The Sea

Viewed from space, Earth is a blue planet. Indeed, since more than two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered with water, it might be more appropriate to call it "Ocean" rather than "Earth."

Throughout all history the oceans have either directly or indirectly influenced humans. Ocean waters influence our weather patterns, serve as a source of food and valuable minerals, provide a vast highway for commerce, afford opportunities for recreation, and stimulate our interest in scientific research.

Most life on Earth depends on the ocean. Unfortunately, many human activities impact the ocean in harmful ways. The depths of our planet's oceans may be considered Earth's last frontiers of exploration. Perhaps by learning more about the sea, we will gain a better understanding of the role we must play in protecting it.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources | Bibliography

Places To Go

All About Oceans and Seas
Why is the ocean salty? Why is it blue? What causes waves and tides? To find the answer to these questions and more, check out Enchanted Learning's "All About Oceans and Seas."
National Aquarium in Baltimore
Produced by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, this site provides information about exhibits, lessons, and outreach at the aquarium. Surfers of this site can learn about jellyfish, sea anemones, sharks, and much more.
Living Planet Aquarium
Visit the Living Aquarium in Sandy, Utah or make arrangements with this organization to come out and visit your school.
Ocean Worlds
The story of oceans is the story of life. Oceans define our home planet, covering the majority of Earth’s surface and driving the water cycle that dominates our land and atmosphere.
Ocean World
Oceans have the power to influence every system on Earth including long-term global atmospheric patterns (warming and cooling), daily weather conditions, and land resources. This site describes how these interactions work.
Sargasso Sea
This unusual stretch of water is not subject to much wind and so the waters are mostly calm and still. It gets its name from the huge amounts of seaweed that float on its surface. Because the sea is not constantly being churned by wind and waves which carry in nutrients, it lacks the resources necessary to support large predators. Because it is quiet and protected, the Sargasso Sea is famous as a nursery for many kinds of small sealife, especially eels and loggerhead sea turtles.

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People To See

Anny Bonny and Mary Read
Don’t forget about the women pirates! Meet Anny Bonny and Mary Read. They dressed as men, and few crew members ever knew that these fierce pirates were women.
The Cousteau Society
Learn more about the famous ocean advocate and explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Cousteau Society, founded in 1973, continues to carry out its mission of documenting humanity's interaction with natural ecosystems and rousing the consciousness of Earth's citizens.
Dr. Robert Ballard
Learn more about undersea explorer and archaeologist Robert Ballard--most famous for discovering the wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic.
The Fish Out of Time
Meet the people who discovered the coelacanth. This fish was thought to have been extinct since the Cretaceous Period. However, a coelacanth was caught in 1938 in the seas off the coast of South Africa. They have since been found to also live in the seas around Madagascar and Indonesia.
Polders and Dikes of the Netherlands
Get to know the people of the Netherlands. They spend a lot of time and resources holding back the sea. They have built dikes to hold back the water and then used canals and pumps to drain the land. Their famous windmills were used to pump water from behind the dikes. This reclaimed land that was once part of the ocean is called polder. About 30% of the Netherlands is polder.
Sylvia Earle
An interview with the undersea explorer.
What is the difference between an ocean and a sea?
Many oceanographers designate only 3 oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian. Other oceanographers designate that there are 5 oceans. Parts of the oceans that are shallower and partially enclosed are called seas. There are more than 50 seas; the Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea are both part of the Atlantic Ocean.
Why is the Ocean Blue?
Sunlight contains all the colors of the spectrum. However, water absorbs colors in different ways and filters out the colors in different ways. Blue light penetrates the most deeply into water, and everything below a certain depth in the ocean always appears blue. Some of this blue light is scattered back to the surface, and that is why oceans and seas appear blue from above the earth.
Get to know some pirates. They spent most of their time at sea. Were pirates admirable heroes who fought for noble causes or were they criminals who stole the cargoes of honest merchants or were they adventurers looking for excitement or were they explorers hoping to find freedom and a new place to start a life? Many pirates were all of these things. There were also pirates who were called privateers which meant that they were hired by kings and other powerful people to capture ships that belonged to enemies and make the ships part of the employer’s fleet.

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Things To Do

Dive and Discover
Join a virtual expedition to the eastern Pacific Ocean to look for new volcanic eruptions on the crest of the mid-ocean ridge. You can read the daily updates by the crew, watch a movie of a volcanic seafloor, and learn about topics from vent biology to the earth's anatomy in the "infomods."
Making Waves
A unique multi-media approach to learning that offers teachers and students an insider's view of current, relevant ocean science research efforts. It is intended to team teachers, scientists, and students in an attempt to deliver real-world science to middle school classrooms.
Explore the open seas, an interesting and little understood world full of bizarre and fascinating creatures. This site focuses on the Ocean's complex food chain and its many organisms that have adapted to extreme and unusual conditions in the world's oceans.

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Teacher Resources

Lawrence Hall of Sciences MARE Site
Lawrence Hall of Sciences' MARE Program (Marine Activites Resources and Education) is an excellent, highly developed curriculum on marine science for elementary students.

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  • Ballard, Robert D. Adventures in Ocean Exploration. National Geographic Society, 2001.
  • Broad, William J and Dimitry Schidlovsky. The Universe Below: Discovering the Secrets of the Deep Sea. Touchstone Books, 1998.
  • Cerullo, Ocean Detectives: Solving the Mysteries of the Sea (Ocean Explorer Series). Raintree/Steck-Vaughn, 1999.
  • Cole, Joanna and Bruce Degen. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor. Scholastic, 1994.
  • Delafosse, Claude and Jeunesse Gallimard, Pierre De Hugo. Under the Sea (First Discovery Book: Hidden World). Scholastic Trade, 1999.
  • Knight, Linsay and Dr. Frank H. Talbot. Under the Sea (Nature Company Discoveries). Time Life, 1995.
  • Kovacs, Deborah. Dive to the Deep Ocean: Voyages of Exploration and Discovery (Turnstone Ocean Explorer Book). Raintree/Steck Vaughn, 1999.
  • Kunzig, Robert. The Restless Sea: Exploring the World Beneath the Waves. W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.
  • Van Dover, Cindy Lee. Deep-Ocean Journeys: Discovering New Life at the Bottom of the Sea (Helix Book). Perseus Press, 1997.
  • White, Nancy and Ted Enik, Joanna Cole. The Magic School Bus Takes a Dive: A Book About Coral Reefs. Scholastic, 1998.
  • Wu, Norbert and Leighton R. Taylor. Creeps from the Deep: Life in the Deep Sea. Chronicle Books, 1997.