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Depending on whom you talk to, jellyfish are either fascinating, a nuisance, a toxic menace, or some combination of the above. Jellyfish plop into the media spotlight when their presence causes beach closures, or...
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The ocean is home to a phenomenal diversity of marine organisms. They have...
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This summer, many of you have likely enjoyed feasting on crabs, be they blue,...
Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to...

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A sea monster attacks a ship in an illustration for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The illustration is by publisher and artist Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who is most famous for his drawings in Verne's books. This...
Many sperm whales stranded on beaches or caught by whalers exhibit telltale...
Two bright orange anemonefish ( Amphiprion ocellaris ) poke their heads...

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Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean...
This rare staurozoan , or stalked jellyfish ( Haliclystus californiensis ) is about 2 centimeters in length and was collected off the coast of California. Unlike the traditional bell-shaped floating...
This newly-discovered carnivorous sponge ( Chondrocladia lyra ) was found using robotic submersibles operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute 10,000 feet below the surface in dark...
In this episode of the Podcast of Life , learn how three fiery, painful stings during an early morning swim in Hawaii changed the life of researcher Angel Yanagihara. Once the young biochemist had...
Squids come in a wide range of sizes but despite differences in size and shape, all work basically the same way inside. More about the giant squid can be found in the Giant Squid section .
by Fox Meyer Squids, octopuses, and cuttlefishes are among the few animals in the world that can change the color of their skin in the blink of an eye. These cephalopods —a group of mollusks with...
I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since 1966, studying and reporting on all kinds of octopuses and squids . But I’ve always had a particular fascination with the...
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the external tissues of black corals come in many...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run into its tentacles. But...
In a 2011 study published in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History , researchers documented a number of different organisms living on olive ridley and green turtles in the Pacific. Of...
This beautiful jewel squid ( Histioteuthis bonnellii ) can be found swimming above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, at depths of 500-2,000 meters (1,640-6,562 feet). The “jewels” covering the body are...
A pile of sea stars decomposing from starfish wasting syndrome on the coast of Vancouver in September 2013.
Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."
I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging in the Natural History Museum in London, eating an ice cream and wondering “How in the world did that whale get so big?”...
A fringe of short tentacles surrounds the flattened bell of this tiny, transparent jellyfish ( Halicreas minimum ), which can be found at depths up to 984 feet (300 meters). But it would be hard to...
Dead man’s fingers ( Alcyonium digitatum ) are soft corals named for their appendage-like appearance when thrown ashore by storms. The finger-like clumps of coral polyps come in various shades of...
Massachusetts ceramics artist Joan Lederman glazes her work —including this bowl—with deep sea sediments. Some contain tiny single-celled organisms called foraminifera. Lederman has noticed that...
Rudist clams are mollusks that went extinct about 65 million years ago. They were the reef builders of the Cretaceous Period, the heyday of the dinosaurs. Today corals have taken over the role...
Scypholanceola aestiva looks like an armored alien of the deep. It doesn’t have compound eyes like other hyperiids, but instead sees variations in light using reflective cups embedded in the...
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