The seabed has been explored by submersibles such as Alvin and, to some extent, scuba divers with special equipment. The process that continually adds new material to the ocean floor is seafloor spreading and the continental slope. In recent years satellite images show a very clear mapping of the seabed, and are used extensively in the study and exploration of the ocean floor.
Seabed contains "several hundred years' worth of cobalt and nickel". In 2001-2013, International Seabed Authority issued 13 various licences to seabed mining. The International Seabed Authority which was established on the 16th of November 1994, has spent the last two and a half decades researching the resources that lie on the seafloor. The main mineral resource that is of economic interest are manganese rocks, also referred to as polymetallic nodules. These are medium sized rocks that lie unattached to the seafloor and have relatively high compositions of vital minerals used to produce batteries for goods like smartphones, computers and even electric vehicle batteries. Currently, the studied mineral composition of polymetallic nodules is estimated to be 29% manganese, .25% Cobalt, 1.4% Nickel, 1.3% Copper and other economically interesting minerals. A part of the ISA mandate is to ensure proper practice in regards to harvesting these resources and to create regulation in order to minimize environmental damage.
Some children's play songs include elements such as "There's a hole at the bottom of the sea", or "A sailor went to sea... but all that he could see was the bottom of the deep blue sea".
On and under the seabed are archaeological sites of historic interest, such as shipwrecks and sunken towns. This underwater cultural heritage is protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The convention aims at preventing looting and the destruction or loss of historic and cultural information by providing an international legal framework.