Why The Ocean Smells Like The Ocean

Geo Beats

by Geo Beats

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While most people are aware of what the ocean smells like, not many know what causes the scent.

Anyone who's been near an ocean has experienced the distinct scent that wafts through the air, but what exactly produces that smell?

According to microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe, no single entity within the ocean causes the scent, instead, it's a mixture of different aquatic happenings.

Three of the primary smell-producing molecules include dimethyl sulfide and bromophenols.

Dimethyl sulfide is produced predominately by bacteria feasting on dying phytoplankton, as well as coral reefs.

Food scientists have likened the smell of dimethyl sulfide to sulfur, boiled cabbage and creamed corn.

Dictyopterenes are a type of sex pheromone released by seaweed that not only contributes to the smell of the ocean, but also to how edible seaweed tastes.

And last but not least, bromophenols are what give wild seafood, such as fish, shrimp and oysters, their brininess.

In high concentrations though, bromophenols smell similar to iodine.

Seafood biologists believe it is caused by what the animals eat, such as algae and marine worms, and because of this, farm-raised seafood tastes differently to that caught in the wild.