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What reef animal comes in a rainbow of crazy colors, can throw out its stomach to immobilize predators, then creep away and regrow a brand-new stomach? It’s the sea cucumber, prized as a gastronomic...
This summer, many of you have likely enjoyed feasting on crabs, be they blue,...
About 100 million years ago , during the heyday of the dinosaurs, reefs were...
Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to...

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The sea hare gets its common name from its equivalent of nose and tongue—external sensory organs for smell and taste called rhinophores—which look like bunny ears. The sea hare, however, doesn't hop like a rabbit: it is a sea...
“Upon returning from the reef after a night dive, I swam toward a bright...
This ctenophore (a stingless jellyfish-like animal) is native to the east...

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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more...

The Ocean Blog

This beautiful larval (baby) octopus was collected by scientists from the University of Miami during a research cruise in the Straits of Florida, a narrow channel between the Atlantic and the Gulf of...
Dr. Clyde Roper, squid expert, explains how he developed a passionate interest in the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux) in this excerpt of "Eyeball to Eyeball," an episode of Errol Morris' First Person...
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 "...
Brachiopods are an ancient group of organisms, at least 600 millions years old. They might just look like clams, but they are not even closely related. Instead of being horizontally symmetrical along...
When they get larger, Portunus sayi are formidable predators, quick to consume any smaller animal that comes within reach. Fish, other crustaceans, and even smaller members of their own species are...
Squids come in a wide range of sizes, from smaller-than-your-thumb to the enormous giant squid. Giant squid grow up to 16 meters (50 feet). Learn more the life, range, and ecology of the giant squid...
A coral hermit crab, Paguritta harmsi , about the size of two grains of rice, living in coral in the waters of Japan's Ogasawara Islands.
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 ."
Can you spot the amphipod ( Phronima atlantica ) in the below photo? She's the transparent lobster-looking animal in the middle, surrounded by her own eggs -- inside a sac that once was the "barrel"...
One of the most common inhabitants of the sargassum community, the shrimp Latreutes fucorum (Hippolytidae) is perfectly colored to hide on the leaf-like blades. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian...
Like many deep sea creatures, this tiny comb jelly ( Bathocyroe fosteri ) has a transparent body, enabling it to blend into the surrounding waters. This ctenophore is very common around the Mid-...
A mass of white muscle the size of a softball surrounds the dark brown beak of a giant squid. Learn more about this animal's oversized anatomy in our Giant Squid section .
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...
Bioluminescence is one of the more captivating adaptations that have evolved in marine animals. It's the ability of organisms to create and emit light. Dive underwater and you may witness lightshows...
Using an ROV (Remotely-Operated Vehicle) equipped with a high-definition video camera, scientists can observe the life that flourishes beneath the Arctic ice . On this expedition, they discovered...
Scientists have been studying why populations of crown-of-thorns sea stars ( Acanthaster planci ) have mushroomed in recent decades. Coral reefs can suffer when the sea star's numbers explode because...
Nudibranchs are mollusks that have evolved from shelled ancestors. Like the reddish-orange Coryphella verrucosa shown here, they're often noted for their vibrant colors and striking forms. View other...
Seahorses are not just tropical creatures. They can be found in colder waters like those found off New Zealand, Argentina, Eastern Canada, and the UK. This long-snouted seahorse ( Hippocampus...
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