Today's Catch

Aug 27, 2014
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
Aug 26, 2014
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
Aug 25, 2014
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
Aug 22, 2014
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
Aug 21, 2014
Credit:

Toni Torres

Every year, at the same place and time, thousands of female Kemp's ridley sea turtles ( Lepidochelys kempii ) come ashore to nest and lay their eggs on the beach. This mass nesting event is known as an arribada, meaning “arrival by sea” in Spanish. Scientists didn't know where kemp's ridleys nested until the late 1940's, when a filmmaker filmed more than 40,000 turtles coming ashore to nest on...Read more
Aug 20, 2014
Credit:

© Sandra Raredon / Smithsonian Institution

An X-ray image of a Monterey skate ( Raja montereyensis ) reveals a spine that extends like a tail out from the pelvic fin. The skeletons of skates, rays, chimaeras, and sharks are made of cartilage, rather than bone. 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 complex bone structure and diversity...Read more
Aug 19, 2014
Credit:

© 2004 Smithsonian Institution

This beautiful bromeliad, also called an air plant because it gets its nutrients and water from the air, is a flowering plant in the pineapple family. All of them are epiphytes, meaning they get their support from and grow on other plants. Many are found in mangrove forests, such as this one making house on a mangrove root. It's not known whether they provide any benefit to the trees, but when...Read more
Aug 18, 2014
How will changes in temperature affect glaciers and ice sheets? Dr. Sarah Das from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores this phenomenon first hand in Greenland, where she studies how the melted ice travels through glaciers and out to the sea. Learn more about climate change .Read more
Aug 15, 2014
Credit:

Brian Skerry

"Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year, often only for their fins. I have wrestled with how to take pictures of dead sharks that resonate with readers. One morning, I jumped into the sea in Mexico and swam along a gillnet, where I found a thresher shark that had recently died in the net. As I composed the frame, the scene struck me as a crucifixion. Finally I had an image that would...Read more
Aug 14, 2014
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

Pages