Life in the Oceans

The ocean is the Earth’s largest ecosystem. The organisms within it take almost as much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as all the world’s forests and grasslands combined and provide a key source of food through fisheries. Despite its importance, it is still poorly understood with over 90% of the open ocean in perpetual darkness and new species frequently discovered.


Named in Greek after their tendency to go wherever the currents take them, the teeming microscopic plankton form the foundation of the marine ecosystem.

Extreme environments

From the frozen polar seas, to naturally super-heated chemical ‘chimneys’, marine life has found a way to exist and to thrive.

The Twilight Zone

Below the sunlit surface waters lies a dimly lit region whose occupants control a vital link in the global carbon cycle.

Stirring stuff

Without the ocean's currents there would be no life in the sea.

Life on the sea floor

Under pressures equivalent to a hatchback balancing on a one pound coin a fantastic diversity of life has evolved.

Ecosystem modelling

The ocean's ecosystems perform services for mankind of a value no country could afford to emulate.


Projects and collaborations

The diversity of marine life and ecosystems are mirrored by the international networks of biologists, chemists and physicists who study it.

Research Groups

Click on the links below to find out more about the NOC science and technology groups involvement in Life in the Oceans research -


Information for…


The outputs of research generate new knowledge about the oceans. Transferring scientific knowledge to support business and industry is an important part of our NOC remit.



Our research is intended to tackle the big environmental issues facing the world. Research priorities will include the oceans' role in climate change, sea level change and the future of the Arctic Ocean.



The University of Southampton and the University of Liverpool both offer a range of highly regarded undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Ocean and Earth Science.



For any media or press enquiries to the National Oceanography Centre follow the more link below. Please note the centre's press office is staffed from 0830 to 1730, Monday to Friday.



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Delivery Partners

Delivery Partners helping to provide marine science national capability.


Marine Science Community

The creation of a wider association of Universities and research institutions to support wider engagement of the NOC with the marine science community is now underway.



The National Oceanographic Library is a national resource for the UK marine science community.


Principal scientists

All updated information for cruise participants can be found using the Marine Facilities Planning website: