Ocean Exploration: Learning Runs Deep

Covering approximately 70% of Earth’s surface, the ocean is the dominant feature on our planet. Yet, what lies at depth, well beneath the ocean’s glimmering surface, remains largely a mystery. Less than a quarter of our seafloor has been mapped in detail using modern technology and even less than that has been visually surveyed. We depend on a healthy ocean for air, food, minerals, medicines, climate regulation, and more – yet there is still so much we don’t know about ocean waters, the seafloor, and the resources they hold.

To take a deeper dive into what we DO know about the ocean, NOAA Ocean Exploration partnered with the monthly science education magazine OYLA to share some of the ocean’s secrets. Browse through the multimedia-rich features below to learn more about ocean exploration, meet some of the interesting animals that call the deep ocean home, take a look at technology used to study the deep, unravel the mysteries of ocean data, uncover maritime heritage findings, discover ocean exploration career opportunities, and delve into seafloor mapping.

So what DO we know?

Our Blue Frontier: Exploring Our Ocean World

In this feature, you'll learn how the ocean has evolved to become a defining and life-giving feature of our planet and why, despite its significance to all life on Earth, it remains largely unexplored. You'll also learn about the exploration tools and technologies that scientists are using to close the gap in our understanding of the ocean.

Seafloor Mapping

Mapping the seafloor is the first step in exploring the unknown depths of our global ocean. Read this feature to learn about the evolution of seafloor mapping, how we map the seafloor today, and what the future of mapping holds.

Ocean Exploration Technology: How Robots are Uncovering the Mysteries of the Deep

The challenges of exploring the deep ocean range from intense pressures and extreme cold temperatures to total darkness and corrosive saltwater. This feature highlights how technologies like remotely operated vehicles have been developed with special capabilities that allow us to overcome these challenges to explore the depths of the ocean.

Collecting and Visualizing Deep-Sea Data

Data visualization is an incredibly helpful tool for breaking down and communicating complex information. It helps preserve our knowledge about the ocean for future generations and maximize its immediate value to the nation. Review this feature to learn about the different kinds of data often collected while exploring our ocean and how the collection and sharing of these deep-ocean data are integral to preserving our knowledge about the ocean for future generations and maximizing its immediate value to the nation.

Maritime Archaeology

Maritime archaeology studies past human interaction with the ocean by examining material culture and other remains—and it has a big story to tell. In this feature, you'll learn about modern maritime archaeology tools and technologies and how they are being used to study topics such as paleolandscapes and shipwrecks. You'll also learn why it is important to properly study these historic sites, now and in the future.

Wild and Bizarre: Marine Life

From darkness, frigid temperatures, crushing pressures, and limited food, animals that live in the deep ocean have a lot to contend with and as such, have developed special adaptations that allow them to live in an environment that would be far too hostile for humans to survive. Read this feature to meet some of the wild and bizarre marine life found in the deep ocean.

A Sea of Opportunities: See Yourself as an Ocean Explorer

While it can be easy to assume that ocean exploration is only conducted by scientists or divers, the reality is that anyone can be an explorer, and it takes all sorts of interests and expertise to accomplish mission goals. Check out this feature to learn about the many diverse career paths to choose from in ocean exploration and how each of these paths plays an integral part in increasing our understanding of the ocean.