Today's Catch

Apr 23, 2014

Deano Cook/Nature's Best Photography

At night this lemon shark ( Negaprion brevirostris ) lurks at the surface, but often during the day they will lie on the ocean bottom. This behavior had been thought to save them energy, but in reality it takes energy for the shark to push water over their gills while not moving. They may be lying still to be cleaned by small fish, like the wrasse. “As nightfall was approaching and the sun...Read more
Apr 16, 2014

© Sandra Raredon/Smithsonian Institution

The distinctive form of a winghead shark ( Eusphyra blochii ) is revealed by an X-ray image. The Winghead Shark, one of about ten species of hammerhead sharks, has its eyes set at the tips of its wide, T-shaped head, giving it superb binocular vision. Scientists in the Division of Fishes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History use X-ray images, like the one shown, to study the...Read more
Apr 14, 2014

The Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary, courtesy of Igor Krupnik (NMNH)

To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all distinct. In fact, the Inupiaq have more than 100 names for different kinds of sea ice, illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf ( isavgalik ) rest on ice ( nunavait ) in the midst of scattered pack...Read more
Mar 17, 2014

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
Feb 18, 2014

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

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

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

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
Dec 27, 2013

© Glenn Loates

An adult giant squid struggles for survival in an encounter with a sperm whale - its only known predator. The whale will probably overpower and eat the squid. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid section .Read more
Dec 10, 2013
Imagine if a fish at the market could tell you where it came from; what would it say? "I came from a world of drifters," says one fish in this video. The world of drifters is the world of zooplankton . Many zooplankton, like the fish, are tiny embryos and recently-hatched larvae that will grow into much bigger fish, squids, clams, crabs, worms, corals, starfish, and other organisms. Some, like...Read more