Smithsonian scientists

Where the pH is the lowest, corals can no longer grow - sand, rubble and seagrasses replace the reef.

Sneak Peek: Future of Coral Reefs in an Acidifying Ocean

Scientists don’t often get the opportunity to travel through time. But nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that provides a glimpse today of what could be...
A sea toad from the deep waters off of Curacao.

Collections from Curaçao

During the 2012 field season of the Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) in Curaçao, Smithsonian scientists collected many specimens with the help of the Curasub . Prospective new species were caught on almost every...

A Voyage of Discovery to Inner Space

Dr. Carole Baldwin , a research zoologist and fish expert with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, gives viewers an inside-look at the Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP). The Mars rover Curiosity is...
The Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure was developed to help scientists study coral reef diversity and have now been adopted broadly to study diversity around the world.

Uncovering Biodiversity… with ARMS and a Submarine Claw

The Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure was developed to help scientists study coral reef diversity and have now been adopted broadly to study diversity around the world. Credit: Laetitia Plaisance/CReefs, Census of Marine Life If...
A tusk shell hermit crab peeks out of his shell.

Uncovering Biodiversity Before It Disappears

Editor's Note: See more information and details about the organisms displayed in the slideshow here . Researchers who come to Curaçao to take part in DROP ( Deep Reef Observation Project ) aren’t running...
Carrie Bow Cay field station sits in the blue and turquoise waters of Belize.

Tracking volcanic rock to the shores of Belize

Mangrove Mystery – Where Did All the Pumice Come From? For years, scientists have found pumice, a porous volcanic rock, scattered on the beaches and mangroves of Belize, despite the lack of volcanoes in...
Corals, sponges, and algae are the major components of most coral reef communities as shown in this picture.

Corals and Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. This is a remarkable statistic...
On Moorea, an island in French Polynesia, researchers are striving to complete a biocode—a DNA catalog of every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers.

Scientists Catalog Life on the Island of Moorea

Welcome to Moorea, a tiny, isolated island in the middle of the vast Pacific. Moorea is 132 square kilometers (51 square miles) of tropical ecosystems – from jungle and wetlands to beaches and coral...
The elusive giant squid

Reflections on the Successful Search for the Giant Squid

This still of a giant squid is from the first video filmed of the species in its natural habitat. Credit: NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since...
A ribbon worm curled up in a mud flat.

The Search for an Elusive Ribbon Worm

A Hubrechtia ribbon worm, found after a long day of searching in mud flats in Fort Pierce, Florida. Credit: Eduardo Zattara, Smithsonian Institution With 1,400 named species of ribbon worms inhabiting every ecosystem on...

Ocean Acidification Excites Boring Sponges

This orange boring sponge ( Cliona varians ) overgrows several coral species at Panama's Smithsonian Tropical Studies Institute. Credit: Amber Stubler Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to...

Ribbon Worm Redux

The ribbon worm seen here, Ramphogordius sanguineus , is known to regenerate after losing a part of its body. Credit: Eduardo Zattara Even on an early winter morning, it was sunny and warm in...
Fossil Whale Digsite at Cerro Ballena, Chile

The Whale Graveyard Whodunit

Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists study several fossil whale skeletons at Cerro Ballena, next to the Pan-American Highway in Atacama Region, Chile, in 2011. Credit: Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution One of the ocean's tiniest...
A walrus sits on top of ice.

The Cultural Icescapes of the Arctic

The Inupiaq people of Alaska have more than 100 words for different kinds of sea ice, illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf ( isavgalik ) rest on ice ( nunavait ) in...

Where the Shark and the Snapper Roam

Grey reef sharks are among the most versatile and tough predators on a Pacific coral reef, but they are also among the most vulnerable species, as they are threatened by wasteful fishing practices like...
A diver collects water samples.

Ocean Sampling Day – Taking the Pulse of the World’s Oceans

Smithsonian scientist Chris Meyer is collecting water samples as part of the Pilot Ocean Sampling Day in 2013 on Moorea, French Polynesia. Credit: Gustav Paulay If you are a bird watcher you have probably...

From Despair to Repair

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...
This queen parrotfish scrapes algae from Caribbean reefs with its parrot-like beak.

From Despair to Repair: Protecting Parrotfish Can Help Bring Back Caribbean Coral Reefs

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...