Today's Catch

Mar 2, 2016
At Carrie Bow Cay in Belize , Dr. Candy Feller explains her research on the effect of excess nutrients on mangrove swamps. Feller runs the Animal-Plant Interaction Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. See a photo of a tree-climbing crab and some of the other animals that make these coastal ecosystems their home in our Mangrove section .Read more
Mar 1, 2016
Credit:

(c) 2004 Berkley White/Marine Photobank

Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill fish, is a practice used in many villages and isolated regions of the world. Hundreds of fish can be seen strewn across the reef, left as bycatch, such as these tropical fish in Thailand. Fishers are targeting larger, valuable species such as grouper which command a hefty price at the market—yet all the reef species pay the...Read more
Mar 1, 2016
Credit:

© Michael Moore/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

This close-up photo of a right whale's head shows dozens of hitchhikers—tiny crustaceans known as whale lice, or cyamid amphipods. They live on the rough patches of skin (known as callosities) on North Atlantic right whales , eating algae that settles there and only causing minor skin damage. Distinctive patterns formed by their white bodies crowding around rough patches on whales’ skin help...Read more
Feb 26, 2016
Credit:

© Brian Skerry, www.brianskerry.com

A yellow moray eel, Gymnothorax prasinus , inside of a sea sponge in the waters off of Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand. Photographer Brian Skerry takes an artistic eye to his underwater photography, such as the blurred yellow illuminating the otherwise well-hidden eel. In his book Ocean Soul , he wrote, “I believe my most important role remains as artistic interpreter of all that I see. I need...Read more
Feb 25, 2016
Credit:

Flickr user wildestanimal

These two nautiluses ( Nautilus belauensis ) are pictured off the coast of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. There are six living species of nautilus who live in chambered shells. As they get bigger, they move into a newly formed, larger section of the shell. The shell is not only used for protection, but as a way to control their movement and buoyancy. Its spiral shape is is a natural example of...Read more
Feb 24, 2016
Credit:

Flickr user A.Davey

Blue-footed Boobies ( Sula nebouxii ) , common in the Galapagos Islands and other warm coastal areas of the Pacific, can catch flying fish in mid-air. Their blue feet are for fashion AND function. Male and female boobies wave their feet about in elaborate courtship displays and dances . Bluer feet mean a healthier bird and a better parent. Learn more about sea birds here !Read more
Feb 23, 2016
Credit:

© 2004 Smithsonian Institution

The lettuce sea slug ( Elysia crispata ) has enlarged fleshy appendages that are folded over one another, with colors ranging from blue to green, with purple and red lining. The green coloring is what gives this mollusk it's common name, resembling a head of leafy green lettuce. The sea slug eats green algae , but not all of the algae they eat is digested. Some of the green algae gets shuttled...Read more
Feb 22, 2016
Credit:

© 2004 Smithsonian Institution

West Indian Manatees, Trichechus manatus , are found in warm, shallow coastal ecosystems along the southeastern North America and northeastern South America. They graze plants in mangrove ecosystems and seagrass beds , occasionally eating small fish or invertebrates. However, they are sensitive to changes in their environment, such as cool water temperatures and harmful algal blooms , along with...Read more
Feb 19, 2016
In this video Smithsonian research zoologist Dr. Martha Nizinski takes viewers with her as she searches for crustaceans in the deep sea . She's particularly interested in finding squat lobsters , which despite their name, are actually crabs. On this dive in the waters off Curaçao , she discovers some living on a sunken piece of wood. This work is part of the Deep Reefs Observation Project (DROP...Read more
Feb 18, 2016
Credit:

L. Corbari, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, and Joseph Poupin, École Navale, Brest

Discovering new species is an exciting quest, right? Well, some parts are—but after you find a cool-looking organism that you think is a new species, there's a lot more to be done. You have to confirm that it's new, write a detailed description, take photographs, collect DNA, and do other meticulous work. On average, it takes 21 years for a newly discovered species to be officially named! To...Read more

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