Remarkable advances in our understanding of the biology and ecology of the world's oceans are leading to a newer, more integrative approach to investigations of those oceans. The approach, which we have called “ocean ecology” is blurring previous distinctions between marine ecology and biological oceanography. Researchers in those fields now collaborate and trade methods and scientific perspectives and, as a result, find themselves part of the intellectual underpinnings and histories of subdisciplines other than their own.
Collaboration comes none too soon. One of the greatest challenges facing ocean ecologists in the present and coming decades is understanding and resolving anthropogenic versus natural variability and change. The need is urgent to focus investigations on coastal ocean degradation and its acceleration and to deal effectively with environmental change wrought by humans.