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Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been dying in large numbers—and not gracefully. As their tissues collapse, the starfish (also called sea stars) start to look stretched and...
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Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many...
I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since 1966...
Collect, sort, identify, photograph, sample, record. Repeat a couple thousand...

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Discovering new species is an exciting quest, right? Well, some parts are—but after you find a cool-looking organism that you think is a new species, there's a lot more to be done. You have to confirm that it's new, write a...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the...
The blue crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) is one of the most important...

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Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...

The Ocean Blog

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...
A mangrove tree crab ( Aratus pisonii ) clings to a leaf near the Smithsonian Institution’s marine laboratory on Galeta Island, Panama, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute . During...
The larger of two giant squids on display in the Smithsonian's Sant Ocean Hall , this female was caught in a fisherman's net off the coast of Spain in 2005. It was probably 2-3 years old and, when...
From parrotfish that cover themselves in a blanket of their own mucus to tiny pygmy sea horses, there are some bizarre sea creatures that live in coral reefs . In this slideshow you can explore some...
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...
An octopus shoots ink in defense as it swims away from a scuba diver.
Last week, Smithsonian research zoologists Dr. Jerry Harasewych and Dr. Martha Nizinski were in Curaçao looking for deep-sea marine gastropods and decapod crustaceans , respectively. I learned they...
How do you get two dead Giant Squid the size of a school bus from a fishing boat in Spain to Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.? Call in the U.S. Navy! In this...
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...
A specimen from the Smithsonian’s squid collection and videos of a mystery squid helped scientists identify a new family of deep sea squid—the Magnapinnidae, known as the bigfin squids. More about...
How many animals swim in the sea? It's not easy to count them all. To get a feel for the ocean's diversity, scientists, such as those involved in the Census of Marine Life , sail out on research...
The whitish spots on this fish are individual parasitic trematode worms. Trematodes have complicated life cycles that usually involve multiple hosts -- often starting in a snail and then moving on to...
The island of Moorea is a natural laboratory for scientists on a quest to catalog every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers. Head out into the field and watch as researchers use cutting-...
A colony of 100 million flame shells ( Limaria hians ) was discovered in Scotland in 2012 , and is thought to be the biggest in the world. Flame shells are bivalve mollusks that are shaped a bit like...
Comb jellies (such as this Bolinopsis species) are named for their combs: the rows of cilia lining their bodies that propel them through the ocean. Read more about jellyfish and comb jellies .
Many jellyfish in the class Hydrozoa, such as this hydromedusa Aglantha digitale , are transparent and easily overlooked. Learn more about hydrozoan jellies and other jellyfish , and see more...
Squids, octopuses and cuttlefish, such as this Australian Giant Cuttlefish ( Sepia apama ), compose just one group of animals that call seagrass beds home. Clams and worms bury themselves in the mud...
“Lembeh Strait is a fantastic place to find species that have evolved to resemble other animals or plants to survive. Because of the lens I was using, I had to get really close to this crab. As I...
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