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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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From the giant squid to microscopic squid babies, squids are beautiful and...
Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been...
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Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many...

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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 not safe from this hungry...
A huge colony of brittlestars (likely Ophiacantha rosea ) covers the peak of...
This copepod Calanus hyperboreus (up to 7mm in length) lives in the Arctic...

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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...
An octopus shoots ink in defense as it swims away from a scuba diver.
This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the external tissues of black corals come in many...
Even on an early winter morning, it was sunny and warm in southern Florida. This was great because, regardless of the weather, Dr. Jon Norenburg and I were going to walk chest-deep into the water to...
The dumbo octopus ( Grimpoteuthis ) is a deep sea animal that lives on the ocean floor at extreme depths of 9,800 to 13,000 feet. They are small animals, around 8 inches tall, and have a pair of fins...
This photo shows just a small part of the cephalopod collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Shown here is Dr. Clyde Roper , a zoologist and squid expert. More about the...
Squids come in a wide range of sizes but despite differences in size and shape, all work basically the same way inside. More about the giant squid can be found in the Giant Squid section .
The blue crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) is one of the most important commercial species in the United States, especially in the Chesapeake Bay region on the Mid-Atlantic coast. Its populations are...
The long silver tool shown here is a piece of traditional Australian fishing gear called a “yabbie pump.” Researchers use the device to collect burrowing shrimp and other fast-moving animals from the...
This forest of Christmas tree worms is a group of polychaete worms that live on tropical coral reefs. See more celebratory ocean creatures in our slideshow!
This 200-year-old bamboo coral colony is growing on the Davidson Seamount off the coast of California. The skeleton of this deep-sea coral has bamboo-like segments. See more pictures of coral in our...
Swimming by a black sea nettle may be a bit of a shock. These large jellyfish can grow to be over three feet in diameter, and their tentacles can be over 25 feet long. Despite their large size, much...
These Pacific cephalopods illustrate the wide diversity among this group of mollusks. You can learn about a relative, the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux ), in our Giant Squid section.
Some of the most otherworldly animals—like those straight from a science fiction story—can be seen in the open ocean at night. By drifting in the blackwater in a scuba suit just under the surface,...
Male fiddler crabs each have a single super-sized claw that they use as a weapon to threaten and fight other males and as beautiful adornment to attract females. Here, see a video of two male dancing...
This new species of deep-water sea cucumber ( Elpidia belyaevi ) was discovered by Census of Marine Life researchers in the frigid waters of the Arctic . Since the 1800s, researchers observed sea...
A veined octopus ( Amphioctopus marginatus ) briefly leaves its hiding spot, a seafloor shell, to devour a crab.
In 1874 Reverend Moses Harvey of Newfoundland displayed the giant squid he bought on the side of his barn, much to the dismay of Mrs. Harvey. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant...
This halimeda crab’s disguise did not fool researchers in Moorea where it was collected. These crabs cover themselves with the green algae of halimeda for camouflage.
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