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The Ocean Blog

Yolanda Villacampa is a museum specialist in the invertebrate zoology department of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. She is standing surrounded by the invertebrate zoology collection.
In the spring of 2011, a research crew from Oceana spent two months in the brackish Baltic Sea . The Baltic faces challenges from pollution, algae blooms, over fishing, and invasive species. Oceana...
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...
The Great Barrier Reef site in Australia was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. The site is the world’s most extensive stretch of coral reef with probably the richest animal diversity...
This illustration shows the edge of a warm inland sea during the Cretaceous Period, heyday of the dinosaurs. Constantly shifting sediment supported new groups of organisms, including rudist clams—...
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, they...
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...
The feathery strands at the back of this nudibranch’s ( Chromodoris willani ) body are no mere adornment: they’re its gills! Nudibranchs, shell-less snails or sea slugs, are named for these tufted...
During the summer of 1998, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science made a series of disturbing discoveries in the Chesapeake Bay. In June, they collected an unusual specimen: a single...
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...
These Pacific cephalopods illustrate the wide diversity among this group of mollusks. You can learn about a relative, the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux ), in our Giant Squid section.
When hoping to discover a pearl, looking inside one of the oysters you slurp may not be the best plan. Food oysters in the family Ostreidae are able to produce pearls, however these tend to be small...
Amanda Feuerstein with a nesting olive ridley ( Lepidochelys olivacea ). Feuerstein is a co-author of a study that surveyed algae, crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts that live on olive ridley...
Nudibranchs are mollusks that have evolved from shelled ancestors. Like the reddish-orange Coryphella verrucosa shown here, they're often noted for their vibrant colors and striking forms. View other...
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...
Portrait of a scallop with black and white striped lips, whose shell is encrusted with a red sponge.
This pair of sea butterflies ( Limacina helicina ) flutter not far from the ocean's surface in the Arctic. Sea butterflies are a type of sea snail, but instead of dragging themselves around the...
A colony of 100 million flame shells ( Limaria hians ) was discovered in Scotland in 2012 , and is thought to be the biggest in the world. Flame shells are bivalve mollusks that are shaped a bit like...
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