Today's Catch

Apr 1, 2015
Credit:

Flickr User AJC1

In the ocean, microscopic forms of algae, known as dinoflagellates , can "bloom" into dense patches near the surface, often referred to as "red tides." Some of these harmful algal blooms (HABs) are dangerous, producing toxins that can kill marine organisms, taint shellfish, cause skin irritations, and even foul the air. They seem to be increasing in size, intensity, and persistence—possibly due...Read more
Mar 31, 2015
Credit:

© John Weller

Three distinct types of killer whale, or orcas, can be found in the Antarctic, each with a different habitat and diet preference. One type of orca preys almost exclusively on the Antarctic minke whale, another on seals, and the last eats fish. None have yet been described as separate species, but genetic testing will help scientists know if they should be. See more Antarctic scenes in our Ross...Read more
Mar 30, 2015
Credit:

(c) Alexander Semenov

Brachiopods are an ancient group of organisms, at least 600 millions years old. They might just look like clams, but they are not even closely related. Instead of being horizontally symmetrical along their hinge, like clams and other bivalves, they are vertically symmetrical, cut down the middle of their shell. While they may all look the same to us, during the Paleozoic era (roughly 250-500...Read more
Mar 27, 2015
In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among birds and large animals, but Dr. Chris Mah, an invertebrate zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, suggests that what we don’t see may be more widespread and devastating. To learn...Read more
Mar 26, 2015
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©2011arthowardphototography.com

The first time biologist Mandy Joye dove to the deep sea in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible (pictured here), she had never seen the bubbles of a methane seep. But after that fateful day in 1994, she was entranced. Instead of studying the mussels and other animals that survive in the cold, dark, deep ocean by feeding on methane, she focused on a different group of organisms: microbes that consume...Read more
Mar 25, 2015
Credit:

Encyclopedia of Life

Simon Coppard, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and an Encyclopedia of Life Rubenstein Fellow specializing in echinoids often uncovers new species during his research. In 2006, he and a fellow scientist discovered and described Coelopleurus exquisitus , a previously unknown sea urchin species from New Caledonia in the South Pacific.Read more
Mar 24, 2015
Credit:

Seabird McKeon

The Sargassum frogfish Histrio histrio (Antennariidae) is a small but voracious predator - it can ingest animals up to it’s own size! The fins of the frogfish are perfect for creeping around in the algae and stalking unsuspecting prey. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellow, Seabird McKeon, studies floating seaweeds and the minuscule animals that call them...Read more
Mar 23, 2015
Credit:

Linda Snook/NOAA/CBNMS

The Pacific hagfish ( Eptatretus stoutii ), a fish that looks similar to an eel, has no jaw and is totally blind. They find food, often dead fish, through a specialized sense of smell and, because they can absorb nutrients through their skin, can eat by just burrowing into a dead carcass. However, they also eat live prey. Learn more about their habitat, ecology, and slime-producing habits !Read more
Mar 20, 2015
Credit:

©Clyde F.E. Roper

Sperm whales have conical teeth on their long, narrow, lower jaw. The teeth fit neatly into sockets in the upper jaw, which has no teeth. This arrangement is a perfect adaptation for slurping up soft-bodied squids—giant or otherwise. The sperm whale is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species .Read more
Mar 19, 2015
Credit:

Image Courtesy Edie Widder

Under white light, this shortnose greeneye fish ( Chlorophthalmus agassizi ) looks unimpressive. But, in dim blue light—the type usually seen at depth—it shows its true fluorescent colors. NOAA scientists collected this specimen during a 2004 expedition for optical studies . The scientists believe the green flouresence of the fish’s eye lenses help it detect prey better in dimly lit water...Read more

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