Invertebrates

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From the giant squid to microscopic squid babies, squids are beautiful and fascinating. As cephalopods, the same family as octopuses and cuttlefish, they have no bones, and swim head-first through the water with their...
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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I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since 1966...

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Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at around 2 centimeters per...
Smaller than the head of a pin, this arrow squid (Doryteuthis plei ) embryo...
Anemones are known for serving as homes for Nemo and countless other small...

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Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are...
Most lobsters are a mottled brown color, but sometimes you can see a strange orange or blue lobster. And then, when lobsters are cooked, they turn bright red. Why is there such a rainbow of lobster...
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...
This ctenophore (a stingless jellyfish-like animal) is native to the east coast of North and South America. In 1982, it was discovered in the Black Sea, where it was transported by ballast water . It...
Male fiddler crabs, like this one collected on Moorea, wave their enlarged claw as way of signaling to other crabs, especially during mating season. Learn more about the Island of Moorea in the...
Shellfish from the Chesapeake Bay are prized by seafood lovers. But the Bay's ecosystem and fisheries are threatened by human disturbances, including the introduction of non-native species. Non-...
What are corals? Corals themselves are animals. But tropical reef-building corals have tiny plant-like organisms living in their tissue. The corals couldn’t survive without these microscopic algae–...
How many animals swim in the sea? It's not easy to count them all. To get a feel for the ocean's diversity, scientists, such as those involved in the Census of Marine Life , sail out on research...
Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to the world that they are unexciting, ordinary and quite frankly, boring. However, if ever a misnomer existed, this is it. More...
Ocean creatures may not sing carols and go ice skating, but some celebrate the winter holidays all year round! So turn on the “Jingle Shell Rock” and celebrate with these intriguing ocean animals.
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea cucumber ( Enypniastes sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,750 meters depth. It creeps forward on its tentacles pretty slowly, at...
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...
All over the world, people have been witnessing gigantic blooms of tens of thousands of jellyfish where once there were only a few. Fishers find them clogging their nets and costing them dearly. In...
Squids, octopuses and cuttlefish, such as this Australian Giant Cuttlefish ( Sepia apama ), compose just one group of animals that call seagrass beds home. Clams and worms bury themselves in the mud...
These Themisto hyperiids live in the top 200 meters of cold waters around the world. Each of their two large eyes has an upward-looking zone and a downward-looking zone. Each zone can see at...
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...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic , usually within 500 meters of the surface. To survive the cold Arctic winters, Calanus hyperboreus builds up dense fat (...
The blanket octopus can rip a poisonous tentacle from a Portuguese man-o-war and wield it like a sword to ward off enemies as it soars through the ocean trailing its webbed cloak behind it...
The whitish spots on this fish are individual parasitic trematode worms. Trematodes have complicated life cycles that usually involve multiple hosts -- often starting in a snail and then moving on to...
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