Invertebrates

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From the giant squid to microscopic squid babies, squids are beautiful and fascinating. As cephalopods, the same family as octopuses and cuttlefish, they have no bones, and swim head-first through the water with their...
Since summer 2013, starfish along both coasts of the United States have been...
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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...

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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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Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean's water column around the world. They are...

The Ocean Blog

Not all slugs (snails without shells) are slimy brown pests found in your backyard garden. In the ocean they come in a huge variety of colors — some match the background and are hard to spot, but...
What is this bizarre, spiky-looking organism? Hint: it can be found in tropical areas of the Pacific and Indian ocean basins crawling slowly over coral reefs and devouring any living coral polyps...
In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among birds...
On many of the dives, Oceana's 2011 Baltic Sea expedition team saw little wildlife in the oxygen-depleted areas. But near some marine protected areas, the crew saw an array of marine life, including...
The Census of Marine Life - a ten-year effort by scientists from around the world to answer the age-old question, “What lives in the sea?” It was an international effort to asses the diversity,...
An octopus shoots ink in defense as it swims away from a scuba diver.
The dark seafloor beneath the ice is covered with sea stars, urchins and ribbon worms looking for their next meal, which can come from sponges, dead animals that float to the sea floor, or even other...
The yeti crab ( Kiwa hirsuta ), an unusual, hairy crab with no eyes, was discovered in 2005 on a hydrothermal vent near Easter Island. It represents not only a new species but also a new genus— Kiwa...
This bearded fireworm ( Hermodice carunculata ) must have a strong stomach -- it’s sucking on fire coral ( Millepora sp. ), which would give the unlucky snorkeler a nasty sting. Encountered in St...
Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature " Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea ."
Shown here are several deep-sea coral species: From left to right is an unidentified purple octocoral, a small gold acanthorgorgiid octocoral, and a large colony of pink Corallium secundum . Basket...
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...
A cameraman navigates a smack of sea nettles ( Chrysaora fuscescens ) in Monterey Bay. A group of jellies is known as a "smack."
These cancer cells have been treated with discodermolide, a chemical obtained from a sponge that grows on deep-sea coral reefs. It prevents the cells from dividing and spreading. Learn more about...
A colony of 100 million flame shells ( Limaria hians ) was discovered in Scotland in 2012 , and is thought to be the biggest in the world. Flame shells are bivalve mollusks that are shaped a bit like...
These large jellyfish ( Chrysaora fuscescens ) are most commonly found along the coasts of California and Oregon. (They're also popular in the displays of public aquaria.) Their bells can grow to a...
Can you spot the amphipod ( Phronima atlantica ) in the below photo? She's the transparent lobster-looking animal in the middle, surrounded by her own eggs -- inside a sac that once was the "barrel"...
These two nautiluses ( Nautilus belauensis ) are pictured off the coast of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. There are six living species of nautilus who live in chambered shells. As they get bigger, they...
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