Today's Catch

Aug 19, 2014
Credit:

© 2004 Smithsonian Institution

This beautiful bromeliad, also called an air plant because it gets its nutrients and water from the air, is a flowering plant in the pineapple family. All of them are epiphytes, meaning they get their support from and grow on other plants. Many are found in mangrove forests, such as this one making house on a mangrove root. It's not known whether they provide any benefit to the trees, but when...Read more
Aug 18, 2014
How will changes in temperature affect glaciers and ice sheets? Dr. Sarah Das from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores this phenomenon first hand in Greenland, where she studies how the melted ice travels through glaciers and out to the sea. Learn more about climate change .Read more
Aug 15, 2014
Credit:

Brian Skerry

"Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year, often only for their fins. I have wrestled with how to take pictures of dead sharks that resonate with readers. One morning, I jumped into the sea in Mexico and swam along a gillnet, where I found a thresher shark that had recently died in the net. As I composed the frame, the scene struck me as a crucifixion. Finally I had an image that would...Read more
Aug 14, 2014
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
Aug 13, 2014
Credit:

Mark Harris, Flickr

A thresher shark’s long tail fin helps not only its swimming ability, but also its ability to hunt. It can use the fin to herd and trap schooling fish by swimming in increasingly smaller circles before striking the fish with its tail. This strike usually assails from above instead of sideways, a rare technique on the shark’s part that allows them to stun multiple fish at a time. Most carnivorous...Read more
Aug 12, 2014
A Greenland shark photographed in the St. Lawrence Estuary, near Baie-Comeau, Quebec
Credit:

Jeffrey Gallant, GEERG, www.geerg.ca

Scientists know the Greenland shark ( Somniosus microcephalus ) moves slowly in the Arctic's cold water. They also know that parasites attack the shark's eyes. But much about this animal remains a mystery. Marine biologist Greg Skomal says that's because the Greenland shark spends most of the year living under 6 feet of Arctic ice . Skomal works for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries...Read more
Aug 11, 2014
Credit:

Citron, Wikimedia Commons

Is it an enormous eel? No—it's a shark! The frilled shark is named for its strange appearance , including a snakelike body, three pronged teeth, and gills that give the impression of a frilly collar. However, this collar does not mean these sharks are dainty eaters. Even though their feeding behavior is yet to be observed, some scientists believe that their flexible jaws could allow them to...Read more
Aug 8, 2014
Sharks face many threats from people, including extreme overfishing driven by high prices for their fins, and being caught by mistake in nets and on longlines. While there is still much work to be done to conserve sharks, take a moment to recognize the work already being done in communities around the world to protect these fascinating and beautiful animals. In this video, see how the number of...Read more
Aug 7, 2014
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run into its tentacles. But this video "Slow Life" by marine scientist Daniel Stoupin reveals the unseen world of "unmoving" animals coral reefs—unseen because they move too slowly for us to grasp. With their movements sped up and...Read more
Aug 5, 2014
Credit:

NOAA Marine Debris Program

The “garbage patches,” as referred to in the media, are areas of marine debris concentration in the North Pacific Ocean, circulated by the North Pacific gyre. The gyre spreads across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the western US, and north-south from California to Hawaii. Its total size isn't well defined because there are numerous factors that affect the location, size, and strength currents...Read more

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