Adaptations

Japanese scientists videotaped this female giant squid, alive, at the water's surface

Giant Squid

Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long, and may have weighed nearly a ton. You’d think such a huge...
A rendering of an underwater marine scene depicting life ~145-65 million years ago, when rudist clams were the major reef builders.

Long Before Coral, Mollusks Built the Ocean's Reefs

Rudist clams were major reef builders during the heyday of dinosaurs. Credit: Smithsonian Institution About 100 million years ago , during the heyday of the dinosaurs, reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams...
This new species of lobster (Dinochelus ausubeli) is blind and has bizarre claws. It was discovered about 300 meters (984 feet) deep in the Philippine Sea by a Census of Marine Life expedition.

Deep Ocean Diversity Slideshow

Deep sea animals have to live in a very cold, dark, and high-pressure environment where they can't see a thing! To survive there, they've evolved some very strange adapations. Some make their own light,...
This aptly named fish has two long fangs.

Creepy Critters: Marine Life Surfaces for Halloween

Claws, spines, spikes, tentacles, and fangs. Aliens, monsters, and ghostly apparitions glowing in the night. Marine life forms have some of the best looks for Halloween—no costumes needed. From freaky fish lurking beneath the...
A team of scientists explore the Arctic ocean.

Under Arctic Ice

Hidden beneath Arctic ice is a world few have ever seen. Take the icy plunge with a team of ice-loving scientists.
Arctic cod have a special protein that warms their blood.

Arctic Lesson Plans from NOAA

Explore the Arctic in the "Under Arctic Ice" photo essay, co-developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This...
Photograph of the underside of a gelatinous octopus with a bright yellow bioluminescent ring around her mouth.

Bioluminescent Animals Photo Gallery

Bioluminescence is one of the more captivating adaptations that have evolved in marine animals. It's the ability of organisms to create and emit light. Dive underwater and you may witness lightshows of red, green,...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

The Sant Ocean Hall: Life at the Poles Exhibit

Human activity is increasing in the Arctic marine environment due to climate change. To help the most vulnerable areas, the Global Marine Program of IUCN, along with partners, is convening a series of workshops...
A squat lobster and blackbelly rosefish find shelter on a Lophelia pertusa coral reef off the southeastern United States.

Deep-sea Corals

It may be the last place you’d expect to find corals—up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where the water is icy cold and the light dim or absent. Yet believe...
Tiny "flakes" of marine snow.

Marine Snow: A Staple of the Deep

Snow on land can make some people grumpy, but the magical-looking flakes and a beautiful layer on the trees can turn even disenchanted adults into gleeful children again. But what is the ocean equivalent...

Ribbon Worm Redux

The ribbon worm seen here, Ramphogordius sanguineus , is known to regenerate after losing a part of its body. Credit: Eduardo Zattara Even on an early winter morning, it was sunny and warm in...
A photo of a squid using bioluminescence to hide in the deep sea.

Bioluminescence

You may have seen the sparkle of fireflies on a summer’s night. The fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction in their glowing abdomens, a process known as bioluminescence. But did you know that...
A reddish-orange nudibranch.

A Collage of Nudibranch Colors

Nudibranchs are a kind of sea slug, and their 3000 species are found from the poles to the tropics in both shallow and deep water. Though they often only reach two centimeters in length,...
A Greenland shark photographed in the St. Lawrence Estuary, near Baie-Comeau, Quebec

Greenland Shark: One Species at a Time

Scientists know the Greenland shark ( Somniosus microcephalus ) moves slowly in the Arctic's cold water. They also know that parasites attack the shark's eyes. But much about this animal remains a mystery. Marine...
Small red hyperiid.

The Hyper Eyes of Hyperiids: How Some Shrimp-Like Creatures See Light in the Deep Sea

Hyperiid amphipods are small crustaceans related to sand fleas and distantly related to shrimp. They range in size from very tiny to more than 7 inches long, and are found at all depths of...
Mangrove roots provide an underwater habitat for many marine species.

Mangroves: Photos of Plants and Animals

Mangrove is the name for a tree—and also for a complex ecosystem—that bridges land and sea. There are around 70 species of mangrove trees (meaning trees that can grow in salty water and soils),...

Spirals in Time: A Walk at the Seashore

When I set out to write a book about mollusks (called Spirals in Time ), I wasn't quite prepared for just how many animals I would get to know. There are somewhere between 100,000...