Invertebrates

Animals without backbones make up a huge percentage of the ocean’s biodiversity. They aren’t just small (like pteropods) or squishy (like jellyfish); the giant squid and corals that build huge reefs are also invertebrates.

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Seaside Lichens

Horizontal bands of color represent different species of lichen that have...
Japanese scientists videotaped this female giant squid, alive, at the water's surface

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Giant Squid

Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...
On Moorea, an island in French Polynesia, researchers are striving to complete a biocode—a DNA catalog of every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers.

Scientists Catalog Life on the Island of Moorea

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...
Many medicines were based on a chemical from the sea sponge Tectitethya crypta.

Five Questions for Shirley Pomponi, Medical Sponge Hunter

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 Branch Oceanographic Institute, however,...

Marine Parasites: Crazy…and Really Cool!

The whitish spots on this fish are individual parasitic trematode worms. Credit: Hans Hillewaert Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high numbers and put together can...
Colorful Christmas tree worms

Happy Holidays from the Ocean!

Ocean creatures may not sing carols and go ice skating, but some celebrate the winter holidays all year round! So turn on the “Jingle Shell Rock” and celebrate with these intriguing ocean animals.

Acrobatic Blue Whales Do the Twist While Feeding

Ari Friedlaender, a research scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab, tags a blue whale. Credit: Jeremy Goldbogen I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging in the...
The elusive giant squid

Reflections on the Successful Search for the Giant Squid

This still of a giant squid is from the first video filmed of the species in its natural habitat. Credit: NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since...

How Coastal Seagrass Feeds the Deep

Seagrasses are flowering plants that can form dense underwater meadows and are an important shallow water habitat. Credit: Heather Dine, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary It is a well-known fact that for animals living...
Chrysaora melanaster is a jellyfish found in the Arctic.

Jellyfish and Comb Jellies

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing tentacles, and the comb jellies...
A ribbon worm curled up in a mud flat.

The Search for an Elusive Ribbon Worm

A Hubrechtia ribbon worm, found after a long day of searching in mud flats in Fort Pierce, Florida. Credit: Eduardo Zattara, Smithsonian Institution With 1,400 named species of ribbon worms inhabiting every ecosystem on...

Ocean Acidification Excites Boring Sponges

This orange boring sponge ( Cliona varians ) overgrows several coral species at Panama's Smithsonian Tropical Studies Institute. Credit: Amber Stubler Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to...
A blue crab on the Mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S.

A Bite of Bitter Crab

Credit: Brian Henderson, Flickr user stinkenroboter Hopefully you've never bitten into a delicious hunk of snow crab meat and instantly spit it out because instead of crab you tasted... aspirin?! If you have, it...
A polar bear and its cub in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Celebrating Marine Moms

The ocean is home to many moms of all shapes and sizes: from charismatic polar bears and dolphins to small fishes and shrimps and more. Learn about some of the diverse parenting habits of...
Squid at Sunset Reef Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Stunning Squid Pictures

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...
Zombie worm eats whale bones in Japan's Sagami Bay

Zombie Worms Crave Bone

Credit: Yoshihiro Fujiwara/JAMSTEC Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to 7 centimeter) Osedax worms were first discovered living in the bones of a rotting gray...

Ribbon Worm Redux

The ribbon worm seen here, Ramphogordius sanguineus , is known to regenerate after losing a part of its body. Credit: Eduardo Zattara Even on an early winter morning, it was sunny and warm in...
A blue-ringed octopus

A Beautiful and Deadly Octopus

Octopi (Or octopuses, both are technically correct ) are renowned as one of the smartest animals alive. With no bones except for their sharp beak, they can fit through almost any hole or crevice...

The Design of a Beautiful Weapon

Video of Claws Out: Fiddler Crabs Do Battle 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,...

Claws Out: Fiddler Crabs Do Battle

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...

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