Living organisms fill our ocean, estuaries, and coastal areas. These organisms take many forms from the tiniest single-cell plankton, to the largest mammal on Earth, the blue whale, and the largest colonial organism, the coral reef. Expanding our knowledge of the life cycle, habits, habitats, and inter-relationships of marine life is important to our understanding of the planet. Human interactions, influences, and reliance on these species as well as changing environmental conditions will determine the future health of these marine inhabitants. Toxic spills, oxygen depleted dead zones, marine debris, increasing ocean temperatures, overfishing, and shoreline development are daily threats to the existence of marine life. Part of NOAA's mission is to help protect these organisms and their habitats to ensure a sustainable balance of life.
The collections in this thematic area provide educational resources to increase the understanding of marine life, the pressures that threaten their existence, and the role each of us play in the stewardship of marine ecosystems.