A Handful of Biodiversity

Nine small invertebrates held on two fingers.
Smithsonian Institution

Fitting nine of anything on two fingers is impressive. These mollusks and echinoderms are a teeny-tiny sample of the ocean's biodiversity. The Census of Marine Life estimates that there are at least one million species of plants and animals in the sea -- and most have not been described. The nine animals in this photo were collected by Smithsonian researchers in the southern Caribbean, near Curaçao. The scientists, part of the Deep Reef Observation Project, are trying to better understand, explore and monitor the biodiversity of deep reefs.