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The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the world, including challenging field...
When a whale dies, the story has just begun. The massive carcass sinks to the...
I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging...
How do right whales size up? North Atlantic Right whales ( Eubalaena glacialis...

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To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all distinct. In fact, the Inupiaq have...
The largest of all seal species, the southern elephant seal ( Mirounga...
A close up view of Phoenix and the rough patches of skin known as...

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The threat that climate change poses to polar bears has received a lot of attention, but they are not the only Arctic...

The Ocean Blog

Since 1987, researchers have been tracking the North Atlantic right whale named Phoenix. More about Phoenix can be found in the Tale of a Whale photo essay .
How do we know where ocean animals swim day and night? Scientists are getting snapshots into the daily lives of whales , sharks , and even fish by tagging the animals to track their movements. You’ve...
Both humans and sea lions get sick from eating fish and shellfish that have been feeding on harmful toxic algae. Studying the sick sea lions brings scientists closer to understanding and preventing...
A drawing of Phoenix from the Right Whale Catalog documents her callosity pattern and other identifying marks. More about whales can be found in our Tale of a whale featured story .
This is North Atlantic right whale #3333 who was spotted with fishing gear trailing from his mouth during an aerial survey off the coast of Georgia on January 29, 2008. Entanglement is one of the...
The ocean sustains land animals besides humans. Here, a fox looks for a meal at low tide on the Arctic Peninsula. When the tide goes out, it leaves behind tidepools full of tasty snacks for foxes and...
Often it's the tiniest organisms that do the most harm. One example is microscopic algae, which can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms . Such blooms (some are called "red tides") create...
A female bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops sp. ) carries a sponge, which it uses as a tool to dig up prey from the seafloor. The only dolphins known to use sponges as tools this way are the female...
The small vaquita ( Phocoena sinus ), a type of porpoise, usually only reaches lengths of 5 feet (1.5 meters). They are only found in the Northern part of the Gulf of California off the coast of...
A white scar on Phoenix’s lip (at right) was caused by her entanglement with a fishing line. Learn more about the life of Phoenix, an actual North Atlantic right whale, in the Tale of a whale photo...
The rough patches of skin known as callosities occur in unique patterns on all North Atlantic right whales and help researchers identify and track individual whales. This whale is named Phoenix. More...
Watch a recorded webcast about the latest efforts in Greece to study and save the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal. Centuries of human exploitation and habitat destruction have caused...
Smithsonian squid expert Dr. Clyde Roper collaborated with National Geographic to attach this Crittercam to the head of a sperm whale, hoping to get footage of the whale’s favorite prey—giant squid...
Rachel Caauwe was one of a dozen artists who spent a recent Saturday sketching specimens from the Smithsonian's musky-scented marine mammal collection . Here she's shown drawing the remains of a...
Seals and sea lions have many similarities, and are in the same family of Pinnipeds, but they lead very different lives. Seals are smaller than sea lions; male Stellar sea lions can grow to be up to...
The Surtsey site in Iceland was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Surtsey is a new island, formed by volcanic eruptions that took place from 1963 to 1967. The site is unique, because it's...
The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the...
A view of the injured fluke belonging to Phoenix’s mother, Stumpy. It is not known what caused this injury. It possibly could have been an entanglement. More about whales can be found in our Tale of...
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