Ocean Life & Ecosystems

From the tiny to the titanic, from the familiar to the undiscovered, the ocean offers a stunning diversity of marine life and nearly every kind of habitat imaginable. Dive in and explore them here.

LATEST POSTS

This recently discovered hairy crab species (Kiwa hirsuta) has no eyes.

DIVE DEEPER

The Census of Marine Life

Did you know that over 17,000 species thrive in the deep sea where no light penetrates the ocean waves? Or that an old...
A scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) at Isla del Coco, Costa Rica.

The Spin on Sharks

A scalloped hammerhead shark at Isla del Coco, Costa Rica. Credit: © Terry Goss 2008/Marine Photobank Starting this Sunday, August 1st, the fins will be circling on a television near you. Sunday kicks off...

Census of Marine Life Video Release

As 10 years of intensive research draw to a close, the Census of Marine Life has released the most comprehensive inventory of life in the ocean to date. This landmark collection of scientific papers...

Creature Feature from the Census of Marine Life

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...

A Mosaic of Ocean Habitats: A Video by National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life

From the open ocean to coastal tidepools, from the fantastic to the familiar, a mosaic of marine habitats provides homes, feeding and spawning grounds, and seasonal destinations for ocean species. Census of Marine Life...
Deep-sea dragonfish from Australia

Census of Marine Life: Wild and Wonderful Creatures

The Census of Marine Life was a ten-year effort by scientists from around the world to answer the age-old question, “What lives in the sea?” The international effort to asses the diversity, distribution, and...
a marine iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus

Marine Iguanas: One Species at a Time

No iguana wants to be cooked alive on a hot rock and then served up as dinner for a Galapagos hawk. But it turns out the marine iguanas ( Amblyrhynchus cristatus ) have a...
Coral Head Near Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Hawaii

World Heritage Goes Marine

A rainbow of tropical fish hovers over a coral head near the Pearl and Hermes Atoll, part of the Papahānaumokuākea World Heritage Site. Credit: Louiz Rocha Last week, the United Nations’ World Heritage Convention...

Clyde Roper: Squid Hunter - Eyeball to Eyeball

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 television...

Clyde Roper: Squid Hunter - Architeuthis

Dr. Clyde Roper recounts the tale of his encounter with a giant squid specimen ( Architeuthis dux) that was found washed up on a Massachusetts beach in this excerpt from "Eyeball to Eyeball," an...
Caribbean boulder star coral (Montastrea cavernosa)

Star of the Reef: One Species at a Time

Each month, the Naked Oceans podcast invites a leading marine researcher to pick the "critter of the month" by asking: if you were a marine organism, which one would you be? This month, Dr...
Pile of Plastic Trash

Plastic Trash Plagues the Ocean

Plastic pollution in the ocean is a serious problem. Our flotsam can choke, entangle, or kill marine life and is dangerous to humans as well. Credit: Onno Groß, DEEPWAVE Once upon a time, the...

Forces of Change in the Ocean

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the Earth and is essential to all life. But forces of change, from overfishing to climate change, are affecting the ocean and humanity's relationship with it...
A variety of organisms make their home on this tropical coral reef in Indonesia.

Coral Reefs Need You

A variety of organisms make their home on this tropical coral reef in Indonesia. Credit: © Chris Newbert/Minden Pictures For those of you who have had the opportunity to visit a coral reef ,...
A piece of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit.

When Art Meets Science: The Hyberbolic Crochet Coral Reef

The stunning Smithsonian Community Reef—an accompaniment to the main Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit created by local crafters. Credit: Rebecca Bray/Smithsonian Institution The “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef,” a unique exhibition and thought-provoking fusion of...

Shark Fin Genetics

Dr. Demian Chapman of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at New York’s Stony Brook University explains how DNA extraction from shark fins can identify the species of shark and where the shark was...
A red deep-sea fish specimen.

Meet the Suspects

More than a century ago, in 1895, two Smithsonian scientists described a new kind of deep sea creature living at least 1000 m (3,280 ft) below the ocean’s surface— a part of the ocean...
a bowhead whale and her calf, seen from above

Bowhead Whale: One Species at a Time

In the episode of One Species at a Time , writer Karen Romano Young takes an icebreaker to Barrow, Alaska, to join in the festival of Naluqatak and learn about the intimate relationship between...
This aptly named fish has two long fangs.

Creepy Critters: Marine Life Surfaces for Halloween

Claws, spines, spikes, tentacles, and fangs. Aliens, monsters, and ghostly apparitions glowing in the night. Marine life forms have some of the best looks for Halloween—no costumes needed. From freaky fish lurking beneath the...

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