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Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been dying in large numbers—and not gracefully. As their tissues collapse, the starfish (also called sea stars) start to look stretched and...
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Tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of many...
I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since 1966...
Collect, sort, identify, photograph, sample, record. Repeat a couple thousand...

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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...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the...
The blue crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) is one of the most important...

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Giant squid live up to their name: the largest giant squid ever recorded by scientists was almost 43 feet (13 meters) long,...

The Ocean Blog

The blanket octopus can rip a poisonous tentacle from a Portuguese man-o-war and wield it like a sword to ward off enemies as it soars through the ocean trailing its webbed cloak behind it...
“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...
A cnidarian brought up from the Arctic seafloor more than 2000 meters (6562 feet) deep.
Success! A so-called "dumbo" octopod is chased and finally captured by a suction device on the ROV, skillfully operated by a pilot on the ship above.
The veined octopus ( Amphioctopus marginatus ), also known as the coconut octopus, has a skill beyond other cephalopods: it hides under animal and coconut shells, dragging them along the seafloor for...
The spiral-tufted bryozoan ( Bugula neritina ) is being studied for a potential Alzheimer's disease and cancer drug -- but it's not the bryozoan that makes the chemical. The chemical, found in the...
Two California market squids ( Loligo opalescens ) mate in the waters off of California's Channel Islands. While spawning, the male's arms blush red as he embraces the female, a warning to other...
Nudibranchs are a kind of sea slug, and their 3000 species are found from the poles to the tropics in both shallow and deep water. Though they often only reach two centimeters in length, they are...
The yellow bioluminescent ring on this female octopus ( Bolitaena pygmaea ) may attract mates. Bioluminescence is an important adaptation that helps many deep sea animals survive in their dark world...
A longshoreman stands in front of a large pile of oyster shells on waterfront pier in Atlantic City in 1910. Back then, oysters were incredibly abundant. In the late 1800s, fishermen pulled in 10...
Stinging cells (nematocysts) line the tentacles of this moon jelly ( Aurelia aurita ). Upon contact with prey or a predator, a venom-laden harpoon shoots out to stun or kill. Read more about...
Researchers in Moorea use a variety of tools to collect organisms. Some are simple, everyday items like buckets and brushes, and some are…a little stranger. Here, two researchers use a “yabbie pump”...
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...
Staghorn (seen here) and elkhorn corals are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. They are the only coral species currently listed, but 66 other coral species have been proposed for...
How does a coral spend its day? Most of us would say: not doing much. To the human eye, a coral looks relatively still, waiting in the current and hoping some food will run into its tentacles. But...
When this tusk shell was brought up from the deep reef, it was a surprise when a hermit crab poked out! Notice the hermit crab's large claw that it can use to tightly cover the shell opening when it...
This pair of sea butterflies ( Limacina helicina ) flutter not far from the ocean's surface in the Arctic. Sea butterflies are a type of sea snail, but instead of dragging themselves around the...
Despite the cold and dark environment, soft-bodied animals like anemones abound under the ice. Using their sticky arms, they grab zooplankton, which can be hard to come by during the long winter with...
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