Mussels, Oysters & Relatives

Color illustration of an ancient bivalve.

Rudist Reefs

About 100 million years ago, during the heyday of the dinosaurs , reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams . They looked very different from today's coral reefs . Discover more about the...
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...
Boats docked in a Chesapeake Bay harbor

Rapa Whelks: Invaders of the Chesapeake Bay

Shellfish from the Chesapeake Bay are prized by seafood lovers. But the Bay's ecosystem and shellfish are threatened by human disturbances, including the introduction of non-native species. Credit: Mary Hollinger/NOAA During the summer of...
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...
Two baby olive ridley sea turtles.

Baby Sea Turtles in Jalisco, Mexico

These baby olive ridleys ( Lepidochelys olivacea ) will eventually provide a home to crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts. That's according to a survey of epibionts living on mature, nesting olive ridleys and green...
A white, elongated, and whorled wentletrap shell, seen from two angles.

Sanibel Island Shells: One Species at a Time

Ari Daniel Shapiro is joined for this episode of One Species at a Time by serious beachcombers along the high-tide line of Sanibel Island, Florida. These “shellers” come in search of beautiful sea shells,...

Marine Parasites: Crazy…and Really Cool!

The whitish spots on this fish are individual parasitic trematode worms. Credit: Hans Hillewaert Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high numbers and put together can...
A shell placed in seawater with increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is sometimes called “climate change’s equally evil twin,” and for good reason: it's a significant and harmful consequence of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we don't see or feel because...

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...
Duria Antiquior – A More Ancient Dorset, 1830

Unearthing History: Mary Anning's Hunt for Prehistoric Ocean Giants

Although in reality an ichthyosaur and plesiosaur would have likely never battled, this widely shared lithograph by artist, geologist and paleontologist Henry De la Beche even inspired author Jules Verne to pen a similar...
Sea otters floating on the surface of the ocean.

Not Just Another Fuzzy Face

A raft of sea otters grooming and resting after foraging. Credit: © Elise Newman Montanino Who hasn’t grinned at the sight of a sea otter floating on its back while grooming itself? No doubt...
Two nautiluses in the open ocean off the coast of Palau.

A Couple of Nautiluses

These two nautiluses ( Nautilus belauensis ) are pictured off the coast of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. There are six living species of nautilus who live in chambered shells. As they get bigger,...

Farming Oysters Despite Acidic Seas

Bill Taylor, Paul Taylor, Diani Taylor and Brittany Taylor have more in common than just a last name; they also share a business. The Taylors have been in the family oyster-farming business in Washington...