When you think of whirlpools, you may imagine a swirling maelstrom (the largest whirlpools) faced by Odysseus in "The Odyssey" or Captain Nemo in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." But what is the science behind these fascinating works of wonder? Whirlpools can be seen in the ocean as a swirl of rotating water around a certain point and can be caused by a number of reasons: the "meeting of opposite currents" that swirl around eachother, winds that cause the current on the surface to switch direction, and even physical characteristics of the water such as differences in temperature and salinity. Some of the largest whirlpools, called malestroms, are famous because of their size and longevity, including the Moskstraumen off the Norway coast or the Naruto Whirlpool near Japan. Of course, most whirlpools are quite small and can be hardly visible, but regardless, they can be quite fascinating to watch (from a safe distance of course)!