Invertebrates

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In a decade long project, which ended in October 2010, scientists with the Census of Marine Life traveled the world cataloging the ocean’s life forms. From Australia to China to the Gulf of Mexico...
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From the giant squid to microscopic squid babies, squids are beautiful and...
Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been...
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Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many...

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In this video Smithsonian research zoologist Dr. Martha Nizinski takes viewers with her as she searches for crustaceans in the deep sea . She's particularly interested in finding squat lobsters , which despite their name, are...
Discovering new species is an exciting quest, right? Well, some parts are—...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the...

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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more...

The Ocean Blog

“Upon returning from the reef after a night dive, I swam toward a bright reflection and came eye-to-eye with this beautiful, curious squid," said Charles Viggers, a Nature's Best photographer. Squids...
Octopuses are colorblind, but manage to blend into the background seamlessly—or stand out in bright color to startle their enemies. So how do they do it? That's the question Roger Hanlon of the...
Squids come in a wide range of sizes, from smaller-than-your-thumb to the enormous giant squid. Giant squid grow up to 16 meters (50 feet). Learn more the life, range, and ecology of the giant squid...
This close-up view of salps, which have aggregated together into a long chain, have brilliant red guts from eating red plankton. They were observed by researchers with the Census of Marine...
Most wild seahorses (here the thorny seahorse Hippocampus histrix ) are monogamous and some species mate for life. Searching for mates can be difficult and risky since seahorses are poor swimmers,...
Dr. Clyde Roper, Smithsonian zoologist and squid expert, tries to measure up to a giant squid specimen (Architeuthis) from New Zealand. The squid wins. More about the giant squid can be found in our...
In 1954 Smithsonian researchers dissected this squid specimen from the stomach of a lancetfish and added it to the Museum’s squid collection. Almost 50 years later, it helped scientists identify a...
This red octopod ( Stauroteuthis syrtensis ) shines in a novel way. Suckers stretching in a single row down each arm flash on and off. The glowing-sucker octopod drifts through deep waters off the...
Named for the radiant blue color on its back and sides, the blue shark ( Prionace glauca ) traverses the world’s temperate and tropical seas. Known for traveling great distances and being a swift...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through their bodies. They are very common on Caribbean coral reefs, and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is great...
Dr. Clyde Roper prepares to dive thousands of feet to a giant squid habitat off the coast of New Zealand in a one-person submersible. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid...
This snapping shrimp female ( Synalpheus regalis ) is the queen of her colony which means she is the only female to have babies. She stores her clutch of eggs under her abdomen until they hatch -...
Ghost crabs are often seen scuttling quickly along beaches at night, when they emerge from their burrows to feed, and can be difficult to photograph in the wild. They are common in Moorea, an island...
The spiral-tufted bryozoan ( Bugula neritina ) is being studied for a potential Alzheimer's disease and cancer drug -- but it's not the bryozoan that makes the chemical. The chemical, found in the...
This beautiful larval (baby) octopus was collected by scientists from the University of Miami during a research cruise in the Straits of Florida, a narrow channel between the Atlantic and the Gulf of...
The blue crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) is one of the most important commercial species in the United States, especially in the Chesapeake Bay region on the Mid-Atlantic coast. Its populations are...
Species of deep-sea gold coral, or Gerardia , often have a tree-like shape, as you can see in this specimen. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
Each month, the Naked Oceans podcast invites a leading marine researcher to pick the "critter of the month" by asking: if you were a marine organism, which one would you be? This month, Dr. Nancy...
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