The World Ocean is made up of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Antarctic and Arctic oceans and their seas, gulfs, straits and bays. It is home to a huge variety of species and ecosystems that are currently threatened by overfishing, oil and gas extraction, sand and gravel quarrying, tourism, industrial pollution and climate change.
We need to understand the ocean in order to better protect it, so our scientists carry out a range of research projects. These include monitoring the North Sea (using the Belgica research vessel for example), developing mathematical models (e.g. of sediment movement and to predict currents), conducting international oceanographic expeditions to Antarctica (the first of which was led by Adrien de Gerlache on board the original Belgica at the end of the 19th century), making an inventory of sponges on the southern coasts of South America, DNA barcoding marine nematodes, doing geological research on tsunamis and studying whale fossils.