Ocean Life:

The Coral Reef Economy

Coral reefs are one of Earth’s most productive ecosystems — both in terms of biology and cold, hard cash. Healthy coral reef ecosystems do everything from supporting millions of jobs to protecting lives and valuable coastal infrastructure, like hotels and roads, from storms and waves. In fact, each year coral reefs pump more than $3.4 billion into the U.S. economy And that’s a conservative estimate!


How do coral reefs benefit the economy?

Healthy coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation. Approximately half of all federally managed fisheries depend on coral reefs and related habitats for a portion of their life cycles. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs is over $100 million.


What is an estuary?

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater.


What is an invasive species?

Invasive species can harm both the natural resources in an ecosystem as well as threaten human use of these resources. An invasive species can be introduced to a new area via the ballast water of oceangoing ships, intentional and accidental releases of aquaculture species, aquarium specimens or bait, and other means.


What is a wetland?

There are many different kinds of wetlands and many ways to categorize them. NOAA classifies wetlands into five general types: marine (ocean), estuarine (estuary), riverine (river), lacustrine (lake), and palustrine (marsh). Common names for wetlands include marshes, estuaries, mangroves, mudflats, mires, ponds, fens, swamps, deltas, coral reefs, billabongs, lagoons, shallow seas, bogs, lakes, and floodplains, to name just a few!


Introduction - Ocean Exploration and Bioluminescence (Ocean Today)

Symone Johnson - Shark Researcher and Knauss Fellow, NOAA narrates the first Full Moon series introduction. The ocean covers two-thirds of our planet but we know more about Mars than the deep seas.


Light It Up Activity Demo (Ocean Today)

We take it for granted, but when you think about it, light is amazing. light allows us to see the world around us.


What is ocean etiquette? (Ocean Fact)

Wildlife viewing is a popular recreation activity, but it is important to know how to interact with ocean wildlife so that you can make the right decisions. Irresponsible human behavior can disturb animals, destroy important habitats, and even result in injury to animals and people.


Least Terns Find a New Home (News)

Volunteers from NOAA, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Audubon, and others transformed part of an old Navy dock into an unlikely nesting hotspot for the least tern. As of August 7, 2016, least terns have created seven nests (and hatched eleven chicks!) on the pier behind NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.


Horseshoe Crab Spawning - A Field Report (Ocean Today)

Hey it’s Kurt Mann from Ocean Today. Our crew just completed a three day shoot here on Delaware Bay documenting the amazing horseshoe crab.


Coral Spawning (Ocean Today)

Corals are a beautiful - and important - part of our ocean. But they can’t move around the ocean floor - so, how, exactly, do they find mates?


What are mesophotic coral ecosystems? (Ocean Fact)

Sonar, short for Sound Navigation and Ranging, is helpful for exploring and mapping the ocean because sound waves travel farther in the water than do radar and light waves.


Northern Elephant Seals (Ocean Today)

Northern Elephant Seals migrate thousands of miles to these beaches twice a year to breed, give birth, molt and rest.


Terrapin Release (Ocean Today)

These students are preparing to embark on a special journey. They are part of the National Aquarium's "Aquarium on Wheels" program.


Protecting Coral Reefs (Ocean Today)

Buck Island Reef National Monument lies one and a half miles north of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean.


Sylvia Earle TED Winner (Ocean Today)

Sylvia Earle - TED speech.


Weird Animals: Sea Cucumber (Ocean Today)

This is a Sea Cucumber, a really big one! They scavenge for tiny pieces of food on the ocean floor. There are thousands of different species.


Weird Animals: Painted Flutemouth Fish (Ocean Today)

This is a Painted Flutemouth fish, also known as a Trumpet Fish. It's usually 15 to 31 inches long, including that long snout.


Weird Animals: Giant Moray Eel (Ocean Today)

This scary fella is a Giant Moray Eel. It likes to hide among reefs and rocks. It can grow as long as 13 feet. Did you know it has a second set of jaws in its throat?


Weird Animals: Blackspotted Puffer Fish (Ocean Today)

This is a Blackspotted puffer fish. It can be found in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. I think we can all agree – that is one weird animal!


Weird Animals: Manta Ray (Ocean Today)

This is a Manta Ray. They are the largest ray in the ocean, and are actually closely related to sharks. Those flaps on its front are called cephalic lobes.


Ocean as a Lab: Fish Farms (Ocean Today)

Hi, I'm Dallas Alston, I work with aquaculture in Puerto Rico. Our main research is to determine the effects of aquaculture on the environment.


Ocean as a Lab: Population Surveys (Ocean Today)

My name is John Hildenbrand, and I study the acoustics of whales and dolphins.


Ocean as a Lab: Shark Finning (Ocean Today)

My name is Mahmood Shivji. I'm the Director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute, and I study shark biology and shark conservation.


Ocean as a Lab: Whale Tagging (Ocean Today)

Hi, I'm Pat Halpin, and I am an ecologist, and I study whales, and we have been tagging whales in Antarctica, to look at their behavior and their feeding patterns under the ice.


Ocean as a Lab: Line Islands Corals (Ocean Today)

My name is Stuart Sandin. I am a marine ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I do my research in the Line Islands.


Creatures of the Deep: Sea Spider (Ocean Today)

This creature was found 2300 feet deep in the ocean. It's a Sea spider, and ones living this at this depth can grow quite large, spanning almost 3 feet wide.


Creatures of the Deep: Chimaera (Ocean Today)

This creature was found 4,200 feet deep in the ocean. It’s called a Chimaera. This fish has no bones in its body; its skeleton is made of cartilage.


Creatures of the Deep: Basket Star (Ocean Today)

This creature was found 1800 feet deep in the ocean. It's called a Basket star. Basket stars are able to grow their limbs back if they are broken or chopped off by predators.


Creatures of the Deep: Angler Fish (Ocean Today)

This creature was found 1600 feet deep in the ocean. It's an Anglerfish, distinguished by the rod protruding from its head that it uses to attract prey.


Creatures of the Deep: Bathysaurus (Ocean Today)

This creature was found 6900 feet deep in the ocean. It's a Deepsea Lizardfish, also called a Bathysaurus Ferox. It is the world's deepest living superpredator; anything it meets, it eats.


Sea Otters, Kelp, and Humans (Ocean Today)

How do you spend a typical morning? For a sea otter it may mean a breakfast of nutritious clams.


Dune Grass Planting (Ocean Today)

Laura Bankey: Today we are at Dam Neck Annex, part of Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, restoring sand dune habitat along the Atlantic coast.


Adelie Penguins (Ocean Today)

From the feathers on their head to the claws on their feet, Adelie penguins are magnificently adapted for a life on land and in the sea.


Coral Restoration (Ocean Today)

These beautiful coral reefs are in serious trouble. They are being damaged or destroyed by pollution, disease, climate change, and a large number of ship groundings.


Gentle Giants: Goliath Grouper (Ocean Today)

Sometimes, while diving, you hear them before you see them. Then, their enormous outlines come into view. These gentle giants are goliath grouper, the largest of the groupers in the Atlantic basin.


Dolphin Anatomy (Ocean Today)

The Atlantic Spotted dolphin. They've been evolving for about 10 million years now.


Dolphins 101 (Ocean Today)

The Adventures of the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin. A pod of Atlantic Spotted dolphins is swimming in he warm Gulf Stream waters of Southern Florida.


Seal Anatomy (Ocean Today)

All pinnipeds have four flippers, a layer of blubber, and sensitive whiskers on their snouts. The Harbor seal has all of these and a lot more.


Seal 101 (Ocean Today)

Ahhh A nice sandy beach, easy access to deep waters, lots of warm sunshine, plenty of food nearby … the perfect home for the harbor seal.


Killer Whale Anatomy (Ocean Today)

Orcinis Orca. They're commonly known as the Killer whale because of their aggressive nature. But the Orca isn't actually a whale: it's in the dolphin family.


Bluefin Tuna (Ocean Today)

If fish were cars the bluefin tuna would be the Ferraris. That's how sleek their lines are…and how quickly they accelerate.


Killer Whales 101 (Ocean Today)

The Killer whale in, three of a kind. In oceans all over the world, Orcas are swimming. In the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest, a matrilinial pod of resident Orcas is following the salmon run.


Gray Whale Anatomy (Ocean Today)

The Gray whale is one of the oldest mammal species on the planet. It has been evolving and adapting for 30 million years.


Underwater Forests (Ocean Today)

Kelp forests can be seen along much of the west coast of North America. Kelp are actually large brown algae that live in cool, relatively shallow waters close to the shore.


Turtle and the Tree (Ocean Today)

Group of Loggerhead turtles established Keewaydin Island as a home.


Dance of the Dumbo Octopus (Ocean Today)

A video capturing a deep sea ortopod dumbo octopus, as it gracefully swims through the water, accompanied by classic music.


Manatee Anatomy (Ocean Today)

Every aquatic animal is adapted to its own particular lifestyle and habitat. Take the slow-swimming graceful manatee, for example.


Gray Whale 101 (Ocean Today)

The Gray whale in Baja Holiday! It's June! Time to plan the winter holiday… How about two – three months in Baja Mexico! Gray whales have been making this annual trip for centuries!


Sea Otter Anatomy (Ocean Today)

An endangered species, the adult sea otter is the smallest of the marine mammals. It's a member of the weasel family, and the only marine mammal that does not have blubber to keep it warm.


Marine Mammal Rescue (Ocean Today)

The Marine Animal Rescue Program was started in 1993 at the National Aquarium, and is responsible for responding to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings in Maryland.


Mission: Exploration (Ocean Today)

This is the Okeanos Explorer. Its name comes from the Greek word for ocean.


Whale Call (Ocean Today)

The North Atlantic right whale got its name from whalers. Because these whales travel slowly and spend a lot of time at the surface, they were easy targets.


Open Rivers, Abundant Fish (Ocean Today)

Many species of fish, including those that are important to the U.S. economy, migrate from the ocean to freshwater rivers and streams to spawn.


Dolphins at the Doctor (Ocean Today)

Dolphins have a lot in common with humans. They breathe air, give birth to live young, and they also live in social groups.


Sea Otters 101 (Ocean Today)

In a quiet cove of Monterey Bay in Northern California, a female raft of sea otters is hanging out in a kelp bed.


Too Many Lionfish! (#ScienceAtSea)

A large group of invasive lionfish near St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, filmed during a Caribbean coral reef mapping expedition in April, 2015. During the 2015 Caribbean mapping expedition, 135 lionfish were spotted during a total of 26 dives. Lionfish were spotted as deep as 768 feet.


Stingray Encounter (#ScienceAtSea)

A stingray filmed by Remotely Operated Vehicle near St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, during a Caribbean coral reef mapping expedition in April, 2015.


Whale Rescue (Ocean Today)

In the last 25 years, 92 large whales have been freed from life threatening entanglements in fishing gear. Such entanglements are threatening the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.


The Wandering Seal (Ocean Today)

Deep into the foggy abyss of the central Bering Sea, the Pribilof Islands were found, not by sight, but by sound.


The Deep Ocean (Ocean Today)

The deep ocean. A place so different, filled with strange life forms. But what’s down there? How much do we know about it?


News of the Day - Immortal Jellyfish (Ocean Today)

Scientists have discovered that a hydrozoan named Turritopsis nutricula is biologically immortal. But how is this possible? The key is in its life cycle.


Protecting Marine Life (Ocean Today)

You can just call it a galatheid crab or squat lobster. The creature feasts on wood that has sunk to the ocean floor.


Protecting Marine Life (Ocean Today)

Swim up North America's coast like a whale and you will see its vibrant and diverse life.


Discovering the Ocean's Secrets (Ocean Today)

Imagine going to work everyday in the ocean, to study the plants and animals that call it home. Scientists from Canada, Mexico, and the United States are benefitting from marine protected areas.


How to Feed a Giant Octopus (Ocean Today)

This is the food for Reuben’s last supper. This is called a red rock crab – cancer productus. It has a hard shell and very sharp claws.


Ocean Oases (Ocean Today)

The ocean floor just off the eastern United States is deeply carved with hidden canyons, teaming with exotic and breathtaking species of plants and animals.


All You Can Eat (Ocean Today)

Once limited to the Indo-Pacific region, lionfish have invaded the waters of The Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.


Watch Out For Spouts (Ocean Today)

When you're out boating, sailing, or even kayaking, you may be closer than you think to the largest animals on Earth. So, here's what you need to know to respect their space and keep them safe.


Whale Sense (Ocean Today)

Watching whales in their natural habitat can be a breathtaking experience. This activity has become increasingly popular, now drawing over 13 million people a year.


Know Your Ocean (Ocean Today)

Even though the ocean covers seventy percent of the Earth's surface, people tend to know more information about land than the sea.


The Autonomous Underwater Glider (#ScienceAtSea)

On March 28, 2015, NOAA Ship Nancy Foster deployed an autonomous glider off the eastern coast of St. Croix. Diving down to depths of 656 feet, the glider moved westward along the southern edge of the shelf break. On the fifth day, shallow waters slowed progress, and the glider remained off the southwest coast. The glider will continue logging data until its retrieval later this month.


Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration (#ScienceAtSea)

Remotely Operated Vehicles provides scientists with "eyeballs" beneath the water to see the health of the ecosystem.


Ocean Gliders (#ScienceAtSea)

An ocean glider is an autonomous underwater vehicle used to collect ocean data. Scientists are now experimenting with using gliders to locate populations of spawning fish. The glider shown in this video is outfitted with an acoustic receiver to “listen” for vocalizations—grunting sounds—made by some fish as they mass together to spawn in the U.S. Caribbean.


Mapping the Seafloor (#ScienceAtSea)

Creating a habitat ecosystem map of the seafloor is a tricky process. Learn how it works in this two-minute video.


Animals of the Ice: Beluga Whales (Ocean Today)

Take a look in the shallow coastal waters of the Arctic, and you might just spot a beluga whale.


Animals of the Ice: Emperor Penguin (Ocean Today)

Their waddle has made them famous. Emperor penguins may just be the cutest creature in the world's coldest climate: Antarctica.


Animals of the Ice: Antarctic Krill (Ocean Today)

Krill are small crustaceans found throughout the ocean. They play an important role in the aquatic food chain, particularly in the Southern Ocean.


Animals of the Ice: Polar Bear (Ocean Today)

The Arctic circle is home to the largest bear in the world: the polar bear. You may be surprised to learn that the polar bear is actually considered a marine mammal.


Animals of the Ice: Walruses (Ocean Today)

The Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas are home to a hefty fellow: the walrus. These beasts use sea ice for resting and giving birth.


North America's Marine Protected Areas (Ocean Today)

A number of very special places dot the coastline of North America. These places are part of a growing network of Marine Protected Areas - like parks on land - but in the ocean.


How do sea turtles hatch? (Ocean Fact)

Baby sea turtles hatch from their nest en masse and then rush to the sea all together to increase their chances of surviving waiting predators.


Ethical Angler (Ocean Today)

In the U.S., fishing is a national pastime. Nearly 12 million people call themselves saltwater anglers. And marine fishing is more than a hobby – this sport contributes $56 billion a year to the U.S. economy.


Endangered Ocean: North Atlantic Right Whales (Ocean Today)

Did you know that North Atlantic Right Whales don't have teeth? They are baleen whales, which means they have comb-like plates in their mouths that filter food from the water.


The Mesophotic Zone (Ocean Today)

You’re entering another dimension. A dimension of water, of darkness, of mystery. Next stop, The Mesophotic Zone.


Endangered Ocean: Smalltooth Sawfish (Ocean Today)

Sawfish are large shark-like rays that are found in tropical and subtropical seas, rivers, and creeks, and can grow to 15 feet.


Deep Ocean Creatures (Ocean Today)

Aloha and good morning, everyone. We’re looking at places that no one has looked before. And this is part of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.


Bioluminescence (Ocean Today)

Bioluminescence is a chemical process that allows living things to produce light.


Deep Ocean Corals (Ocean Today)

Hawaii is interesting, because it is the most remote island chain in the world, it has a somewhat low diversity of corals.


The Last Grand Challenge (Ocean Today)

Exploring the earth’s oceans is probably the last grand challenge we have on this planet.


Bioluminescent Ocean (Ocean Today)

Bioluminescence is a chemical process that allows living things to produce light.


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