Today's Catch

Nov 16, 2012

©1999 MBARI

The dumbo octopus ( Grimpoteuthis ) is a deep sea animal that lives on the ocean floor at extreme depths of 9,800 to 13,000 feet. They are small animals, around 8 inches tall, and have a pair of fins located on their mantle—their namesake—and webbing between their arms. Grimpoteuthis swim often hover just above the seafloor looking for snails, worms, and other food. Watch rare (and beautiful)...Read more
Nov 15, 2012

Jeff Dawson

The feathery strands at the back of this nudibranch’s ( Chromodoris willani ) body are no mere adornment: they’re its gills! Nudibranchs, shell-less snails or sea slugs, are named for these tufted gills, as "nudibranch" comes from Latin and Greek words meaning "naked gills." They're known for their bright coloration , and this species, found in Western Pacific Ocean coral reefs , ranges from dark...Read more
Nov 9, 2012

Courtesy of Danielle Dixson, Georgia Institute of Technology

One of the first signs of a sick coral reef is seaweed creeping across the corals, stealing their precious sunny real estate. Healthy corals, however, aren't completely hopeless: in some reefs, small fishes, such as this broad-barred goby ( Gobiodon histrio ), help eat the seaweeds away. But how do corals contact the fish to ask for cleaning services? By sending out a chemical signal .Read more
Oct 26, 2012


What do you get when you mix together a hurricane, the remnants of a wintry midwestern storm, and cold Arctic air? The " Frankenstorm ," which is what the US National Weather Service renamed Hurricane Sandy as it approached the US east coast during the week before Halloween in 2012. The combination of strange weather conditions may result in a powerful storm not unlike a nor'easter, with powerful...Read more
Oct 24, 2012

David Maitland / Nikon Small World

Coral sand is aptly named: it's sand made up of tiny bits of coral and other ocean animals such as foraminifera , molluscs, and crustaceans. This image, taken at 100x zoom, took 18th place in the 2012 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.Read more
Oct 19, 2012

Devin Harvey/Marine Photobank

Red coral necklaces fill a store display window. The United States annually imports around one million live coral animals from tropical reefs for use in aquariums, and is the largest documented consumer of precious red coral, commonly used in jewelry, according to a 2008 SeaWeb report ( PDF ). Harvesting coral to produce jewelry like this threatens all coral reefs , including deep-sea corals .Read more
Oct 16, 2012

K. Raskoff, Monterey Peninsula College, Hidden Ocean 2005, NOAA

Many expeditions in the Arctic reveal new species, such as this jellyfi sh Bathykorus bouilloni , which, strangely, has only four tentacles! Dr. Kevin Raskoff from California State University, Monterey Bay first captured one in the deep Arctic in 2002 and thought it was rare. But when he returned in 2005 with NOAA and the Census of Marine Life , he and his crew found themselves in a swarm of the...Read more
Oct 15, 2012

© Clyde F.E. Roper

This close-up photo shows the tough, serrated ring around the opening of a giant squid sucker. The ring is made of chitin—the same material that’s in your fingernails. Using suction, the sucker tightly grips the squid’s prey. The ring digs into the skin of the giant squid’s only predator—the sperm whale—leaving its mark behind. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid featured...Read more
Oct 5, 2012

E. Widder, ORCA,

Glowing photophores are visible on this midwater squid ( Abralia veranyi ) viewed from below at low light levels. We think of light as a way to see in the dark. But many species use it to help them hide. This adaptation is called counterillumination. Seen from below, an animal might stand out as a dark shape against the brighter water above. By glowing on its underside, it can blend in. Watch a...Read more
Oct 3, 2012
In the past 30 years, the Great Barrier Reef -- Australia's iconic natural wonder -- has lost half of its coral to a combination of forces. Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair of Marine Science at the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History and Editor-in-Chief of the Ocean Portal, went on PBS NewsHour to talk about the reef, its problems, and how it can be restored. Also, read her blog post on...Read more