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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During the summer of 1998, scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science made a series of disturbing discoveries in the Chesapeake Bay. In June, they collected an unusual specimen: a single marine snail...
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The blanket octopus can rip a poisonous tentacle from a Portuguese man-o-war...
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Hyperiid amphipods are small crustaceans related to sand fleas and distantly...
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Bioluminescence is one of the more captivating adaptations that have evolved in...

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Smaller than the head of a pin, this arrow squid (Doryteuthis plei ) embryo looks like a miniature adult and is almost ready to hatch! Depending on the squid species, the development from a fertilized egg to a nearly-hatched...
What are corals? Corals themselves are animals. But tropical reef-building...
In recent years, blooms of jellyfish, such as these moon jellies ( Aurita...

DIVE DEEPER

Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...
Seahorses make noise! Seahorses make noises that can be heard underwater similar to the sound of smacking your lips. They make them during feeding and courtship.
Alaska’s pristine coastline is ripe for an influx of invasive marine species such as the European green crab and the rough periwinkle (an Atlantic sea snail), warns a new study by a team of...
Polarized sunglasses have become the norm for humans when they want to filter out the strong glare from the sunlight bouncing off of water in a horizontal direction. But how do animals do that live...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic , usually within 500 meters of the surface. To survive the cold Arctic winters, Calanus hyperboreus builds up dense fat (...
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, or received...
Hermit crabs, like this one collected in Moorea, usually protect their soft, vulnerable abdomens from predators by reusing empty snail shells. They are picky home owners and they will trade shells...
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-...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through their bodies. They are very common on Caribbean coral reefs, and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is great...
A smasher mantis shrimp came out from its burrow on a fringing reef adjacent to the USS Liberty ship wreck in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia at a depth of 6 meters. The smashers use their raptorial claw...
This beautiful jewel squid ( Histioteuthis bonnellii ) can be found swimming above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, at depths of 500-2,000 meters (1,640-6,562 feet). The “jewels” covering the body are...
A sea monster attacks a ship in an illustration for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The illustration is by publisher and artist Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who is most famous for his drawings...
All over the world, people have been witnessing gigantic blooms of tens of thousands of jellyfish where once there were only a few. Fishers find them clogging their nets and costing them dearly. In...
Some of the most otherworldly animals—like those straight from a science fiction story—can be seen in the open ocean at night. By drifting in the blackwater in a scuba suit just under the surface,...
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.
Travel to a world of perpetual night--the deep ocean hydrothermal vents near the Galapagos Rift where life thrives around superheated water spewing from deep inside the Earth. Discovered only in 1977...
This image from a scanning electron micrograph magnifies the tiny teeth that cover the surface of the giant squid’s tongue-like organ, or radula . Seven rows of sharp teeth help direct tiny pieces of...
"Inside the Open Ocean: Blue Water Diving" produced by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) , describes a specialized diving technique that lets biologists study the ocean's most fragile...
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...
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