What Does the Ocean Smell Like?

The distinctive smell of the ocean can be described as fishy, tangy, and slightly sulfury smell with a briny finish. There are several factors that contribute to the smell of the ocean and these include dimethyl sulfide or DMS, dictyopterenes, and bromophenols.

In most beaches around the world, the most common component of sea smell is attributed to DMS. The smell of DMS is described as sulfury with notes of creamed corn and clammy boiled cabbage. The DMS in the ocean comes from bacteria that eat dying phytoplankton. Dictyoperenes on the other hand, is the smell given off by the sex pheromones of sea weed. The combined briny smell of sea animals comes primarily from a compound called bromophenol. This compound has a harsh chemical smell that is similar to iodine.