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Know your Ocean: Did you know?

Did you know?

Dive in and find answers to your deepest ocean questions. Why is the ocean blue? What causes ocean waves? How do I become and oceanographer?  Get the facts and increase your ocean knowledge.

Colorful Corals

Why are corals so colorful?

One of the most striking things about coral is its bright coloring. But many are a dull green or brown. So, what gives some corals their bright hues?

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Does the ocean produce oxygen?

It’s easy to think of the world’s forests as the planet’s “lungs.” Trees pump out oxygen—the same stuff we breathe in. But does all our breathable air come from just land?

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Blue Ocean

Why is the ocean blue?

One idea is that it reflects the sky. But if we sink below the surface, the blue color remains. Here, the water isn’t reflecting the sky. So why is the ocean blue?

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Surface waves forming in the Gulf of Mexico

What causes ocean waves?

A trip to the ocean means sun, wind, and waves. Surfers ride them. Children play in them. Swimmers dive beneath them. But what causes waves?

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Cup

Why is pressure different in the ocean?

As anyone who has tried diving to the bottom of a deep pool knows, all that water gets heavy—fast. Extreme pressure is one reason why the ocean floor is still largely unexplored.

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What’s the difference between climate and weather?

We often hear about the weather. We also hear about climate. The two terms are related. But they are not the same thing. What’s the difference?

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How is beach sand created?

Beaches can be white, black, green, red and even pink. What creates those different colors? Why is some sand soft and fine, but other types feel rough? Where does beach sand come from, anyway?

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Ocean Oxygen

How do I become an oceanographer?

Like all scientists, oceanographers are curious. Students who are curious about all things ocean might make great oceanographers. So how do you become one?

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variety of seashells

How are seashells made?

One of the most striking features of our beaches is seashells. Their whorls, curves, and shiny iridescent insides are the remains of animals. But where do they come from?

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bioluminescence

How does bioluminescence work?

Deep in the ocean there’s very little sunlight. But if you could swim down there, it would look a bit like the night sky. Why is this?

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Why do corals bleach?

Corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae. The algae gives corals their color and provides them with food. In return, corals provide the algae with a place to live.

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Are corals plants, animals, or rocks?

The base of a coral reef is coral, but what is coral? If you look at a piece of coral that washed up on shore, it’s solid and tough with rough edges and little pits.

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storm

How does the ocean affect storms?

Under the right conditions, some of those storms can grow into large tropical storms. Or even monstrous hurricanes.

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Glacier

How do glaciers affect sea level rise?

Sea levels have risen and fallen throughout geologic history due to a myriad of natural processes, most notably the forming and melting of glaciers.

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ocean salty

What makes the ocean salty?

The water flowing into the ocean comes from freshwater streams and rivers. These bodies of water do contain salt. It dissolves from rocks on land. That’s because rain is slightly acidic.

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How do corals form colonies?

If you stare at just one spot on a coral reef, your eyes could be seeing more than 1,000 animals per square foot. That’s because the thing that makes up most of these marine ecosystems are tiny living animals called coral polyps, which exist on the surface of reef formations.

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glacier

Is glacier ice actually rock?

In places where it gets cold and snowy in winter, many meters of snow can fall. In some the following winter, adding a new layer to what was already there. Over hundreds to thousands of years, this process creates big sheets of ice called glaciers.

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Deep blue iceberg off Greenland

Why is glacier ice blue?

When sunlight shines on a field of snow, it reflects a bright-even blinding-white. But if you get a good look at the leading edge of a glacier, you’ll find that the ice inside is a brilliant blue.

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land sinking

Sea level rises when land sinks

People around the world are worried about rising sea levels. Much of this increase comes from melting polar ice and ocean waters that expand as they warm. But along many coastlines, sea level rises much more than we might expect simply from changes in the ocean.

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