Oceanography is the study of the oceans as ecological systems. In this section, learn about topics like currents, deep-sea research or how rogue waves work.

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All that seashell collecting you've been doing actually hurts the environment.

By Mark Mancini

Blue whales are the largest mammal ever known to exist on Earth. So what makes these creatures so huge?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Water covers about 71 percent of Earth's surface, but do you know the difference between an ocean and a sea? And which ocean is the smallest?

By Amanda Onion


The ocean’s depths are one of the most mysterious areas on the planet – and the inhabitants of this murky domain are stranger than anything you’ll find on land.

If you've ever been pulled underwater at the beach and came up sputtering with a mouthful of salt water, you might wonder where the ocean picked up that briny flavor. Read on to learn just where all that salt comes from.

By Bambi Turner

Early explorers drove flags into the ground to claim territories. But no one bothered to float a flag in the oceans. For the most part, we peaceably shared the oceans until we realized what valuable goods could be found in their dark and murky depths.

By Josh Clark

Ocean currents can have an incredible impact on Earth's weather. This gallery of images shows how powerful ocean currents can be in the environment.

By Rick Mayda


Whether you sail, surf, fish or collect shells, having one of these could help you out before you hit the water.

By Jennifer Horton

The climate crisis is messing with the water cycle. Some places are getting way too much, while others aren't getting any water at all. We'll explain.

By Stephanie Parker

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, plays an essential role in regulating ocean temperatures, but it looks as if it may be collapsing. What happens next?

By Joanna Thompson

The waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet at the tip of Cape Horn and never the two shall mix, right?

By Jesslyn Shields


The dead zone, caused by massive amounts of algae growth, is a vast area off the Gulf of Mexico that is deadly to marine life. How is human activity making the dead zone worse?

By Jacob Silverman

Seventy percent of the Earth's fresh water is in polar ice caps, the those caps calve icebergs all the time. So why can't we use those icebergs to provide fresh water that so many countries are in desperate need of?

By Marshall Brain

The oceans are rising, and they're threatening to take down some of the world's brightest cultural gems. Here are 10 of the most notable spots endangered by climate change.

By Chris Opfer

There's still a lot we don't know about the world. A thousand years ago, we thought we could literally sail off the edge of the planet. Good thing we're quick learners. But while space may be the final frontier, the ocean may be the greater mystery.

By Kate Kershner


There's no denying it: "Anomaly" is a great word, full of danger and mystery. So when an underwater object is declared a bona fide anomaly, it's no surprise our ears perk up a bit. But is the Baltic Sea anomaly worth the hype or just a big old dud?

By Kate Kershner & Yara Simón

Tubeworms aren't antisocial; they just prefer an environment that's a little different from the rest of us — one that happens to be as hot as an oven and riddled with bacteria.

By Oisin Curran

For hundreds of years, sailors have recounted coming upon miles and miles of pale, milky, glowing waters, sometimes stretching as far as the eye can see. So what causes this milky sea phenomenon?

By Chelsea Hedquist

Desalination has long been considered too expensive and too energy-intensive to make much sense. But with newer technologies, that line of thinking is changing. What are some of the most interesting desalination projects on the planet?

By Jessika Toothman


As global freshwater sources become scarcer, desalination plants play an increasingly pivotal role, transforming our vast oceans into drinkable reserves. Let's delve deeper into the mechanics of these vital facilities.

By Laurie L. Dove & Desiree Bowie

Rip currents are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards: About 80 percent of all beach rescues are related to rip currents. Learn what they are and what you should do if you get caught in one.

By Tom Harris

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world's largest landfill, and it can be found in the middle of the Pacific. Millions of pounds of trash collect here.

By Jacob Silverman

The Pacific Ocean trash vortex is explained in this article. Learn about the Pacific Ocean trash vortex.

By Brian Merchant


You might never notice the relentless movement of the oceans unless their waters went eerily still. What forces drive the oceans every second of the day?

By Jennifer Horton

Without water, Earth would be a barren and lifeless planet. But did you know the Earth's water supply has not increased or decreased for billions of years? No wonder hydrologists are so fascinated by water.

By Jennifer Pocock