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Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been dying in large numbers—and not gracefully. As their tissues collapse, the starfish (also called sea stars) start to look stretched and...
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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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Collect, sort, identify, photograph, sample, record. Repeat a couple thousand...

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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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Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are...
This deep-sea urchin ( Echinocrepis rostrata ) is an important “bulldozer.” It turns over sediment and exposes prey as it moves across the ocean floor, leaving a trail of tracks behind. This photo...
Tectitethya crypta (formerly known as Cryptotheca crypta ) is a large, shallow-water sponge found in the Caribbean. It was first studied for medical purposes in the 1950s when few scientists or...
A deep-sea octopus wraps itself around a submersible’s robotic arm 2,300 meters (7,546 feet) down in the Gulf of Mexico. "Most octopuses will let you get close, maybe even touch them, but normally...
For nearly 35 years, National Geographic photojournalist Brian Skerry has been immersing himself in the big blue to get the perfect underwater photograph. He admits that there will never will be a "...
In 1874 Reverend Moses Harvey of Newfoundland displayed the giant squid he bought on the side of his barn, much to the dismay of Mrs. Harvey. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant...
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...
Most wild seahorses (here the thorny seahorse Hippocampus histrix ) are monogamous and some species mate for life. Searching for mates can be difficult and risky since seahorses are poor swimmers,...
The giant squid is among the largest invertebrates on Earth, but this deep sea creature has rarely been observed by humans -- alive. Over the centuries, many dead giant squid have washed up on the...
In this video Smithsonian research zoologist Dr. Martha Nizinski takes viewers with her as she searches for crustaceans in the deep sea . She's particularly interested in finding squat lobsters ,...
Discover some amazing corals in this footage that shows and identifies a range of deep-sea coral species from the Juan de Fuca Canyon off the Olympic coast and the Davidson Seamount, an underwater...
The waters of New Guinea teemed with exotic fishes and crabs, which were faithfully depicted by William Dampier’s artist. When Dampier’s book A Voyage to New Holland was published in 1703,...
In the spring of 2011, a research crew from Oceana spent two months in the brackish Baltic Sea . The Baltic faces challenges from pollution, algae blooms, over fishing, and invasive species. Oceana...
Discovering new species is an exciting quest, right? Well, some parts are—but after you find a cool-looking organism that you think is a new species, there's a lot more to be done. You have to...
I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging in the Natural History Museum in London, eating an ice cream and wondering “How in the world did that whale get so big?”...
Rapa whelks , native to Asia, have invaded the Chesapeake Bay and are raising concerns about economic and ecological impacts to the Bay region due to their shellfish diet. Scientists believe that...
In 1954 Smithsonian researchers dissected this squid specimen from the stomach of a lancetfish and added it to the Museum’s squid collection. Almost 50 years later, it helped scientists identify a...
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...
The festive Christmas tree worm ( Spirobranchus giganteus ) lives on tropical coral reefs and resembles a fluffy fir tree adorned with ornaments. The multi-functional branch-like appendages are used...
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