Marine Life

The Ocean Blog

Any floating object in the ocean tends to attract life; fishermen know this and deploy floating buoys to concentrate fish for harvesting. Plastic marine debris is no different and, at microscopic...
Reef sharks rarely get any love. These sharks, comprising several species, loiter around coral reefs, snacking on small fish, squids and crustaceans. And while their size is nothing to smirk at—5-10...
Whales swimming in the ocean are never really alone. Even if one swims by itself with no other whales for miles around, it still has company—the tiny microbes that live on its skin. For a long time,...
Last week, the United Nations’ World Heritage Convention went blue. Two of the largest and healthiest marine protected areas on our planet—the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati and...
Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to the world that they are unexciting, ordinary and quite frankly, boring. However, if ever a misnomer existed, this is it. More...
Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high numbers and put together can weigh even more than all the top predators in an estuary or bay ecosystem! They play an...
When we think "Africa," we think of the "Big Five"—lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos—that crisscross the African Savannah. Few would imagine that there could be more natural beauty on...
Imagine: You’re in a small submersible, and you gently settle on the soft muddy bottom at a depth of 12,000 feet. It’s absolutely dark. What will you see when the exterior lights are turned on? Will...
Diving can be a wild ride that evokes more than a little trepidation, especially in the Pacific Ocean's famously big, cold waves. Waves that are otherwise fun for my weekend surfing can turn a...
Have you ever seen a creature so unusual? This fish (22 cm long) is called a sea toad and studying them requires luck and the opportunity to descend into the deep waters where they live. Last week Dr...
My father once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who believe that the world is divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. Wherever you come down on this...
Oceanic birds are a rare treat to see because these birds are not casual visitors to our coastline—to see them you normally have to get on a boat. So late last spring I was amazed to find hundreds of...
Ever since fourth grade I’ve wanted to explore the creatures and landscapes of the deep ocean in a submersible. It took awhile, but I finally got my chance this summer as part of the Deep Reef...
In recent years, I have taken to watching flying fish along the Maine coast. Not the usual flying fish that skim over tropical seas, but fish dangling from the beaks of flying puffins. Puffins are...
How do we know where ocean animals swim day and night? Scientists are getting snapshots into the daily lives of whales , sharks , and even fish by tagging the animals to track their movements. You’ve...
Lately we’ve been fielding questions from Smithsonian visitors wondering how they can help with the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. If there is any good news coming out of this situation, it...
Starting this Sunday, August 1st, the fins will be circling on a television near you. Sunday kicks off The Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” an annual TV ritual that offers hours of programming about...
Reef biologists over a certain age are haunted by memories of what glorious places Caribbean reefs once were. In our youth we studied them for all sorts of reasons but scarcely thought about reef...
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