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Not all slugs (snails without shells) are slimy brown pests found in your backyard garden. In the ocean they come in a huge variety of colors — some match the background and are hard...
In a decade long project, which ended in October 2010, scientists with the...
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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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Like its terrestrial namesake, the Venus fly-trap anemone ( Actinoscyphia sp.) sits quietly and waits for food to drift into its outstretched tentacles, which are lined with stinging harpoons called nematocysts. Of course, this...
Census of Marine Life researchers discovered this unusual transparent sea...
Smaller than the head of a pin, this arrow squid (Doryteuthis plei ) embryo...

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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...
Dryodora glandiformis is a ctenophore found in Arctic and Northern European waters, bearing a pair of long and lovely tentacles.
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...
Giant squid have the largest eye in the animal kingdom. At up to 10 inches in diameter, people often describe it as the size of a dinner plate -- or, in other words, as big as a human head. Here,...
There aren't any mummies or zombies buried under the seafloor: instead the ocean has its own terror from below, the bobbit worm ( Eunice aphroditois ). A couple inches wide and up to ten feet long,...
This bearded fireworm ( Hermodice carunculata ) must have a strong stomach -- it’s sucking on fire coral ( Millepora sp. ), which would give the unlucky snorkeler a nasty sting. Encountered in St...
Seahorse couples, such as this pair of thorny seahorses ( Hippocampus histrix ) , greet each other every morning with a unique dance that sometimes involves changing color. The couple promenades and...
This close-up view of salps, which have aggregated together into a long chain, have brilliant red guts from eating red plankton. They were observed by researchers with the Census of Marine...
Stinging cells (nematocysts) line the tentacles of this moon jelly ( Aurelia aurita ). Upon contact with prey or a predator, a venom-laden harpoon shoots out to stun or kill. Read more about...
Instead of females, male seahorses carry the developing seahorse embryos in a kangaroo-like pouch. During mating season, the female deposits her eggs into the pouch, and the male fertilizes them...
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...
This purple urchin Paleopneustes cristatus is seldom seen by itself, and can be found in groups of hundreds. Dr. Dave Pawson , a senior scientist at NMNH who studies deep-sea echinoderms, is testing...
These large jellyfish ( Chrysaora fuscescens ) are most commonly found along the coasts of California and Oregon. (They're also popular in the displays of public aquaria.) Their bells can grow to a...
A blue cod and sea pens , a unique type of cnidarian , speckle the seafloor in New Zealand's Fiordland region.You can see more beautiful underwater photos from Brian Skerry in his image gallery .
A beroid ctenophore lunges toward prey with its mouth wide open. Beroid comb jellies don't have tentacles to catch prey: instead, they can open their mouths and snap them shut tight to trap prey...
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...
Sea cucumbers might have a cucumber shape, but are definitely animal, not vegetable… or fruit. They belong to the Phylum Echinodermata , which also includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea stars and...
This crab ( Neolithodes sp. ) was collected on a NOAA/MAR-ECO cruise to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the summer of 2009. Its red color provides camouflage and protection from predators. Red wavelengths...
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...
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