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...
Chrysaora melanaster is a jellyfish found in the Arctic.

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Jellyfish and Comb Jellies

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are...

How Jellyfish Break Down Oil After a Spill

Jellyfish produce mucus, especially when stressed, which can interact with oil and break it down. This moon jellyfish is sloughing off mucus that has mixed with droplets of oil. Credit: Brad Gemmell By Emily...

Seaside Lichens

Horizontal bands of color represent different species of lichen that have adapted to the conditions at different heights above sea level. Credit: Stephen Sharnoff Very few plant species can survive close to the ocean,...

A Rainbow of Colorful Lobsters

Most lobsters are a mottled brown color, but sometimes you can see a strange orange or blue lobster. And then, when lobsters are cooked, they turn bright red. Why is there such a rainbow...

What Makes Sponges Grow?

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...
Aegina, a type of jellyfish, swims through the water.

The Surprising Elegance of Midwater Sea Life

Imagine a hollow cube, measuring one foot on each side, suspended in the ocean at a depth roughly three football fields below the surface. From here, the seafloor is another 4,000 feet (or 1,200...

15 Creatures in the Gulf of Mexico that are Stranger Than Fiction

Credit: © 2015 DEEPEND/Danté Fenolio The Gulf of Mexico coastal region is known for its seafood —shrimp, spiny lobsters, crawfish and oysters just to name a few. Crawfish and shrimp boils, where spiced seafood...

A Jellyfish Is Born

In schyphozoans, a process called strobilation takes place in order for the jellies to reproduce. During strobilation, a polyp splits into 10-15 plate-like segments stacked atop one another in a tower called a strobila...

Facing Climate Change: Oyster Farmers

Generally, shelled animals—including mussels, clams, urchins and starfish—are going to have trouble building their shells in more acidic water. Mussels and oysters are expected to grow less shell by 25 percent and 10 percent...

How Do Jellyfish Sting?

Jellyfish are transparent and made up of 95 percent water, so you’d think there isn’t much to them. But you’d be wrong. Jellyfish are more complex than you’d think—and one of their most fascinating...

Oil’s Impact on Marine Invertebrates

In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among...
A brachiopod looks like a clam, but they aren't closely related.

A Modern Day Brachiopod

Brachiopods are an ancient group of organisms, at least 600 million years old. They might just look like clams, but they are not even closely related. Instead of being horizontally symmetrical along their hinge,...

Glowing Dinoflagellate Meal

Watch as barnacles feed on bioluminescent dinoflagellates. Barnacles are crustaceans (like crabs, shrimps and lobsters) that secrete their shells for protection while living attached to things like rocks, harbors or boat hulls. They feed...
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Here Comes Santa Claws

Santa isn’t the only long-distance traveler in a red suit—at the beginning of their wet season, the Christmas Island red crab ( Gecarcoidea natalis ) makes an impressive annual migration across Christmas Island, an...

Video of Christmas Crab Migration

The Christmas Island red crab ( Gecarcoidea natalis ) makes an impressive annual migration across Christmas Island, an island named for the day it was discovered in 1643. Read more about the great migration .
A female and male Photerus annecohenae

You Light Up My World!

A female (top left) and male Photerus annecohenae. Note that females are larger than males (sexual dimorphism) and that males have bigger eyes. Credit: Jim G. Morin While people may give chocolates to the...

Slow Life: Time-Lapse on the Coral Reef

How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run...

Searching for Crustaceans in the Deep Sea

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 , which despite their...

Video of Cirrate Octopod aka Dumbo Octopus

This octopod is sometimes called a “Dumbo” octopod because its fins resemble the ears of Disney’s Dumbo the elephant. The video was recorded in 2003 on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge by the Russian manned submersible...

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