Today's Catch

Apr 17, 2014
Credit:

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
Credit:

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
Credit:

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
Apr 10, 2014
Credit:

Justin Hofman/Nature's Best Photography

The largest of all seal species, the southern elephant seal ( Mirounga leonina ) is found in chilly Antarctic and Subantarctic waters. The male seals dive as deep as 1,430 meters (over 4,600 feet) and stay at depth for up to two hours. “The southern elephant seal is a truly restrained behemoth. Males can grow to be five times larger than females, up to 5,000 pounds. This elephant seal may look...Read more
Apr 9, 2014
Credit:

Jessica Goodheart

This nudibranch has a few tricks up its sleeve: it steals jellyfish tentacles to use as weapons again its own enemies. How does it do this? Many fleshy, tentacle-like growths, called cerata (singular: ceras), project off its back. After the nudibranch eats the tentacles of a jellyfish, anemone, coral, or other stinging animal, the stolen stinging cells pass through the digestive gland, which is...Read more
Apr 8, 2014
Credit:

NOAA/OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

A beroid ctenophore lunges toward prey with its mouth wide open. Beroid comb jellies don't have tentacles to catch prey: instead, they can open their mouths and snap them shut tight to trap prey inside. And one of their main prey items is other jellies—one species ( Beroe cucumis ) feeds exclusively on them !Read more
Apr 7, 2014
Credit:

Jérôme Petit, Moorea Biocode Project

Cooks Bay in Moorea is one of the places that researchers are scouring in their quest to collect one of every life form big enough to pick up with tweezers. In the background is Mt. Rotui—the Tahitian word for octopus. More about the Island of Moorea can be found in our Scientists catalog life on the Island of Moorea featured story .Read more
Apr 4, 2014
Credit:

Jiro Sakaue

The Palauan primitive cave eel ( Protanguilla palau ) has an evolutionary history that dates back some 200 million years . Because of this and the fact that it has retained some primitive features, scientists are recognizing it as a 'living fossil.' A Japanese research diver, Jiro Sakaue, found the first specimen in February 2009, in a cave of a reef near the Republic of Palau. After extensive...Read more

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