Many boundaries between geologic eras are marked by physical golden spikes. This one, in South Australia, marks the end of the Ediacaran period, 635 million years ago.

Where in the World Is the Anthropocene?

Some geologists believe we’ve entered a new era. Now they have to search for the rocks that prove it

Demonstrators on the first Earth Day, Union Square, New York.

Why Didn't the First Earth Day's Predictions Come True? It's Complicated

More than half a century ago, scientists and activists predicted utter doom for the planet. That hasn't happened yet, but it's nothing to cheer about

Twins Ida and Irene practice swimming in a learn-to-swim program on Eydhafushi, an island in the Maldives.

Third-Graders in the Maldives Discover the Beauty Beneath Their Seas

Many tourists have experienced the Maldives’ beauty. Most Maldivians haven’t, because they don’t know how to swim

14 Fun Facts About Marine Bristle Worms

In honor of the first ever International Polychaete Day, learn about the bristly worms that are everywhere in the ocean

Five Things The Gulf Oil Spill Has Taught Us About the Ocean

While researching the spill, scientists tracked deep-sea sharks, found new mud dragons, and discovered a type of ocean current

Singer and plastic-clothing designer Pharrell Williams at the "Raw For The Oceans" event at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The Top 12 Ocean Stories That Made Waves in 2014

The seas served up some compelling headlines this year, from celebrity fashion to solving the mystery of the melting starfish

Moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) drift in dark waters at the Sunshine International Aquarium in Tokyo.

Big Moon Jelly Blooms Tied to New Dock Construction

A floating pier installed off Japan led to a four-fold increase in baby jellies, offering a solid link between structures and blooms

Oil floats on the surface of Gulf waters in June 2010. Is it still there today?

Breaking Down the Myths and Misconceptions About the Gulf Oil Spill

Does oil stick around in the ecosystem indefinitely? What was the deal with the deformed fish? Can anything bad that happens in the Gulf be blamed on oil?

A screenshot of the first video of a giant squid in the wild.

The Top Five Ocean Stories of 2013

This year we've seen amazing footage of marine creatures, discovered how plastic works its way into the food chain, employed 3D printing to build new reefs

Jonah is cast overboard to a sea monster in an image from the earliest known atlas, the Theatrum orbis terrarum, by Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, first published in 1570.

The Enchanting Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps

Fictitious animals on 16th and early 17th century maps hint at how people's perception of the ocean has changed over time

Migaloo, the white whale

Call Me Migaloo: The Story Behind Real-Life White Whales

White whales, such as the recently spotted humpback nicknamed Migaloo, are rare and elusive creatures. How many are there and why are they white?

Oceanographer Gareth Lawson, who studies pteropods, was able to identify Kavanagh’s sculptures to species, such as this Limacina helicina.

The Gorgeous Shapes of Sea Butterflies

Cornelia Kavanagh's sculptures magnify tiny sea butterflies—ocean acidification's unlikely mascots—hundreds of times


Top Ten Stories About Sharks Since the Last Shark Week

Shark tourism, cannibalistic shark embryos, wetsuits designed to camouflage from sharks and more

A community of glass sponges under Antarctica’s ice.

Glass Sponges Move In As Antarctic Ice Shelves Melt

Typically slow-growing glass sponge communities are popping up quickly now that disappearing shelf ice has changed ocean conditions around Antarctica

The shelled sea butterfly Hyalocylis striata can be found in the warm surface waters of the ocean around the world.

Amazing Sea Butterflies Are the Ocean’s Canary in the Coal Mine

These delicate and stunning creatures are offering Smithsonian scientists a warning sign for the world's waters turning more acidic

Emperor penguins swimming

14 Fun Facts About Penguins

Which penguin swims the fastest? Do penguins have teeth? Why do penguins sneeze? How is penguin poop useful?

Beneath the seafloor, there is an ecosystem of microbes living in the oceanic crust, independent of sunlight. Here, the seafloor of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.

Microbes Buried Deep in Ocean Crust May Form World’s Largest Ecosystem

Far below the ocean floor, scientists have discovered a microbial community away from undersea vents, beyond the reach of the sun


Photos of Starfish Up Close: What Are You Looking At?

A stunning look at starfish reveal beautiful patterns--but what exactly are those wormy structures, bald patches, and spiky maces?

Small red boring sponges embedded in star coral, killing the coral polyps immediately surrounding them.

Drill, Baby, Drill: Sponges Bore Into Shells Twice as Fast in Acidic Seawater

In acidic water, drilling sponges damage scallops twice as quickly, worsening the effects of ocean acidification


The Ten Best Ocean Stories of 2012

From deep-sea squid habits to vanishing coral reefs, here are the ocean stories we couldn’t stop talking about this year.

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