Today's Catch

Mar 28, 2014
Credit:

Hans Hillewaert

The whitish spots on this fish are individual parasitic trematode worms. Trematodes have complicated life cycles that usually involve multiple hosts -- often starting in a snail and then moving on to other hosts, such as fish, birds, and mammals (including humans). They may have even lived in dinosaurs ! Read more about parasites in marine organisms .Read more
Mar 27, 2014
Credit:

Bob Nicholls/Bristol University

Today, filter feeders like clams, sponges, krill, baleen whales, fishes, and many others fill the ocean, spending their days filtering and eating tiny particles from the water. But when did the first filter feeder evolve? The first known filter feeder is a large shrimp-like creature called Tamisiocaris borealis . This species is an anomalocarid, a group of early marine animals from the Cambrian...Read more
Mar 26, 2014
Credit:

Zhifei Zhang et al.Link

For a long time, scientists thought that some small tentacled fossils were early ancestors of jellyfish. But a new study has found that these ancient animals are actually related to an entirely different group of animals : the entoprocts, which are still alive today. The new fossil ( Cotyledion tylodes ) lived during the Cambrian period (around 520 million years ago), along with the ancestors of...Read more
Mar 24, 2014
Credit:

Wikimedia User “Fisherman”

Buyers examine tuna lining the floor of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan. Ounce per ounce, tuna is one of the most valuable varieties of seafood. In 2012, a single 593lb bluefin tuna sold for $736,000 in a Japanese market. Not surprisingly, populations of bluefin tunas have declined to very low levels, and the species is listed as endangered .Read more
Mar 17, 2014
Credit:

George Cathcart

"Fronds of giant kelp, buoyed by their gas-filled pneumatocysts, wave like pennants in the current of Monterey Bay, California," wrote George Cathcart of his image , a winning selection in the Portraits of Planet Ocean Flickr contest . Giant kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera ) is large, brown algae that grows in dense forests along coasts around the world. Long stalks anchor each plant to the seafloor...Read more
Mar 11, 2014
Credit:

HBOI

These cancer cells have been treated with discodermolide, a chemical obtained from a sponge that grows on deep-sea coral reefs. It prevents the cells from dividing and spreading. Learn more about deep-sea corals in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea " and about drugs from sea creatures in our conversation with Dr. Shirley Pomponi .Read more
Feb 18, 2014
Credit:

Robert L. Pitman, NOAA Fisheries, USA

Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) have something in common with humans: early menopause. Read Smithsonian marine scientist Nancy Knowlton's blog post to find out more.Read more
Feb 4, 2014
Credit:

David Burdick/NOAA Photo Library

A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.Read more
Feb 3, 2014
Credit:

Seabird McKeon

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 inches long. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellow, Seabird McKeon, studies floating seaweeds and the...Read more
Jan 22, 2014
Credit:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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 activity. Keeping track of these migratory birds can be difficult. They nest and breed on islands off of Japan and then fly to the west coast of the...Read more

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