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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...
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...
Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high...

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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 affected by local water quality,...
Like this ctenophore ( Aulococtena acuminata ), many animals that live in...
Sponges are animals that eat tiny food particles as they pump water through...

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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...

The Ocean Blog

When they get larger, Portunus sayi are formidable predators, quick to consume any smaller animal that comes within reach. Fish, other crustaceans, and even smaller members of their own species are...
Dr. Clyde Roper discusses the fascinating anatomy of the giant squid ( Architeuthis dux) in this excerpt of "Eyeball to Eyeball," an episode of Errol Morris' First Person television series. Watch...
An octopus shoots ink in defense as it swims away from a scuba diver.
Last week, Smithsonian research zoologists Dr. Jerry Harasewych and Dr. Martha Nizinski were in Curaçao looking for deep-sea marine gastropods and decapod crustaceans , respectively. I learned they...
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...
How do you get two dead Giant Squid the size of a school bus from a fishing boat in Spain to Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.? Call in the U.S. Navy! In this...
Smaller than the head of a pin, this arrow squid (Doryteuthis plei ) embryo looks like a miniature adult and is almost ready to hatch! Depending on the squid species, the development from a...
Many sperm whales stranded on beaches or caught by whalers exhibit telltale circular scars like these. Only one thing could have made them: the strong suckers that line the giant squid’s eight arms...
Deep-sea coral beds are true biodiversity hotspots. It’s urgent that we study these extreme environments because we know so little about them, because they are important communities for so many deep-...
The Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology has a collection of over 57,000 specimens from over 5,700 sites in the Gulf of Mexico, which are now catalogued on Google Earth . Below is a tiny...
Seahorse couples, such as this pair of thorny seahorses ( Hippocampus histrix ) , greet each other every morning with a unique dance that sometimes involves changing color. The couple promenades and...
When hoping to discover a pearl, looking inside one of the oysters you slurp may not be the best plan. Food oysters in the family Ostreidae are able to produce pearls, however these tend to be small...
Sea butterflies (also called pteropods) are sea snails aptly named: they are shelled marine snails, each with a foot like a wing, that swim in the water column like butterflies. This one, Atlanta...
Recent scientific discoveries have revealed an underwater community of marine animals and other organisms that thrive in the dark depths of the ocean near hydrothermal vents and undersea volcanoes...
A morning sun star ( Solaster dawsoni ) loses its grip on a rock surface as its body slowly decomposes from starfish wasting syndrome off the coast of Vancouver in September 2013. These photos are...
Nine years ago I was invited by a colleague to join a research team investigating deep-sea coral habitats . I was asked to examine the invertebrates associated with these ecosystems. After my first...
Ultraviolet light illuminates the growth rings in a cross-section of a 44-year-old deep-sea coral ( Primnoa resedaeformis ) collected off the coast of Newfoundland at about 1,300 feet (400 meters)...
With 1,400 named species of ribbon worms inhabiting every ecosystem on earth, seeking one out should be an easy proposition. But I quickly learned that it can be quite daunting when you’re looking...
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