Today's Catch

Apr 3, 2014
Credit:

Flickr User Critidoc

This bait ball shows how small fish can react when larger predators are near by gathering tightly together in a ball-like formation that exposes the least number of fish. Fish species found in the open ocean are especially in need of some protection, as they don't have the cracks and crevices that fish in coastal or coral reef habitats have to hide away. Instead, they hide behind one another to...Read more
Apr 2, 2014
Credit:

Pamela Hallock/University of South Florida

In this photo of a shallow coral reef in the Pacific there are three species of forams . On the left, Peneroplis planatus . In the center, Amphistegina lessonii . And on the right, Laevipeneroplis sp. Their colors come from the symbiotic algae that live inside the foram shells. Just like corals, these forams are subject to bleaching when ocean temperatures get high enough to kill off the colorful...Read more
Mar 31, 2014
Credit:

© David Shale

This tiny, shrimplike creature is no more than 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) long, but it’s as ferocious as a shark. Its giant eyes spot prey. Huge claws grab the prey, and a tiny mouth rips it to shreds. The prey never sees what’s coming, because Phronima’s transparent body blends into the surrounding water. More about deep ocean exploration can be found in the Deep Ocean Exploration section .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 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

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