Algae

Close-up photograph of translucent coral polyps, showing the symbiotic algae living inside.

Zooxanthellae and Coral Bleaching

Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many animals, including some corals , anemones, and jellyfish , sponges, flatworms, mollusks and foraminifera . These microscopic algae capture sunlight and convert it...
Boat Propeller Fouled With Barnacles

No Fouling Around

Home is where the hull is: Since the dawn of seafaring, humankind has had to deal with pesky creatures, such as barnacles, that “foul” ship hulls and boat propellers like this one. Credit: Flickr...

Sea Lion Sickness

Both humans and sea lions get sick from eating fish and shellfish that have been feeding on harmful toxic algae. Studying the sick sea lions brings scientists closer to understanding and preventing harmful and...
An algal bloom, also known as a red tide, has converted the ocean's surf to a red color

Scientists Work to Predict and Prevent Algae Blooms

Harmful algal blooms are dangerous, producing toxins that can kill marine organisms, taint shellfish, cause skin irritations, and even foul the air Credit: Flickr User AJC1 Algae, like all organisms, normally grow in balance...
Elysia chlorotica, the photosynthesizing sea slug.

Sea Slugs: One Species at a Time

Come one, come all! See the amazing, the astonishing, half-animal, half-plant! Journey to Tampa Bay, Florida, where scientist Skip Pierce and one of his students first made a remarkable discovery twenty years ago. Meet...
A large ship flushes water from its ballast tanks while at sea

5 Invasive Species You Should Know

A ship flushes and refills its ballast task in mid-ocean to prevent marine organisms from moving from one port to another. Credit: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Regardless of what continent you live on, the...

Sea Grapes: A Google Earth Tour

“Sea grapes” may sound like something Poseidon would snack on, and not a killer algae. Yet Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea poses a serious threat to marine life. Spread by the bilge water of boats...

Seagrass and Seagrass Beds

Seagrasses are found in shallow salty and brackish waters in many parts of the world, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle. Seagrasses are so-named because most species have long green, grass-like leaves. They...
Nuclear bomb in Bikini Atoll

Naturally Resilient

Coral Reefs Can Recover From Disasters. How Can We Save Them From Us? by Michael Webster, Coral Reef Alliance In 1946, the US military tested nuclear bombs on a coral reef in the Pacific,...

Helpful Herbivores

Convict surgeonfish are the roaming sheep of the reef but, instead of noshing on grass, they feed on algae. Credit: Michael Webster When snorkeling in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) in West...

Coralline Algae: The Unsung Architects of Coral Reefs

Many species of pink coralline algae, which cements coral reefs together, cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Credit: Maggie D. Johnson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Stare at a tide pool and...
Fossil Whale Digsite at Cerro Ballena, Chile

The Whale Graveyard Whodunit

Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists study several fossil whale skeletons at Cerro Ballena, next to the Pan-American Highway in Atacama Region, Chile, in 2011. Credit: Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution One of the ocean's tiniest...
A manatee swims in Crystal River, Florida.

From Mermaids to Manatees: the Myth and the Reality

Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) swimming within a fresh water spring on Crystal River in Florida. Note the tree roots on the right of the frame which make up a portion of this unique...
School of blue rockfish in a kelp bed.

Stinkin' Seaweed Makes Tasty Food for Coastal Animals

School of Blue Rockfish ( Sebastes mystinus ) in a kelp bed consisting mostly of the bull kelp ( Nereocystis luetkeana ). Credit: Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS Most people try to avoid rotting...

Bugs and Slugs: The Hidden Secret to Healthy Seagrasses

Neptune grass ( Posidonia oceanica ) is a slow-growing and long-lived seagrass native to the Mediterranean. Credit: Gaynor Rosier/Marine Photobank Slip into the water along a sheltered coast in nearly any part of the...

Seaside Lichens

Horizontal bands of color represent different species of lichen that have adapted to the conditions at different heights above sea level. Credit: Stephen Sharnoff Very few plant species can survive close to the ocean,...
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With Every Breath You Take, Thank the Ocean

Kelps are large, brown algae that grow along coasts around the world, especially in cooler regions. Credit: George Cathcart By Kalila Morsink When was the last time you thought about your breathing? Take a...

Seagrasses and Light in the Chesapeake Bay

Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic algae (phytoplankton) to grow rapidly...