An Ocean of Color

Approximately 75 percent of the Earth is covered by the oceans. In fact, more than 99 percent of the world’s living space exists in the ocean’s murky depths. Our oceans are a living treasure of color and diversity with many organisms that call the ocean their home. Much can be learned by observing the workings of this ecosystem – scientists have barely scratched the surface.

Life in the Ocean

Since ancient times, man has attempted to explore the depths of the world's oceans. Many individuals have played important roles in furthering our understanding of the ocean floor, and of this amazing aquatic ecosystem. A diverse collection of organisms live throughout the ocean, from the shallow, brightly lit surface zones all the way down to the darkest and murkiest hollows of the ocean’s floor. Where an organism resides in the ocean depends upon the water temperature, the salinity of the water, and the depths.

View these additional resources on life in the ocean:

Scholastic.com – Contains an overview and timeline of ocean research efforts to date

Ocean Planet: Marine Life Facts – A fact sheet from NASA about ocean life

Census of Marine Life – A site devoted to documenting the global effort to assess ocean life and diversity. Great articles and picture resources

Ocean Life Institute: Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution – A great resource for articles citing current research into ocean life and marine habitats

Ocean For Life – A global initiative seeking to foster cultural understanding through the study of our oceans from around the world

Ocean World: Coral Reefs – Maintained by the JASON Project, this page is devoted to educating the public about our Coral Reefs, and the challenges facing them

Coral Reef Protection – A site from the Environmental Protection Agency devoted to protecting and maintaining coral reef habitats

Creatures of the Deep Sea – From Seasky.org, a page giving a thorough overview of the abundance of deep sea life lurking in the ocean’s depths

World Oceans – this is a Thinkquest web page chock-full of information about our world’s oceans

OceansNational Geographic brings us a thorough review of the oceans of the world

Under the Sea – Another Thinkquest page, this page is devoted the biodiversity of ocean life. Includes a fact page about sharks

Shark Facts from the Discovery Channel – A collection of trusted online resources about sharks.

Harmful Algal Blooms – NOAA’s National Ocean Service provides an overview of the dangers posed by algal blooms.

The Oceanic Preservation Society – Informational resources about the challenges facing ocean life and biodiversity

The Ocean Isn’t Just Blue

One of the characteristics that the ocean is famous for is its deep blue hue. There are many theories as to why oceans are various shades of ubiquitous blue. Scientists say it is because of light wave absorption and reflection. Sunlight is composed of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light. The water in the ocean absorbs more of the red-orange-yellow light spectrum, but scatters and reflects much of the blue light. This results in our only seeing mainly blue and blue-green as the color of the ocean. But, blue isn’t the only color to be seen in our world’s bodies of water. The Black Sea, for example, looks almost black because of its high concentration of hydrogen sulfide. And, the Red Sea gets its color from the red algae which inhabits its waters.

Learn more about the ocan's coloring through these resources:

All About Oceans and Seas – A page written for elementary school learners providing an excellent overview of how the ocean gets its color

Why Is the Ocean Blue? – An Everyday Mysteries page from the Library of Congress which provides resources and an explanation for the color of the oceans and seas of the world

Ocean Facts – A fact page from NOAA providing answers to frequently asked questions about the ocean

Colors From Bacteria – A Webexhibits.org page about the Red Sea and how it gets its famous red hue

OceanColor – A page from NASA with images, data, information and other resources regarding the collection and analysis of ocean color data

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