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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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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Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They teem with life, with perhaps one quarter of all ocean...
Watch a Discovery video on Smithsonian squid expert Clyde Roper’s search for giant squid in Kaikoura Canyon off the coast of New Zealand. More about giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid...
This sea potato ( Echinocardium cordatum ) looks similar to its root vegetable namesake, but it's a sea urchin! The spines on this urchin are more hair-like than the spikes seen on some more commonly...
Glowing photophores are visible on this midwater squid ( Abralia veranyi ) viewed from below at low light levels. We think of light as a way to see in the dark. But many species use it to help them...
A diversity of deep-sea corals—including primnoid coral ( Narella sp.), black coral ( Trissopathes pseudtristicha ), and feather stars ( Florometra serratissima )—flourish 2,669 m (8,757 ft) deep on...
The jingle shell ( Anomia simplex ) is a common bivalve found on the Atlantic coast of North America, amongst the more commonly known clams and oysters. As with oysters, the lower shell is glued to a...
The Arctic comb jelly or sea nut ( Mertensia ovum ) is commonly found in the surface (top 50 meters) in cold, northern waters. Like other cydippid ctenophores, it has two tentacles fringed with...
Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."
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-...
The Pharaoh Cuttlefish ( Sepia pharaonis ) lives in warm waters (30°C) in the western Indian Ocean. Cuttlefish are the most commonly caught cuttlefish species in the Persian Gulf, either for aquarium...
Light refracts off the comb-rows of the Mertensia ovum , a ctenophore , producing stripes of rainbow colors . The jelly eats copepods and small crustaceans that become stuck to its sticky tentacles...
The largest of the cuttlefish species, Australian Giant Cuttlefish ( Sepia apama ) delight scientists each year as they gather in masses to spawn in northern Spencer Gulf, northwest of Adelaide in...
The ROV Hyper Dolphin caught this deep-sea jelly (Atolla wyvillei) on film east of Izu-Oshina Island, Japan. When attacked, it uses bioluminescence to "scream" for help—an amazing light show known as...
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...
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...
Welcome to Moorea, a tiny, isolated island in the middle of the vast Pacific. Moorea is 132 square kilometers (51 square miles) of tropical ecosystems – from jungle and wetlands to beaches and coral...
In a 2011 study published in the Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History , researchers documented a number of different organisms living on olive ridley and green turtles in the Pacific. Of...
Since late April, the world has watched a devastating oil spill from a BP drilling rig spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico and become one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the...
All squid species have long been thought to lay their egg clusters on the sea floor and move on. Then in 2005, scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) observed a deep-sea...
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