smithsonian Reading Lists
Click on the following links for a listing of resources about each topic. Complied by Smithsonian staff, these lists include scientific literature as well as books, periodicals, and websites for children and adults.
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