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Often it's the tiniest organisms that do the most harm. One example is microscopic algae, which can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms . Such blooms (some are called "red tides") create unhealthy...
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Over the past several decades, Florida’s coastal wetlands have been changing...
“Sea grapes” may sound like something Poseidon would snack on, and not a killer...
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The open ocean is surprisingly barren to the naked eye. Every now and again you...

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This beautiful bromeliad, also called an air plant because it gets its nutrients and water from the air, is a flowering plant in the pineapple family. All of them are epiphytes, meaning they get their support from and grow on...
Sargassum fluitans , a.k.a. “Gulfweed,” forms dense clumps up to the size of...
Many species of pink coralline algae cover a reef surface in the Southern...

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Around 100 million years ago, grass from land adapted to live and reproduce while submerged in seawater—the modern-day...
An invasive strain of the plant Phragmites australis dominates this Chesapeake Bay wetland. The plant can easily grow up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) tall and alter coastal ecosystems. Scientists at the...
Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic...
Sargassum fluitans , a.k.a. “Gulfweed,” forms dense clumps up to the size of a beach ball that slowly rotate as they drift. The fronds are quite dense, but if you look carefully, sometimes you can...
The bright, brilliant swirls of blue and green seen from space are a phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. Phytoplankton can bloom like this, rapidly growing and reproducing, because of a sudden...
How do you explain a scientific paper in three minutes or less? What if you were being judged by a bunch of middle-schoolers in classrooms around the world… and you only had a month to do it? The...
Seagrasses don't just provide shelter for free-swimming animals, but also are a habitat for non-moving organisms, such as this sea anemone. Sessile animals attached to blades are called epibionts,...
Most people try to avoid rotting kelp at the beach. The feeling of a floating piece of seaweed wrapping around an ankle is enough to shake even the most steeled swimmer, and then there's the strong...
Broad-leaf seagrass ( Posidonia australis ) with algae epiphytes grows at Corner Inlet Marine National Park in Australia . The marine park protects large areas of seagrass habitat from fishing—but it...
The invasive reed Phragmites australis can create new plants through seeds (shown here) or underground rhizomes. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have discovered that seeds...
Bacteria are everywhere in the ocean. They live in the water, on virtually every living and non-living surface, and even inside other organisms . There are 1 million bacterial cells in every...
In the ocean, microscopic forms of algae, known as dinoflagellates , can "bloom" into dense patches near the surface, often referred to as "red tides." Some of these harmful algal blooms (HABs) are...
As Dampier studied the plants he encountered in Australia, he wrote that they were “for the most part unlike any I had seen elsewhere.” In fact, nearly all the plants Dampier observed were entirely...
Many species of pink coralline algae cover a reef surface in the Southern Line Islands. Often unnoticed, these pink algae crusts help to cement coral reefs together, providing extra support and...
Adult green sea turtles ( Chelonia mydas ) spend most of their time grazing in seagrass meadows. It's estimated that before Columbus arrived in America in 1492, the number of green turtles supported...
Around 100 million years ago, grass from land adapted to live and reproduce while submerged in seawater—the modern-day seagrasses. This sea invasion by land plants happened four separate times,...
Macroscopic algae ( Ventricaria ventricosa ), also known as "bubble algae" or "sea pearl," is widespread algal species that can withstand low light. Each of the bubbles is a single cell, making it...
Seagrass meadows, such as this one composed of turtle grass ( Thalassia testudinum ) and manatee grass ( Syringodium filiforme ), are an important shallow water habitat. Hundreds of animal species,...
Even though the Amazon River and the ocean seem very different—the river is freshwater while the ocean is salty, the ocean is vast and deep compared to the Amazon—they are closely connected. The...
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