Invertebrates

FEATURES

Blog entry
This summer, many of you have likely enjoyed feasting on crabs, be they blue, stone, or Dungeness, and a special treat will have been the big, easy morsels of claw meat. The size of...
Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high...
During the summer of 1998, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine...

LATEST POSTS

In recent years, blooms of jellyfish, such as these moon jellies ( Aurita aurita ) in the Chesapeake Bay, have become more common around the world for a number of different reasons . One result of these blooms is that there is...
An orange brisingid starfish sits on a large reef of Lophelia pertusa, cold-...
These watercolor sketches of Trapezia crabs were drawn by Frederick Bayer, a...

LEARN MORE

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are...
This common octopus ( Octopus vulgaris ) doesn't have a jetpack to help him zoom through the water, but he's got something pretty close: a siphon that shoots water. (It's the little orange/yellow cup...
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...
These Pacific cephalopods illustrate the wide diversity among this group of mollusks. You can learn about a relative, the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux ), in our Giant Squid section.
Researchers use Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) like this one to study the diversity of coral reef organisms. They leave the structures underwater for about a year. Then they retrieve...
A chambered nautilus shell.
Humans have long been captivated by what we now call the giant squid ( Architeuthis ). This image gallery gives a glimpe into our fascination with the animal. For a long time, people saw mysterious...
This much smaller hyperiid (in the genus Paraphromina ) has eyes that make up 45 percent of its body! Its many retinas, which researchers believe are used to maximize light detection, are the small...
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...
Rapa whelks , native to Asia, have invaded the Chesapeake Bay and are raising concerns about economic and ecological impacts to the Bay region due to their shellfish diet. Scientists believe that...
A thicket of white stony coral ( Lophelia pertusa ) shelters a squat lobster (Eumunida picta). This is the typical shape of this widespread species of deep-sea coral. See more pictures of coral in...
Nine years ago I was invited by a colleague to join a research team investigating deep-sea coral habitats . I was asked to examine the invertebrates associated with these ecosystems. After my first...
A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's...
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...
Weighing 600 pounds (around 272kg) and having a 30 foot (around 9 meters) arm span, the largest recorded giant pacific octopus was truly enormous. Giant pacific octopuses are powerful predators that...
When hoping to discover a pearl, looking inside one of the oysters you slurp may not be the best plan. Food oysters in the family Ostreidae are able to produce pearls, however these tend to be small...
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...
Scientists have been studying why populations of crown-of-thorns sea stars ( Acanthaster planci ) have mushroomed in recent decades. Coral reefs can suffer when the sea star's numbers explode because...
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...
Subscribe to Invertebrates