Today's Catch

Feb 19, 2015

Klaus Jost,

Scientists have been studying why populations of crown-of-thorns sea stars ( Acanthaster planci ) have mushroomed in recent decades. Coral reefs can suffer when the sea star's numbers explode because the echinoderm has a healthy appetite and few predators. And they are part of the reason why Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in decline .Read more
Feb 17, 2015
Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic algae (phytoplankton) to grow rapidly at the surface and, when the algae bloom in large enough numbers, the collection of tiny particles can actually block sunlight from reaching the seafloor. And this is...Read more
Feb 13, 2015

Bettina Balnis/Guylian Seahorses of the World 2010, Courtesy Project Seahorse

Most wild seahorses (here the thorny seahorse Hippocampus histrix ) are monogamous and some species mate for life. Searching for mates can be difficult and risky since seahorses are poor swimmers, found in low densities and rely on camouflage to hide from predators. By remaining faithful to one partner, the pairs have more time to undergo more pregnancies during a single mating season and,...Read more
Feb 12, 2015

Unknown/Turin Museum of Human Anatomy

This 1890 painting of Charles Darwin is on display at the Turin Museum of Human Anatomy. Darwin brought William Dampier’s books with him on the voyage to South America that led to Darwin’s formulation of the theory of evolution. He called Dampier’s detailed observations “a mine” of information. Read more about how Dampier influenced Darwin and other famous people.Read more
Feb 10, 2015

Ross Robertson

A candy basslet ( Liopropoma carmabi ) was just one of the specimens Smithsonian scientists collected from the deep reefs of Curaçao , in the southern Caribbean. To study biodiversity far below the water's surface, the researchers use a five-person submersible. Learn more about the scientists' research on the Ocean Portal's Summer in Sub Blog .Read more
Feb 9, 2015

© 2010 Moorea Biocode

Syllid fireworms are a part of the Syllidae family , which is a type of polychaete worm. Usually these small worms, not getting much bigger than 13 cm, live on the ocean floor. But when the worms mate, they move from their home on the sea bottom to the surface of the water and swim around in small circles. The females use bioluminescence to attract the males during this ritual that occurs around...Read more
Feb 6, 2015

Jeffrey de Guzman/Nature’s Best Photography

The veined octopus ( Amphioctopus marginatus ), also known as the coconut octopus, has a skill beyond other cephalopods: it hides under animal and coconut shells, dragging them along the seafloor for protection. This is one of the few examples—if not the only example—of tool use in invertebrates. Here, the octopus sits inside a vacant bivalve shell. “This octopus displays tool-using behavior as...Read more
Feb 3, 2015

Cameron McIntyre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

AUV Sentry is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that was used in the Gulf of Mexico directly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Researchers rushed to get to the Gulf as quickly as possible to learn what was happening to the deep water ecosystems found near the leaking wellhead. The AUV Sentry was deployed off of ships to map oil plumes and to search for hard bottom on the sea...Read more
Feb 2, 2015

David Clark

On the Galapagos Islands, William Dampier wrote excitedly of the giant tortoises he encountered: “I do believe there is no place in the world that is so plentifully stored with these animals….” This photo was taken at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. No longer plentiful, the Galapagos tortoise is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List for...Read more
Jan 30, 2015

K. Raskoff, Monterey Peninsula College, Arctic Exploration 2002, NOAA

Chrysaora melanaster , one of the largest jellyfish commonly found in the Arctic, swims underneath the Arctic ice . Its tentacles can stretch to more than 3 meters long and pack a mean sting for humans.Read more