We compare selected marine electromagnetic methods for sensitivity to the presence of relatively thin resistive targets (e.g., hydrocarbons, gas hydrates, fresh groundwater, etc.). The study includes the conventional controlled-source electromagnetic method, the recently introduced transient electromagnetic prospecting with vertical electric lines method, and the novel marine circular electric dipole method, which is still in the stage of theoretical development. The comparison is based on general physical considerations, analytical (mainly asymptotic) analysis, and rigorous one-dimensional and multidimensional forward modelling. It is shown that transient electromagnetic prospecting with vertical electric lines and marine circular electric dipole methods represent an alternative to the conventional controlled-source electromagnetic method at shallow sea, where the latter becomes less efficient due to the air-wave phenomenon. Since both former methods are essentially short-offset time-domain techniques, they exhibit a much better lateral resolution than the controlled-source electromagnetic method in both shallow sea and deep sea. The greatest shortcoming of the transient electromagnetic prospecting with vertical electric lines and marine circular electric dipole methods comes from the difficulties in accurately assembling the transmitter antenna within the marine environment. This makes these methods significantly less practical than the controlled-source electromagnetic method. Consequently, the controlled-source electromagnetic method remains the leading marine electromagnetic technique in the exploration of large resistive targets in deep sea. However, exploring laterally small targets in deep sea and both small and large targets in shallow sea might require the use of the less practical transient electromagnetic prospecting with vertical electric lines and/or marine circular electric dipole method as a desirable alternative to the controlled-source electromagnetic method.