Today's Catch

Mar 28, 2013
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Gray reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos ) are known for being active at night. They are considered Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List due to fishing and the loss of their coral reef habitat. The sinister animal, with its sleek body, can be quite aggressive when directly threatened. “It was shaping up to be a bad night dive when my mask broke and I was forced to come up early. The others...Read more
Mar 26, 2013
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Tectitethya crypta (formerly known as Cryptotheca crypta ) is a large, shallow-water sponge found in the Caribbean. It was first studied for medical purposes in the 1950s when few scientists or doctors thought to look for medicines in the ocean. But in the sponge, scientists isolated two chemicals — aptly named spongothymidine and spongouridine — which were used as models for the development of a...Read more
Mar 17, 2013
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This sea potato ( Echinocardium cordatum ) looks similar to its root vegetable namesake, but it's a sea urchin! The spines on this urchin are more hair-like than the spikes seen on some more commonly known urchins, and they lay flat across the urchin's body. They can be found buried in the sediments of the sea floor. In their burrow they separate themselves from the sand and mud with a layer of...Read more
Mar 14, 2013
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The over 1,000 species of ribbon worms ( Nemertea ) are mostly found in marine environments (like the Hubrechtia found in a mud flat, in the photo). These worms have both a mouth and an anus (unlike flatworms, which use the same opening for both ingesting and removing their food). Some species are centimeters long, like the ones that Smithsonian scientists searched for in Florida , while others,...Read more
Jan 25, 2013
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In 2012, the long-elusive giant squid was finally filmed live in its natural habitat. The squid was found by placing glowing lures outside of a submersible to mimic jellyfish, which typically indicate to the squid that food is nearby. Before this encounter, the giant squid had never been observed in its natural environment, and the only film had been taken of a squid caught on a hook and brought...Read more
Jan 14, 2013
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I. MacDonald, FSU, Arctic Exploration 2002, NOAA

Polar bears have evolved to survive in the Arctic with large, oar-like front paws for better swimming, as well as insulating blubber, and two layers of fur for the frigid temperatures. They rely on pack ice, traveling thousands of miles in a year looking for food (mostly ringed and bearded seals, although they hunt other animals if they come across them). Polar bears are listed as threatened by...Read more
Dec 31, 2012
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©Mason Weinrich, Whale Center of New England

A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a giant sieve to catch the whale's food. Strong but flexible, baleen is made of the same substance as your fingernails - keratin. Discover more about this species in A Tale of A Whale , a photo essay...Read more
Dec 28, 2012
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The pinecone fish ( Monocentris japonicus ) looks like the real thing on land—covered in large scales with a dark trim. They are found lurking in caves and under ledges in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, and are a popular aquarium fish.Read more
Dec 26, 2012
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These candy cane snapping shrimp ( Alpheus randalli ) have a pretty nice set up. They share their living space with goby fish, helping the fish dig and maintain the burrow that they share in the seafloor. In turn the small, and mostly blind, shrimp (seen in this photo below the goby) get protection from predators in the form of alerts from the goby and a place to call home.Read more
Dec 25, 2012
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This forest of Christmas tree worms is a group of polychaete worms that live on tropical coral reefs. See more celebratory ocean creatures in our slideshow!Read more

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