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...
Japanese scientists videotaped this female giant squid, alive, at the water's surface

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Giant Squid

Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...
Sea otters floating on the surface of the ocean.

Not Just Another Fuzzy Face

A raft of sea otters grooming and resting after foraging. Credit: © Elise Newman Montanino Who hasn’t grinned at the sight of a sea otter floating on its back while grooming itself? No doubt...

Anemone Feeding Time

Anemones are known for serving as homes for Nemo and countless other small fish and invertebrates. But these Cnidarians (in the same phylum as jellyfish and same class as corals ) have a long...
Two nautiluses in the open ocean off the coast of Palau.

A Couple of Nautiluses

These two nautiluses ( Nautilus belauensis ) are pictured off the coast of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. There are six living species of nautilus who live in chambered shells. As they get bigger,...
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It’s All in the (Jellyfish) Family

They may not all look the same, but cnidarians all have cells that are specially designed for stinging. Credit: Allen Collins, Smithsonian By Kalila Morsink With their huge number of venomous stinging cells, jellyfish...
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A Microscopic Identity Crisis

Using DNA to identify larval species in the Gulf Stream When swimming in the water, the planktonic sea snail, Diacria trispinosa , flutters two wings much like a butterfly. When they retract their bodies...

Jellyfish predate dinosaurs. How have they survived so long?

Gelatinous drifters that move in a mesmerizing way, jellyfish are beautiful creatures. But take a closer look and you'll see there's more to these creatures than a pretty picture. Some shoot a deadly venom,...

Farming Oysters Despite Acidic Seas

Bill Taylor, Paul Taylor, Diani Taylor and Brittany Taylor have more in common than just a last name; they also share a business. The Taylors have been in the family oyster-farming business in Washington...

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...

Deep-sea octocorals: An ecosystem of their own

Octocorals dominated the seafloor on Chris Mah's Okeanos mission to Johnston Atoll in the remote Pacific Ocean. Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 Laulima O Ka Moana The deep-sea is a...

Jellies Prey on Octocoral

Tiny jellyfish ( Aegina citrea ) settle on the feeding polyps present on the branch tips of some octocorals, where they devour the tissue.

Sea Stars Feed on Octocorals

Spiny goniasterid sea stars methodically feed on the soft tissues of octocorals as they slowly climb up the body. Many of these predatory sea stars are known to remain on the corals for a...

A Battle With Octocoral for Food

Although not strictly speaking a predator, a sea-anemone-like animal called a zoanthid overtakes the surface of some Paragorgia octocoral colonies, crowding over the original coral animal and competing with the coral’s polyps for food.

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...

Why the Octopus Brain is so Extraordinary

An octopus is a lot brainier than you might imagine considering one of its closest living relatives is a sea slug. In fact, some scientists argue it could be the first intelligent being on...
Venomous Box Jelly from South Carolina

Pinning Down the Jellyfish

Credit: Bastian Bentlage 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...
Coral Spawning by Moonlight

A Tale of Sex and Stress in the Ocean

A coral has just spawned. Each of the hundreds of polyps releases a small pink bundle of sperm and eggs. Credit: Raphael Williams Welcome to Citizens of the Sea , a new blog series...
Horseshoe Crab in Stage Harbor, Massachusetts

This Flu Season, Thank a Horseshoe Crab

A small horseshoe crab rests on seaweed in Stage Harbor, Massachusetts. Credit: © Luke Robinson (Creative Commons via Flickr) Fever. Aching muscles. Coughing. Sniffling. It’s flu season . Have you had your shot? If...

Hydrothermal Vent Creatures

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, hydrothermal vents are...

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