Today's Catch

Apr 24, 2014
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Courtesy of Alexander Semenov, Flickr

This pair of sea butterflies ( Limacina helicina ) flutter not far from the ocean's surface in the Arctic. Sea butterflies are a type of sea snail, but instead of dragging themselves around the seafloor with a muscular foot, they flap their adapted feet like butterfly wings! They are very small—rarely exceeding 1 centimeter long—but very abundant in some areas of the Arctic Ocean, where they feed...Read more
Apr 23, 2014
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Deano Cook/Nature's Best Photography

At night this lemon shark ( Negaprion brevirostris ) lurks at the surface, but often during the day they will lie on the ocean bottom. This behavior had been thought to save them energy, but in reality it takes energy for the shark to push water over their gills while not moving. They may be lying still to be cleaned by small fish, like the wrasse. “As nightfall was approaching and the sun...Read more
Apr 22, 2014
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© David Liittschwager/National Geographic

Photographer David Liittschwager took a 12-inch metal frame to Moorea, French Polynesia, and four other disparate environments to see how much life he could find in one cubic foot. Read more about the project and ocean biodiversity .Read more
Apr 21, 2014
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Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections

The deep-sea dragonfish ( Stomiidae ), also called the barbeled dragonfish, uses it's fang-like teeth to grab prey in its deep-sea environment . Like other deep-sea organisms, dragonfish have bioluminescent photophores and other adaptations that allow them to make do at extreme depths. See a photo of a dragonfish jaw up-close , and see more photos of spectacular deep-sea animals .Read more
Apr 18, 2014
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Flickr user Rowland Cain

The sea hare gets its common name from its equivalent of nose and tongue—external sensory organs for smell and taste called rhinophores—which look like bunny ears. The sea hare, however, doesn't hop like a rabbit: it is a sea slug (an invertebrate in the gastropod (snail) taxonomic class) that glides around on its muscular foot. When threatened sea hares will release a cloud of ink, attempting to...Read more
Apr 17, 2014
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Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian

In the 19th century, "whalebone" was an important fashion tool—however, it wasn't made out of bone, but whale baleen . Dried baleen was flexible yet strong, and used to create structure in clothing, such as tight corsets, used by high-fashion women to present a curvy waistline, collars and hooped frames for skirts. Other products that used baleen included umbrella ribs, riding crops, buggy whips...Read more
Apr 16, 2014
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© Sandra Raredon/Smithsonian Institution

The distinctive form of a winghead shark ( Eusphyra blochii ) is revealed by an X-ray image. The Winghead Shark, one of about ten species of hammerhead sharks, has its eyes set at the tips of its wide, T-shaped head, giving it superb binocular vision. Scientists in the Division of Fishes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History use X-ray images, like the one shown, to study the...Read more
Apr 15, 2014
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Charles Viggers/Nature’s Best Photography

“Upon returning from the reef after a night dive, I swam toward a bright reflection and came eye-to-eye with this beautiful, curious squid," said Charles Viggers, a Nature's Best photographer. Squids have organs in their skin called chromatophores that reflect light and can change color to help them blend into their surroundings, attract mates—or attract photographers. They may not be as...Read more
Apr 14, 2014
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The Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary, courtesy of Igor Krupnik (NMNH)

To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all distinct. In fact, the Inupiaq have more than 100 names for different kinds of sea ice, illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf ( isavgalik ) rest on ice ( nunavait ) in the midst of scattered pack...Read more
Apr 11, 2014
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Marco Faasse, World Register of Marine Species

This ctenophore (a stingless jellyfish-like animal) is native to the east coast of North and South America. In 1982, it was discovered in the Black Sea, where it was transported by ballast water . It subsequently spread to the Caspian Sea. In both places it multiplied and formed immense populations. The sea walnuts contributed to the collapse of local fisheries because they feed on zooplankton...Read more

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