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Depending on whom you talk to, jellyfish are either fascinating, a nuisance, a toxic menace, or some combination of the above. Jellyfish plop into the media spotlight when their presence causes beach closures, or...
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The ocean is home to a phenomenal diversity of marine organisms. They have...
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This summer, many of you have likely enjoyed feasting on crabs, be they blue,...
Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to...

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What are corals? Corals themselves are animals. But tropical reef-building corals have tiny plant-like organisms living in their tissue. The corals couldn’t survive without these microscopic algae–called zooxanthellae (zo-zan-...
In recent years, blooms of jellyfish, such as these moon jellies ( Aurita...
An orange brisingid starfish sits on a large reef of Lophelia pertusa, cold-...

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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...
The Arctic comb jelly or sea nut ( Mertensia ovum ) is commonly found in the surface (top 50 meters) in cold, northern waters. Like other cydippid ctenophores, it has two tentacles fringed with...
Smithsonian Marine Science Network Postdoctoral Fellow, Seabird McKeon, returns from the Smithsonian field site in Belize. Together with Dan Barshis of Stanford University, Seabird reports on the...
The blue lined octopus may be small, growing to at most 15 cm, but it can be deadly: its venom can cause breathing failure in humans as well as other animals. Turtles can accidentally consume the...
This transparent cockatoo squid ( Leachia sp.), also known as a glass squid, lives in the depths of the ocean and has many adaptations to help it survive there. It retains ammonia solutions inside...
Dr. Clyde Roper recounts the tale of his encounter with a giant squid specimen ( Architeuthis dux) that was found washed up on a Massachusetts beach in this excerpt from "Eyeball to Eyeball," an...
Amanda Feuerstein with a nesting olive ridley ( Lepidochelys olivacea ). Feuerstein is a co-author of a study that surveyed algae, crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts that live on olive ridley...
Come one, come all! See the amazing, the astonishing, half-animal, half-plant! Journey to Tampa Bay, Florida, where scientist Skip Pierce and one of his students first made a remarkable discovery...
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...
Scypholanceola aestiva looks like an armored alien of the deep. It doesn’t have compound eyes like other hyperiids, but instead sees variations in light using reflective cups embedded in the...
This brilliant red octopus ( Benthoctopus sp. ) was photographed at more than 8,800 feet (about 2,700 meters) in Alaminos Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico. See more photos of wild creatures encountered...
These watercolor sketches of Trapezia crabs were drawn by Frederick Bayer, a former Smithsonian coral biologist, in 1947. Trapezia crabs live on and within corals, feeding on their tissue and mucus,...
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-...
Many expeditions in the Arctic reveal new species, such as this jellyfi sh Bathykorus bouilloni , which, strangely, has only four tentacles! Dr. Kevin Raskoff from California State University,...
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...
These baby olive ridleys ( Lepidochelys olivacea ) will eventually provide a home to crustaceans, mollusks, and other epibionts. That's according to a survey of epibionts living on mature, nesting...
Winner of the ‘best camouflage’ contest, the nudibranch Scyllaea pelagica (Scyllaeidae) is usually betrayed only by its motion. Along it’s back, the sea slug has growths called papillae that help its...
Much of the carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere ends up in the ocean. As CO 2 levels rise, seawater becomes more acidic. This change in chemistry poses a serious threat to marine organisms...
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...
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