Today's Catch

The Smithsonian Marine Collections

A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
Spotfin lionfish in Caribbean waters

Spotfin Lionfish

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...
Notice the pink tentacles, which “recliners” used to filter feed.

Recliner Rudists

Where ocean currents were strong, ancient rudist “recliners” lay unattached on the seabed. Notice the pink tentacles, which were used to filter feed. Learn more about ocean life throughout deep time in our Ocean Over Time interactive or an image...
Juvenile plane-head filefish

Juvenile plane-head filefish

Relatively slow moving, juvenile plane-head filefish Monacanthus hispidus (Monacanthidae) travel along with the algae. They pick off and eat small animals as they move around in the rotating sargassum ball. Adult filefish only grow to be about 11...

Johnson's Seagrass

Johnson's seagrass ( Halophila johnsonii ) is the lone ocean plant species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Its flowing green stalks play an important role in coastal ecosystems, where they act as nursery grounds for small larval fish. They...

Short-tailed Albatross

In the 1940s the short-tailed albatross population plummeted from tens of millions to such a small number that they were believed to be extinct. Their decline was due to hunting for their feathers and damage to their breeding islands from volcanic...
The eel-like Atlantic hagfish being measured out of water.

Pacific Hagfish

The Pacific hagfish ( Eptatretus stoutii ), a fish that looks similar to an eel, has no jaw and is totally blind. They find food, often dead fish, through a specialized sense of smell and, because they can absorb nutrients through their skin, can...

Sea Hare in the Intertidal Zone

The sea hare gets its common name from its equivalent of nose and tongue—external sensory organs for smell and taste called rhinophores—which look like bunny ears. The sea hare, however, doesn't hop like a rabbit: it is a sea slug (an invertebrate...
Illustration of a four-legged proto-whale with webbed feet.

Early Whale with Webbed Feet

This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also may have spent time on land. An ancestor of the right whale , Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and webbed feet, like modern seals. But it also had ankle...
Flame shells live in enormous colonies, but hidden in nests.

Orange-Tentacled Flame Shell

A colony of 100 million flame shells ( Limaria hians ) was discovered in Scotland in 2012 , and is thought to be the biggest in the world. Flame shells are bivalve mollusks that are shaped a bit like scallops—but they have bright orange tentacles...

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