NOAA Launches New Online Library for Ocean-Related Media

The NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) has announced a new online library featuring thousands of ocean-related photos and videos, including images from all 14 marine protected areas managed by the NOAA. It’s available at

The front page does have a variety of photo galleries available, including those of sea lions, fish, and ocean sunsets, but I think you’ll be giving the keyword search on the left side of the page a workout. You can browse by category (birds, fish, culture/people, scenic, etc.) or you can search by keyword. You can specify if you’re looking for Web images, print images, or video. (Everything I looked at was considered public domain for all uses.)

I decided to browse first and went and looked at the Scenic category. I was treated to 110 images of sunsets, reefs, beaches, and aerial photography. Clicking on a thumbnail in the search results brought additional information about the photograph including who took the picture, when, print and digital dimensions, and so on. There’s a download link, but before you can download a picture you have to agree to the User Agreement. Since all the user agreements I saw were along the lines of “this image is in the public domain and you can use it for anything,” I did not find this a hardship.

Doing a keyword search for atoll found over 230 results, with pictures ranging from underwater photographs to pictures of beaches to birds to a marine archaeologist drawing a map.

Searching for videos was not as useful as I hoped; searching for beach and limiting my search to just video found about fourteen results, but the thumbnails were small and very gray. I could preview the clips, but none of the ones I looked at had clip lengths so I didn’t know what I would be downloading should I choose to download. I liked the photographs much better.

The quality of the images is amazing, even if I wasn’t so taken by the videos. Three cheers to the NOAA for putting this together — what an outstanding job.

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