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The Ocean Blog

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...
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...
Adaptation is the key word if you are looking to survive in a tide pool, a space that some scientists describe as the most competitive real estate in the ocean. Tide pools are exposed to the water's...
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...
A sea star , Hymenaster pellucidus , brought up from a benthic ROV dive. View the “Under Arctic Ice” photo essay to learn more.
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...
Sea stars ( Odontaster validus ) and sea urchins ( Sterechinus neumayeri ) spread over an algae-covered seafloor off the coast of Antarctica. These two species are often found living in association...
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...
This sea potato ( Echinocardium cordatum ) looks similar to its root vegetable namesake, but it's a sea urchin! The spines on this urchin are more hair-like than the spikes seen on some more commonly...
A diversity of deep-sea corals—including primnoid coral ( Narella sp.), black coral ( Trissopathes pseudtristicha ), and feather stars ( Florometra serratissima )—flourish 2,669 m (8,757 ft) deep on...
What is this bizarre, spiky-looking organism? Hint: it can be found in tropical areas of the Pacific and Indian ocean basins crawling slowly over coral reefs and devouring any living coral polyps...
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...
The Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology has a collection of over 57,000 specimens from over 5,700 sites in the Gulf of Mexico, which are now catalogued on Google Earth . Below is a tiny...
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...
Fitting nine of anything on two fingers is impressive. These mollusks and echinoderms are a teeny-tiny sample of the ocean's biodiversity. The Census of Marine Life estimates that there are at least...
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 (...
A bright orange sea star ( Novodinia antillensis ) clings to a large white soft coral ( Paragorgia sp.). This photo was taken on the Manning Seamount at a depth of 1,350 meters (4,429 feet) by the...
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...
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