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Fever. Aching muscles. Coughing. Sniffling. It’s flu season . Have you had your shot? If so, thank a horseshoe crab. In fact, if you’ve been put on an IV, had a medical device implanted,...
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The open ocean is surprisingly barren to the naked eye. Every now and again you...
Dr. Clyde Roper discusses the fascinating anatomy of the giant squid (...
In this video Smithsonian research zoologist Dr. Martha Nizinski takes viewers...

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In Antarctica's Southern Ocean swims a beautiful polychaete (bristly worm) called Tomopteris carpenteri , which is adorned with alternating red and transparent bands. The largest species in its genus, it it found throughout the...
In the Coral Triangle, a biodiverse area between Indonesia and the...
This beautiful jewel squid ( Histioteuthis bonnellii ) can be found swimming...

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Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...
This is a tree topper unlike any other! Reminiscent of a freshly made snow angel, these pteropods are actually shell-less sea snails ( Clione limacina ). Unlike the typical snail, they flap their...
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...
This 200-year-old bamboo coral colony is growing on the Davidson Seamount off the coast of California. The skeleton of this deep-sea coral has bamboo-like segments. See more pictures of coral in our...
Success! A so-called "dumbo" octopod is chased and finally captured by a suction device on the ROV, skillfully operated by a pilot on the ship above.
Dr. Clyde Roper, squid expert, explains how he developed a passionate interest in the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux) in this excerpt of "Eyeball to Eyeball," an episode of Errol Morris' First Person...
Like it or not, giant squids are related to snails, clams, and even slugs. They are all mollusks and have soft, fleshy bodies. More can be found in the Giant Squid section .
The Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology has a collection of over 57,000 specimens from over 5,700 sites in the Gulf of Mexico, which are now catalogued on Google Earth . Below is a tiny...
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...
This snapping shrimp female ( Synalpheus regalis ) is the queen of her colony which means she is the only female to have babies. She stores her clutch of eggs under her abdomen until they hatch -...
This pair of sea butterflies ( Limacina helicina ) flutter not far from the ocean's surface in the Arctic. Sea butterflies are a type of sea snail, but instead of dragging themselves around the...
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...
Atolla tenella , a midwater scyphomedusa , as seen under a microscope. View the “Under Arctic Ice” photo essay to learn more.
The Baltic is a brackish sea, a unique combination of freshwater from rivers in the surrounding countries and salt water from the ocean. The low salinity levels are one of the factors that determine...
Nudibranchs are a kind of sea slug, and their 3000 species are found from the poles to the tropics in both shallow and deep water. Though they often only reach two centimeters in length, they are...
Male fiddler crabs each have a single super-sized claw that they use as a weapon to threaten and fight other males and as beautiful adornment to attract females. Here, see a video of two male dancing...
Alien-looking creatures like this deep-red jellyfish ( Crossota norvegica ) swim in the Arctic Sea. Learn more about Arctic sea life in our Under the Arctic Ice story, or at the home page for the...
Most scuba divers scour coral reefs looking for colorful fish, natural beauty, and maybe even the perfect underwater photo . Shirley Pomponi , a biologist at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor...
The Great Barrier Reef site in Australia was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. The site is the world’s most extensive stretch of coral reef with probably the richest animal diversity...
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