Ecosystems

"Since we're terrestrial animals, we often think of the ocean as homogenous. But in fact there is a rich variety of complex and different ecosystems within the ocean." 
- Dr. Melanie L. J. Stiassny, Curator of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

The resources below explore what lives in different parts of the ocean, from coral reefs to deep sea vents.


Dive Into Worlds Within the Sea

Dive Into Worlds Within the Sea

Which squirmy little creatures does the spiny lobster eat? Can you spot the weird greenish glow on the belly of the cookie-cutter shark? Show off your good thinking with a game of good linking.

Work the System!

Work the System!

Did you know that forests with leaves above the water can grow in the ocean? Grab the magical magnifying glass, and see how many different plants and animals you can find in this virtual mangrove swamp. 

Create a Coral Reef

Create a Coral Reef

Did you know that, at their core, coral reefs are the skeletons of thousands of dead coral? Make your own coral reef diorama—with pasta, Play-Doh™, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, and hair curlers.

Cindy Lee Van Dover

Article

Cindy Lee Van Dover

For oceanographers, the work they do at sea is just the beginning. Learn more about the discoveries made by one scientist who completed more than 100 dives to the sea floor.

A Day at the (Barrier) Beach: My Expedition to Sandy Hook

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

A Day at the (Barrier) Beach: My Expedition to Sandy Hook

Which has more oxygen: ocean water that has been aerated by turbulence, or bay water that has been fed by oxygen-producing plants? This ninth-grader from New Jersey learns that getting the answer is not all that easy!

How Do Humans and Plants Interact in Tidal Wetlands?

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

How Do Humans and Plants Interact in Tidal Wetlands?

How is cordgrass able to survive the high salinity of a marsh when other plants can't? An amazing adaptation that lets it secrete excess salt, as this ninth-grader from Virginia discovered.

Tide Pools and the Life Within Them

Young Naturalist Awards Essay

Tide Pools and the Life Within Them

Wade through the tide pools of Doheny State Beach with this seventh-grader from California, and discover the many animals that thrive in this ever-changing world of sand and surf.

Antarctic Adaptations

Article

Antarctic Adaptations

Unlike human visitors, Antarctica's plants and animals don't require high-tech gear. How have these organisms adapted to thrive—not just survive—in such an extreme environment?