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.
A diet of algae and seagrasses gives this turtle (Chelonia mydas) greenish colored fat—and its name. Weighing as much as 500 pounds, the threatened green sea turtle lives its life at sea, with only females coming to shore to lay eggs. See a slideshow with more pictures of beautiful but threatened animals.
This close-up photo shows the tough, serrated ring around the opening of a giant squid sucker. The ring is made of chitin—the same material that’s in your fingernails. Using suction, the sucker tightly grips the squid’s prey. The ring digs into the skin of the giant squid’s only predator—the sperm whale—leaving its mark behind.
An adult giant squid struggles for survival in an encounter with a sperm whale - its only known predator. The whale will probably overpower and eat the squid. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid section.
Ghost crabs are often seen scuttling quickly along beaches at night, when they emerge from their burrows to feed, and can be difficult to photograph in the wild. They are common in Moorea, an island in the Pacific Ocean, where this specimen was collected. More about the Moorea can be found in the article "Scientists Catalog Life on the Island of Moorea."
This bluefin trevally is lucky to call Hawaii’s Maro Coral Reef, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, its home. Maro is the largest reef in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and just one of the many marine ecosystems protected in the 140,000 square miles of Papahānaumokuākea, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.
In this close-up photo, you can actually see the photosynthetic algae, or zooxanthellae, living inside a tiny coral polyp. Look for the brownish-green specks in the colorless polyp. Corals depend on these algae for food and for some of their oxygen. To learn more about coral reefs, explore our featured ecosystem Coral Reefs.
Sperm whales have conical teeth on their long, narrow, lower jaw. The teeth fit neatly into sockets in the upper jaw, which has no teeth. This arrangement is a perfect adaptation for slurping up soft-bodied squids—giant or otherwise. The sperm whale is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.
This scanning electron micrograph magnifies the tiny teeth that cover the surface of the giant squid’s tongue-like organ, or radula. Seven rows of sharp teeth help direct tiny pieces of food down the squid’s esophagus (only three are shown here). Because the esophagus passes through the brain before reaching the stomach, the pieces of food must be small.
Imagine an adult person – now triple that size. That’s the size of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The biggest great white sharks can reach up to 20 feet long, but most are smaller. The average female is 15-16 feet long, while males reach 11-13 feet. More about the great white shark can be found in our great white shark overview.