Today's Catch

Jul 22, 2015

© Annie Crawley

Plastic does not biodegrade; it photodegrades, which means that sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces. These bits of plastic and plankton were collected during a 3:00 am manta net tow, and are just a sample of the plankton-like plastic pieces collected on every trawl in the gyre. If you were a fish, you could not tell the difference between plankton (your natural food source)...Read more
Jul 21, 2015

New England Aquarium

A close up view of Phoenix and the rough patches of skin known as callosities that are found on all North Atlantic right whales . These callosities are inhabited by small amphipods called whale lice and they can be used to identify an individual right whale much like fingerprints. More about the right whale can be found in our Tale of a Whale featured story .Read more
Jul 20, 2015

Texas A&M University

This deep-sea black coral from Hawaii ( Leiopathes sp. ) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the external tissues of black corals come in many bright colors. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."Read more
Jul 17, 2015

Stacy Jupiter

Giant clams are one of the many wonders of coral reefs. They can grow up to five feet wide, weigh over 400 pounds, and live for 100 years! They power all that bulk by filter feeding microbes and particles from the water, siphoning hundreds of gallons of water per day. Like corals, they also have a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae that live in the fleshy part...Read more
Jul 14, 2015

Chuck Savall

Munch, munch. The queen parrotfish ( Scarus vetula ) scrapes algae from Caribbean coral reefs with its parrot-like beak. While feeding, hard stone and coral inevitably get mixed into its lunch, which in turn gets ground up by the fish and deposited back into the ecosystem as sand. This fish is an adult male. But when young, parrotfish have the ability to change sex, depending on the population’s...Read more
Jul 13, 2015

©2003 MBARI

Riftia tubeworm ( Riftia pachyptila ) colonies grow where hot, mineral-laden water flows out of the seafloor in undersea hot springs—such as the Guymas Basin of the Gulf of California at 2,000 meters (6562 feet), where MBARI took this photo. As volcanic activity deep below the seafloor changes, sometimes these hot springs stop flowing. In this case, the entire worm colony may die off. But new hot...Read more
Jul 10, 2015

© Brian Skerry,

The shortfin mako shark ( Isurus oxyrinchus) is found offshore in tropical and warm temperate waters of all oceans, but has been known to travel to cooler waters at times. It is very strong and the fastest known species of shark, reaching moving speeds of 31 mph (50 kph) with bursts up to 46 mph! These qualities make the shortfin mako a prized catch among recreational fisherman. The mako is also...Read more
Jul 8, 2015

© Jeff Rotman/

This photo of a freshly cut dorsal fin from a scalloped hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna lewini ) , was taken in 2006 on a long-lined fishing boat in Cocos Island, 300 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Cocos was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the home to one of the world's richest shark populations. It has also become a major target for long-lined shark fishing. Every year,...Read more
Jul 7, 2015
Credit:© Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution
The smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark ( Etmopterus perryi ) is smaller than a human hand. It's rarely seen and little is known about it, having only been observed a few times off the northern tip of South America at depths between 283–439 meters (928–1,440 feet). The specimen pictured here was discovered in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia in 1985 at a depth of 290 m (950 ft). Like...Read more
Jul 6, 2015

Flickr User Telemachus

Sharks have young in three different ways. After internal fertilization, some species lay a thick egg case that encloses the shark embryo (seen in the photo here). Most species are ovoviviparous, which means that the shark hatches and develops within the female shark and is born live. A third way (viviparous) is similar to human development, where the young shark grows within the female and gets...Read more