Today's Catch

Jun 17, 2013
Credit:

Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

These watercolor sketches of Trapezia crabs were drawn by Frederick Bayer, a former Smithsonian coral biologist, in 1947. Trapezia crabs live on and within corals, feeding on their tissue and mucus, and protect them from predators such as crown-of-thorns starfish . Bayer made these drawings in 1947, one year after the US military tested nuclear bombs on the coral reefs of Bikini Atoll in the...Read more
Jun 14, 2013
Illustrator Drew Christie created this light-hearted short film about how humans could really learn something from whales. Check it out and learn about all the different cetaceans and our commonalities, such as a shared love for vacations in Hawaii and music.Read more
Jun 13, 2013
Credit:

Smithsonian Institution

Like a cake, the ocean has different layers—each with its own characteristics. (No icing, though.) The surface layer receives the most sunlight, allowing photosynthetic organisms like phytoplankton to convert sunlight to energy. The twilight zone receives only faint, filtered sunlight, allowing no photosynthetic organisms to survive. Many animals have adapted to the near-darkness with large eyes...Read more
Jun 12, 2013
Credit:

Flickr user Paul Cowell

The sea's largest fish has been a mystery until recent decades. Thanks to electronic tags, researchers are uncovering some of the secrets of the whale shark ( Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828 ). One tagged animal, dubbed "Rio Lady," swam some 5,000 miles during a span of 150 days. Another dove to a depth of 6,324 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. These sharks are attracting scientists and tourists alike to...Read more
Jun 11, 2013
Credit:

Smithsonian Institution

Giant squid have the largest eye in the animal kingdom. At up to 10 inches in diameter, people often describe it as the size of a dinner plate -- or, in other words, as big as a human head. Here, National Museum of Natural History staffer Katie Velazco goes eye-to-eye with a preserved example from the Smithsonian's collection . Why do they need such big eyes? The deep ocean is so dark that bigger...Read more
Jun 10, 2013
Credit:

Carl Buell, http://carlbuell.com/

Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea picklingi , and Supayacetus muizoni . Smithsonian curator and paleobiologist Dr. Nicholas D. Pyenson was on the team that discovered the marine fossils in Peru's Pisco Basin...Read more
Jun 7, 2013
"We too are sea creatures," entreats ocean explorer Sylvia Earle in this beautiful short film, which calls for protecting the ocean and, in particular, for ending destructive fishing practices. It's estimated that we've lost on the order of 90% of many of the ocean's big fishes, such as tuna, sharks, and cod, through overfishing what was once considered a limitless resource. Today, people still...Read more
Jun 6, 2013
Credit:

NOAA

One of the biggest threats to sea turtles, such as the loggerhead turtle ( Caretta caretta ) pictured here, is being accidentally caught and killed in fishing nets. Trapped in a net, the turtles are dragged through the water with no access to the surface to breathe, causing them to drown. To address this problem, NOAA Fisheries worked with the shrimp trawling industry to install escape hatches...Read more
Jun 5, 2013
Credit:

Smithsonian Institution

How do right whales size up? North Atlantic Right whales ( Eubalaena glacialis ) are big, but they're not the biggest whales. That distinction goes to the Blue whale ( Balaenoptera musculus ), the largest animal on Earth. While the Orca, or Killer whale size of up to 31 feet make it the largest dolphin. The Sperm whale on the other hand may not be the biggest whale, but it has the biggest brain...Read more
Jun 4, 2013
Credit:

(c) 2004 Berkley White/Marine Photobank

Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill fish, is a practice used in many villages and isolated regions of the world. Hundreds of fish can be seen strewn across the reef, left as bycatch, such as these tropical fish in Thailand. Fishers are targeting larger, valuable species such as grouper which command a hefty price at the market—yet all the reef species pay the...Read more

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