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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When they get larger, Portunus sayi are formidable predators, quick to consume any smaller animal that comes within reach. Fish, other crustaceans, and even smaller members of their own species are not safe from this hungry...
A huge colony of brittlestars (likely Ophiacantha rosea ) covers the peak of...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic...

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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...
You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are, so let’s start with the basics. Simply put, forams are single-celled organisms related to the familiar amoeba that...
An orange brisingid starfish sits on a large reef of Lophelia pertusa, cold-water corals in the Gulf of Mexico, at 450 m depth as a school of fish swims above. They have many arms—up to 20!—covered...
You may have seen the sparkle of fireflies on a summer’s night. The fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction in their glowing abdomens, a process known as bioluminescence. But did you know...
The veined octopus ( Amphioctopus marginatus ), also known as the coconut octopus, has a skill beyond other cephalopods: it hides under animal and coconut shells, dragging them along the seafloor for...
What is this bizarre, spiky-looking organism? Hint: it can be found in tropical areas of the Pacific and Indian ocean basins crawling slowly over coral reefs and devouring any living coral polyps...
The shrimp shown in this picture is a lot smaller then it looks- most adult anemone shrimp will only grow to about ½-1 inches long. Anemone shrimp ( Periclimenes inornatus ), reside as the name...
This tan urchin, Conolampas sigsbei , is one of only two known deep-sea urchins that cover their tops with small rocks and shells. Many shallow species cover themselves for reasons that have been...
A male mudflat fiddler crab ( Uca rapax ) waves its huge claw to impress females and threaten competitors. Only the males have the large claw. When the tide is high, fiddler crabs retreat to their...
"While Komodo Island, Indonesia is famous for its giant prehistoric lizard, its underwater also holds unique marine species to treasure. The orangutan crab is one of them. With its maximum size of...
Found in Arctic waters, this rare deep-water species of larvacean , Oikopleura gorskyi , eats by filtering particles from the seawater it drifts through. Larvaceans build 'houses' around themselves...
This beautiful spider conch ( Lambis chiragra ) was collected by Census of Marine Life scientists conducting research near China.
"Harlequin shrimp normally live in pairs and their main diet is starfish... It takes a good eye and patience to find this beautiful shrimp, which looks like candy.” -- Nature's Best photographer,...
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...
On the deep seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystems made up of fish, corals, sea stars, anemones and other invertebrates flourish. Since the sun’s rays don’t reach the deep sea, coral communities...
This bright purple sea star is a new species found by the Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems , a project of the Census of Marine Life. This particular specimen was seen on the reefs of the French...
With seven pairs of legs, nine eyes, a tail with light-sensing organs and shells the shape of flying saucers, horseshoe crabs, like this species from Thailand ( Tachypleus tridentatus ) look like...
Stinging cells (nematocysts) line the tentacles of this moon jelly ( Aurelia aurita ). Upon contact with prey or a predator, a venom-laden harpoon shoots out to stun or kill. Read more about...
A cnidarian brought up from the Arctic seafloor more than 2000 meters (6562 feet) deep.
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