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The Ocean Blog

Sea stars are important members of marine ecosystems, especially in the tropics. We may think of tropical coral reefs as being home mainly to fish and corals, but in fact these habitats are home to a...
This purple urchin Paleopneustes cristatus is seldom seen by itself, and can be found in groups of hundreds. Dr. Dave Pawson , a senior scientist at NMNH who studies deep-sea echinoderms, is testing...
This bright purple sea star is a new species found by the Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems , a project of the Census of Marine Life. This particular specimen was seen on the reefs of the French...
In 2010, scientists from NOAA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found dead and damaged deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico, potentially affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill . These...
Sea cucumbers might have a cucumber shape, but are definitely animal, not vegetable… or fruit. They belong to the Phylum Echinodermata , which also includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea stars and...
A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's...
A huge colony of brittlestars (likely Ophiacantha rosea ) covers the peak of a seamount in the deep ocean. What’s the attraction? Food! Their arms reach out for tiny food particles carried by the...
In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among birds...
Colorful corals and brittlestars inhabit the Manning Seamount in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New England. Here you can see golden-colored coral (Enallopsamia rostrata), pinkish-brown coral (...
Ochre seastars ( Pisaster ochraceus ) feed on invertebrates, such as coral and shellfish, like the mussels pictured here. The starfish forces open the shell with suction disks on the underside of its...
As it clings to a red sea fan, a feather star ( Cenometra bella ) gently waves its slender arms—filtering bits of food from the water. Also known as sea lilies, feather stars are related to sea stars...
Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been dying in large numbers—and not gracefully. As their tissues collapse, the starfish (also called sea stars) start to look...
It’s an honor to have something or someone named after you. Dr. David Pawson , Senior Research Scientist and Curator of Echinoderms at NMNH, has several genera and species, living and fossil, named...
A large white coral (Corallium sp.) grows on the Balanus Seamount, part of the New England Seamount chain. Hanging on to the coral are stalkless crinoids and orange brittlestars (Opiacantha sp.) To...
Thousands of seamounts—most of them undersea volcanoes—tower above the muddy seafloor. They provide something hard to come by in the deep ocean : a solid surface to cling to. This photo gallery shows...
A tiny larval (baby) starfish. The immature forms of invertebrates and other animals may be even more vulnerable to threats such as oil spills than adult forms.
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at...
"Harlequin shrimp normally live in pairs and their main diet is starfish... It takes a good eye and patience to find this beautiful shrimp, which looks like candy.” -- Nature's Best photographer,...
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