Today's Catch

Nov 30, 2015

Paulyn Cartwright et al. 2007 (PLOS ONE) Link

How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from the Cambrian period, more than 500 million years ago. It was found buried in Utah —an area that used to be underwater, covered by the ocean. Fossil jellyfish are rare because they have no bones or other hard parts to turn into fossils. Instead, scientists have to look for so-called "soft fossils," when organisms are quickly...Read more
Nov 25, 2015

Chuck Savall

The spotfin lionfish ( Pterois antennata ), with venomous spines extended, is native to Indo-Pacific reefs. Certain lionfish species have invaded reefs in Florida, the Caribbean and are moving up the Atlantic coast. The native Pacific fish probably escaped from an aquarium. Lionfish are aggressive predators and threaten local species. They are also referred to as turkeyfish because depending on...Read more
Nov 24, 2015

© Alexander Semenov Link

The Arctic comb jelly or sea nut ( Mertensia ovum ) is commonly found in the surface (top 50 meters) in cold, northern waters. Like other cydippid ctenophores, it has two tentacles fringed with smaller tentacles, which are dappled with colloblasts. Colloblasts are specialized cells that, upon contact with other organisms, act as a glue, allowing the comb jelly to pull the food to its mouth with...Read more
Nov 23, 2015

Rob Peatling, Flickr

Instead of females, male seahorses carry the developing seahorse embryos in a kangaroo-like pouch. During mating season, the female deposits her eggs into the pouch, and the male fertilizes them. After about two weeks of development, out pop the seahorse fry, ready to swim off and explore the ocean world. Here is a very pregnant short-snouted seahorse ( Hippocampus breviceps ) in Australia. Read...Read more
Nov 20, 2015
Penguins are odd birds. For one, they cannot fly (but they are amazing swimmers), and, contrary to popular belief, the majority of penguin populations live in warmer regions. Only four of the 18 penguin species regularly live and breed in frigid Antarctica; the rest live in sub-temperate to temperate regions, along the coasts or on islands in the Southern hemisphere. But these beloved birds are...Read more
Nov 19, 2015

Ari Friedlaender

Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaengliae ) can be found in Antarctic waters during the spring and summer in the Southern hemisphere, where they gorge on their main food source: tiny krill. How do they locate the small prey and maneuver their large bodies to eat? Scientists are looking at those questions and using different types of tags to learn more.Read more
Nov 17, 2015

Richard Wylie/Nature's Best Photography

Weedy seadragons ( Phyllopteryx taeniolatus ) are found off the coast of south and east Australia. Just like seahorses , the male seadragon is tasked with caring for its eggs. The bright pink eggs are placed by the female on a brood patch on the underside of the male where they are incubated and then hatch after about six weeks. “The male weedy seadragon is entrusted with the pink, fertilized...Read more
Nov 16, 2015

Howard J. Spero/University of California, Davis

This foraminifera was collected as it floated about 3 meters below the surface off the coast of Puerto Rico. The central dark area is the shell surrounded by spines. The tiny yellow dots are symbiotic algae, which live in the protoplasm of the host organism. When the foraminifer dies, the spines fall off and only the shell is preserved in the fossil record. Shell building animals like forams will...Read more
Nov 13, 2015

Seabird McKeon

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 see hints of the rich community that hides in the floating sargassum. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellow, Seabird McKeon, studies floating seaweeds and the...Read more
Nov 12, 2015

© Alexander Semenov Link

Stinging cells (nematocysts) line the tentacles of this moon jelly ( Aurelia aurita ). Upon contact with prey or a predator, a venom-laden harpoon shoots out to stun or kill. Read more about jellyfish anatomy in our jellyfish and comb jellies overview page .Read more