A travel poster for the Bahamas features the clear azure water of the coral reef, where a diver encounters an electric blue and yellow angelfish. A Maine vacation brochure depicts gleeful children gathering mussels among the boulders, as powerful waves crash upon the rocky shore. These distinctive scenes describe two very different marine ecosystems: the coral reef of the Caribbean and the rocky coast of Maine.

The striking contrasts between these two dynamic ecosystems are the theme of this website and are among the many topics visitors can ponder in Exploring Marine Ecosystems, a permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The activities that follow encourage students to consider the role of temperature, sunlight, waves, and tides in the creation of unique marine environments.

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Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies