An anemonefish finds refuge in the tentacles of a closed-up reef anemone.
Finding shelter. An anemonefish finds refuge in the coral reef. © Michael Gallagher

Membership & Giving

Incredible ocean photos so you can see what your support protects.

Some of our favorite pictures that remind us how important oceans are and why we must do more.

The majestic world under the sea has captivated the minds of many for centuries. Whether it’s the unique wildlife found beneath the waves or the sheer expanse of the open seas, the ocean is one of the most interesting and sought out places to explore. In addition to providing us with beauty, it also serves as our lifeline, full of resources we all rely on. The ocean is essential to our lives because it supplies 50% of the oxygen we breathe and is home to fish and other species that provide food and income for more than 3 billion people.

Increasing threats to ocean health—including habitat loss and overfishing—are exacerbated by climate change. That’s why The Nature Conservancy is working to protect 10 percent of the world’s ocean area by 2030. This stunning collection of ocean photos provides a glimpse at the wonders beneath the waves and shows what your support is helping to protect. 

Close Encounters 

The reefs that cover less than 1% of the world’s surface area support 25% of all marine life. There are thousands of unique species to be found in these ecosystems and we’ve only just begun to discover and understand the relationships they have with one another and with their marine networks. We must continue to protect these vibrant habitats to preserve biodiversity and encourage healthy environments for both people and nature.

The threats of climate change are increasing, so we’re studying super reefs to find out why some are more resistant and resilient to damaging heatwaves. Researchers are identifying where super reefs are located and which ones are best at spreading baby corals to other reefs. These efforts are vital for protecting the world’s reefs before they are lost.

Making Moves 

Climate change has threatened migration for the many species that navigate thousands of miles underwater. In Mexico, we’ve helped ensure the conservation of more than 34 million acres of marine areas. This protected habitat serves as a migratory route for dozens of species of sharks, rays, tuna, sea turtles and dolphins, vital breeding grounds for humpback whales and more than 400 fish species. The Nature Conservancy and partners are improving migration for threatened species like the hawksbill turtle by using technology to determine where habitat conservation is most needed. 

A Community Below

For the first time ever, Caribbean countries and territories now have a clear picture of the habitats found beneath the waves. The Nature Conservancy has created detailed maps of coral reefs and other essential ecosystems throughout the entire Caribbean basin. This is an important stride in conservation, as these high-resolution maps significantly enhance our knowledge of the ocean to help us better protect coral reefs and other oases of marine life that sustain threatened species. These revolutionary maps can transform the way resources are protected and managed for island nations in which 60 percent of living coral has been lost in the past few decades alone. This is vital for supporting endangered species—because we can now see which reef habitats are most threatened and in need of urgent help.

Where the Land Meets the Sea

To protect our coast and the value it provides to nature and people, we need innovative conservation and policy guided by science. In North America, The Nature Conservancy has incorporated strategies like the rebuilding of coastal reefs and other natural structures to help protect against sea level rise. On the edges of the ocean, coastal wetlands—such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows—protect our shores, too. They also draw in carbon as they grow and transfer it into their leaves, stems and the rich soils held by their roots. 

In This Together

All over the world, people depend on the ocean’s vast supply of fish as a source of food, recreation and income. But threats like ocean acidification caused by climate change and overfishing are impacting many aquatic species. Today, nearly half of the world’s population—3 billion people—depend on fish as a source of protein. However, around 85 percent of commercially harvested fishery stocks are at their breaking point. This means we must continue working together to restore habitat and make conservation of marine life a priority. Together, we can help protect and sustain ocean life and coastal communities for a bountiful future. 

Image of waves meeting the shoreline as the colorful sun sets in the background.
Not our final sunset. A breathtaking sunset on the Oregon coast. © Sarah Alvarez

Now more than ever, the choices we make affect the world we leave for tomorrow. We must continue the hard work needed to combat these threats and protect our most cherished places. In the next decade, The Nature Conservancy is working to protect people and nature by conserving 650 million hectares of healthy land, 30 million hectares of freshwater, and 4 billion hectares of oceans. Through protected areas, sustainable fishing, forest management, and working with Indigenous peoples, it is possible to shape a better future for people and the planet.