Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE California
Follow this link to skip to the main content

COSEE California has been a leader in the Ocean Literacy Campaign since 2002. This Campaign is a wide-ranging, collaborative, and de-centralized effort by scientists and educators to build a more ocean literate society. An important component of the Campaign is the education of K-12 students in ocean sciences. Materials and resources are available on the Ocean Literacy website. Visit the website to join the Campaign and become part of the community.

What is Ocean Literacy?
Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you—and your influence on the ocean. An ocean-literate person:

  • understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts
  • can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way; and
  • is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.

Ocean Literacy Principles
There are seven essential Ocean Literacy principles that are supported by 44 fundamental concepts.

  • Ocean Literacy Principle #1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #2: The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #3: The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #4: The ocean makes the Earth habitable.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #6: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
  • Ocean Literacy Principle #7: The ocean is largely unexplored.

These principles and concepts are published in The Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences K-12.

  • Download a pdf of the Ocean Literacy Principles.
  • Request copies of the published brochure from NOAA Outreach Unit. The brochure is free to educators. Write to Jeannine Montgomery.

A Community Effort
The work of the Campaign has been a community effort from the beginning.

  • The definition of ocean literacy and identifying the Ocean Literacy Principles have been developed through a community-wide, consensus-building process.
  • They build on previous efforts to define ocean literacy, assess what the public knows about the ocean, and redress the lack of ocean-related content in state and national science education standards, instructional materials and assessments.
  • The efforts in the Campaign have been, and continue to be, supported by many organizations and the dedicated individuals within them.