Today's Catch

Jul 14, 2015

Chuck Savall

Munch, munch. The queen parrotfish ( Scarus vetula ) scrapes algae from Caribbean coral reefs with its parrot-like beak. While feeding, hard stone and coral inevitably get mixed into its lunch, which in turn gets ground up by the fish and deposited back into the ecosystem as sand. This fish is an adult male. But when young, parrotfish have the ability to change sex, depending on the population’s...Read more
Jul 13, 2015

©2003 MBARI

Riftia tubeworm ( Riftia pachyptila ) colonies grow where hot, mineral-laden water flows out of the seafloor in undersea hot springs—such as the Guymas Basin of the Gulf of California at 2,000 meters (6562 feet), where MBARI took this photo. As volcanic activity deep below the seafloor changes, sometimes these hot springs stop flowing. In this case, the entire worm colony may die off. But new hot...Read more
Jul 10, 2015

© Brian Skerry,

The shortfin mako shark ( Isurus oxyrinchus) is found offshore in tropical and warm temperate waters of all oceans, but has been known to travel to cooler waters at times. It is very strong and the fastest known species of shark, reaching moving speeds of 31 mph (50 kph) with bursts up to 46 mph! These qualities make the shortfin mako a prized catch among recreational fisherman. The mako is also...Read more
Jul 8, 2015

© Jeff Rotman/

This photo of a freshly cut dorsal fin from a scalloped hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna lewini ) , was taken in 2006 on a long-lined fishing boat in Cocos Island, 300 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Cocos was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the home to one of the world's richest shark populations. It has also become a major target for long-lined shark fishing. Every year,...Read more
Jul 7, 2015
Credit:© Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution
The smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark ( Etmopterus perryi ) is smaller than a human hand. It's rarely seen and little is known about it, having only been observed a few times off the northern tip of South America at depths between 283–439 meters (928–1,440 feet). The specimen pictured here was discovered in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia in 1985 at a depth of 290 m (950 ft). Like...Read more
Jul 6, 2015

Flickr User Telemachus

Sharks have young in three different ways. After internal fertilization, some species lay a thick egg case that encloses the shark embryo (seen in the photo here). Most species are ovoviviparous, which means that the shark hatches and develops within the female shark and is born live. A third way (viviparous) is similar to human development, where the young shark grows within the female and gets...Read more
Jul 2, 2015
Credit:© Hauke Flores, AWI
In Antarctica's Southern Ocean swims a beautiful polychaete (bristly worm) called Tomopteris carpenteri , which is adorned with alternating red and transparent bands. The largest species in its genus, it it found throughout the water column, including the deep sea, where this photo was taken by Census of Marine Life researchers. Most polychaetes swim in the open water using their parapodia, the...Read more
Jul 1, 2015

L. Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. (WHOI) (

In the Coral Triangle, a biodiverse area between Indonesia and the Philippines, scientists discovered this swimming polychaete (bristly worm), which they have dubbed the "squidworm." Using a remotely operated vehicle, the researchers with the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ), a project of the Census of Marine Life , dove 1.8 miles (2,800 meters) to first discover Teuthidodrilus samae in 2007...Read more
Jun 30, 2015

David Shale/MAR-ECO, Census of Marine Life

This beautiful jewel squid ( Histioteuthis bonnellii ) can be found swimming above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, at depths of 500-2,000 meters (1,640-6,562 feet). The “jewels” covering the body are bioluminescent photophores. But these squids can't bargain for their lives with those jewels: they have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales, swordfish and sharks.Read more
Jun 29, 2015

Alan D. Wilson

The polar bear ( Ursus maritimus ) is found in the Arctic and classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This marine mammal can swim more than 30 miles when sea ice has receded due to warm temperatures. Listen to a podcast from Encyclopedia of Life that tells the story of two personal encounters with a polar bear, and find out more about its Arctic home .Read more