The Ocean

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Map artwork Hiram Henriquez

Safe From Harm?


Across the globe, some 5,000 marine protected areas (MPAs) have been created. These preserves were established to safeguard the areas' wildlife and habitats—but results are mixed. Some MPAs are closed to all activities, but many are open for recreational use and others still allow commercial and sport fishing. Currently, less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are closed to fishing.

More About Marine Protected Areas

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    Pristine Seas Expeditions

    Pristine Seas is an exploration, research, and conservation project that aims to find, survey, and help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean.

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    Protect Planet Ocean

    The mission of Protect Planet Ocean is to inspire and inform better protection of our ocean, through the establishment of a global, representative network of successfully managed MPAs.

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    California MPA Educational Resources

    Find education and outreach resources that communicate the purpose, benefits, and science behind the California Central Coast network of MPAs.

Ocean Topics

Your Ocean

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    For Kids

    Learn about the ocean with activities, photos, and games.

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    Ocean Education

    Bring engaging and important ocean learning to your classroom.

Support the Ocean

Explore the Ocean

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    Ocean Life

    Order ocean books, DVDs, maps, and more from the National Geographic online store.

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    Ocean Special Issue

    Explore the world's oceans, from their prehistoric beginnings to modern-day efforts to preserve their natural wonder.

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    Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas

    Immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep through colorful maps, photos, and satellite images.

Engage, Conserve, Restore

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    Freshwater Initiative

    The National Geographic Society’s freshwater initiative is a multi-year global effort to inspire and empower individuals and communities to conserve freshwater and preserve the extraordinary diversity of life that rivers, lakes, and wetlands sustain.