Ocean & coasts education resources

While there is only one global ocean, the vast body of water that covers 71 percent of Earth is geographically divided into distinct regions. The U.S. recognizes five named oceans: Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern.

The ocean and large inland lakes play an integral role in many of the Earth's systems including climate and weather. More than 50% of all species on Earth are found under the ocean and the ocean helps sustain human life above the water by providing 20 percent of the animal protein and five percent of the total protein in the human diet. In the US alone, there are over 95,000 miles of shoreline. More than half of the US population lives within 50 miles of the coast in the narrow area of land known as the "coastal zone."

This area of the education resources website provides links to NOAA resources that help explore the physical and chemical properties of the ocean and its adjacent ecosystems to advance ocean literacy. NOAA protects, preserves, manages and enhances the resources found in 3.5 million square miles of coastal and deep ocean waters. The agency provides products, services and information that promote safe navigation, support coastal communities, sustain marine ecosystems, and mitigate coastal hazards.

Source: National Ocean Service Ocean Facts
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Ocean floor features

Graphic depicting satellite captured, bathymetric data of the western Atlantic Ocean Basin and its ocean floor features.

Want to climb the tallest mountain on Earth? First you will need to climb into a deep ocean submersible and dive almost 4 miles under the surface of the Pacific Ocean to the sea floor. 


Most coastal areas experience two low tides and two high tides every lunar day, or 24 hours and 50 minutes.

Knowledge of the times, heights, and the flow of tides is of importance in a wide range of situations such as navigation through coastal waterways; construction of bridges, docks, breakwaters, and deep-water channels; and for fishing, boating, surfing, and water sports.