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The ocean is home to a phenomenal diversity of marine organisms. They have evolved to inhabit warm waters near the equator and the icy waters of the Earth’s poles. Marine life takes advantage of...
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This summer, many of you have likely enjoyed feasting on crabs, be they blue,...
Zombie worms don’t crave brains: instead they seek bones. The 1 to 3 inch (2 to...
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Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high...

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In recent years, blooms of jellyfish, such as these moon jellies ( Aurita aurita ) in the Chesapeake Bay, have become more common around the world for a number of different reasons . One result of these blooms is that there is...
An orange brisingid starfish sits on a large reef of Lophelia pertusa, cold-...
These watercolor sketches of Trapezia crabs were drawn by Frederick Bayer, a...

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Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more...
Researchers use Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) like this one to study the diversity of coral reef organisms. They leave the structures underwater for about a year. Then they retrieve...
The dumbo octopus ( Grimpoteuthis ) is a deep sea animal that lives on the ocean floor at extreme depths of 9,800 to 13,000 feet. They are small animals, around 8 inches tall, and have a pair of fins...
This much smaller hyperiid (in the genus Paraphromina ) has eyes that make up 45 percent of its body! Its many retinas, which researchers believe are used to maximize light detection, are the small...
All over the world, people have been witnessing gigantic blooms of tens of thousands of jellyfish where once there were only a few. Fishers find them clogging their nets and costing them dearly. In...
Atolla tenella , a midwater scyphomedusa , as seen under a microscope. View the “Under Arctic Ice” photo essay to learn more.
These candy cane snapping shrimp ( Alpheus randalli ) have a pretty nice set up. They share their living space with goby fish, helping the fish dig and maintain the burrow that they share in the...
These deep-sea photographs show a variety of broad-collared enteropneusts or acorn worms . These wormlike animals make spiral tracks on the sea floor. All the species shown here are new to science,...
A cnidarian brought up from the Arctic seafloor more than 2000 meters (6562 feet) deep.
During the 2012 field season of the Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) in Curaçao, Smithsonian scientists collected many specimens with the help of the Curasub . Prospective new species were caught...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through their bodies. They are very common on Caribbean coral reefs, and come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is great...
Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing...
Boring sponges get a bad rap. Their own name betrays them, announcing to the world that they are unexciting, ordinary and quite frankly, boring. However, if ever a misnomer existed, this is it. More...
The blue crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) is one of the most important commercial species in the United States, especially in the Chesapeake Bay region on the Mid-Atlantic coast. Its populations are...
The long silver tool shown here is a piece of traditional Australian fishing gear called a “yabbie pump.” Researchers use the device to collect burrowing shrimp and other fast-moving animals from the...
The feathery strands at the back of this nudibranch’s ( Chromodoris willani ) body are no mere adornment: they’re its gills! Nudibranchs, shell-less snails or sea slugs, are named for these tufted...
This deep-sea urchin ( Echinocrepis rostrata ) is an important “bulldozer.” It turns over sediment and exposes prey as it moves across the ocean floor, leaving a trail of tracks behind. This photo...
“This image was captured during an evening dive in water where the largest migration on Earth occurs nightly," said Nature's Best Photographer Joshua Lambus. The migration he speaks of is the diel...
Dr. Clyde Roper prepares to dive thousands of feet to a giant squid habitat off the coast of New Zealand in a one-person submersible. More about the giant squid can be found in our Giant Squid...
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