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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A huge colony of brittlestars (likely Ophiacantha rosea ) covers the peak of a seamount in the deep ocean. What’s the attraction? Food! Their arms reach out for tiny food particles carried by the swift Antarctic Circumpolar...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic...
Deep-sea corals miles away from the source of the Deepwater Horizon oil...

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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...
Thalassinidean shrimp ( Thalassinidea ) build complex burrows deep in the mud. More about mangroves ecosystem can be found in our Mangroves featured story .
Over the last few days, a video of hermit crabs stampeding across the rocky shores of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands has taken the internet by storm. Where are the hermit crabs going, and why?...
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...
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...
Home is where the hull is: Since the dawn of seafaring, humankind has had to deal with pesky creatures, such as barnacles, that “foul” ship hulls and boat propellers like this one. Find out more in...
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.
Smithsonian squid expert Dr. Clyde Roper collaborated with National Geographic to attach this Crittercam to the head of a sperm whale, hoping to get footage of the whale’s favorite prey—giant squid...
Scientist Martha Nizinski holds a squat lobster ( Eumunida picta ) collected at the Lophelia reefs off Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Squat lobsters are extremely abundant there and are usually found...
Sunset? Time to glow! A biological clock triggers bioluminescence in the dinoflagellate Pyrocystis fusiformis . At dusk, cells produce the chemicals responsible for its light. Hear from marine...
The island of Moorea is a natural laboratory for scientists on a quest to catalog every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers. Head out into the field and watch as researchers use cutting-...
This orange boring sponge ( Cliona varians ) overgrows several coral species at Panama's Smithsonian Tropical Studies Institute. Boring sponges mechanically and chemically breakdown mollusk shells...
Dr. Martha Nizinski holds a specimen of a fan sponge ( Phakellia sp. ) collected at a deep-sea coral study site off the coast of South Carolina. Deep-sea corals and sponges provide structure for a...
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...
Many expeditions in the Arctic reveal new species, such as this jellyfi sh Bathykorus bouilloni , which, strangely, has only four tentacles! Dr. Kevin Raskoff from California State University,...
An adult giant squid struggles for survival in an encounter with a sperm whale - its only known predator. The whale will probably overpower and eat the squid. More about the giant squid can be found...
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...
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...
"Blue Dragon nudibranchs are very common to the southeast coast of Australia and have a few color variations. Juveniles are white with blue rhinophores, and adults vary from dark purple to lavender...
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