UV radiation (UVR) is a significant ecological factor in the marine environment that can have important effects on planktonic organisms and dissolved organic matter (DOM). The penetration of UVR into the water column is likely to change in the near future due to interactions between global warming and ozone depletion. In this study we report underwater instruments employed for the measurement of UVR and we review data dealing with the depth of UVR penetration in different oceanic areas including the open ocean, Antarctic waters and coastal waters. We provide the 10% irradiance depth (Z10%) for UV-A and UV-B as well as for DNA damage effective dose (DNA), which we calculated from the values of diffuse attenuation coefficients or vertical profiles reported in the literature. We observe a clear distinction between open ocean (high Z10%, no variation in the ratio UV-B/UV-A), Antarctic waters (increase in the ratio UV-B/UV-A during ozone hole conditions) and coastal waters (low Z10%, no variation in the ratio W-B/UV-A). These variations in the penetration of WR could lead to differences in the relative importance of photobiologicaVphotochemical processes. We also compare in this study the penetration of UV-B (unweighted and weighted by the Setlow action spectrum) and DNA damage effective dose.