NOAA’s National Ocean Service is positioning America’s coastal communities for the future

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About NOAA Ocean & Coasts

Our ocean and coasts affect us — and we affect them. Almost 40 percent of the country’s population lives in coastal shoreline counties. These counties contribute $9 trillion to the U.S. economy. Climate change, sea level rise, more intense storms, and population growth are all challenges for our coastal communities. The National Ocean Service helps decision makers find solutions. We are the nation’s leader in observing, measuring, assessing, protecting, and managing coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes areas.

More than 80% unexplored

Most of the ocean is unseen by human eyes — more than 80% of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved and unexplored.

Colossal coral reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living organism on Earth and can be seen from the moon.

99% of the Earth’s water

The ocean contains more than 96 percent of the Earth’s water.

95,000 miles of shoreline

The U.S. shoreline is more than 95,000 miles long.

57 tons of debris is equal to 11.4 elephants

Since 1996, NOAA has removed 904 tons of debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii including 57 tons from a 2014 mission.

There is only ONE global ocean.

While there is only one global ocean, the vast body of water that covers 71 percent of the Earth is geographically divided into distinct named regions. The boundaries between these regions have evolved over time for a variety of historical, cultural, geographical, and scientific reasons.

Life began here

Life began in the ocean over 3.5 billion years ago.