Corals

A "reef hotel" made of PVS layers on the seafloor.

Worth the Investment: Ocean Real Estate Reveals Hidden Diversity

Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian's Sant Chair for Marine Science, puts out an Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure (ARMS) during a dive in the Red Sea. Credit: Michael Berumen Good real estate is hard to find. This...
Happy World Ocean Day!

Coral Letters: A Message from the Corals of Curacao

If you look closely, you can read a message in the corals. We are not being metaphorical. Barry and Aimee Brown set out to search for hidden letters among brain coral colonies two years...

What Makes Sponges Grow?

Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through their bodies. They are very common on Caribbean coral reefs, and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is great...

Slow Life: Time-Lapse on the Coral Reef

How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run...
Coral Spawning by Moonlight

A Tale of Sex and Stress in the Ocean

A coral has just spawned. Each of the hundreds of polyps releases a small pink bundle of sperm and eggs. Credit: Raphael Williams Welcome to Citizens of the Sea , a new blog series...
An underwater photo of coral recovering from a bleaching event.

A Pleasant Surprise: The Recovery of Bleached Panamanian Corals

These corals are still in recovery after a mass bleaching in Panama, in the summer of 2010. You can see some bleaching on the tops, but the sides are looking good. Credit: Amanda Feuerstein...
A screenshot of some of Smithsonian's marine story windows in Google Earth

What Lives in the Gulf of Mexico? Exploring Marine Collections on Google Earth

When he was 10 years old, Stephen Cairns lived in Cuba where he kept a collection of butterflies and sea shells. When his family moved to Louisiana, he could bring only one of the...
A zoomed-in image of the crown-of-thorns sea star.

A Plague of Sea Stars

Scientists have been studying why populations of crown-of-thorns sea stars ( Acanthaster planci ) have mushroomed in recent decades. Coral reefs can suffer when the sea star's numbers explode; the echinoderm has a healthy...