Today's Catch

Nov 13, 2013
The ocean, which we often break into five large ocean basins, covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface and holds over 1.3 billion cubic km of water. This massive space also holds over 99 percent of the area that can be inhabited by life, along with geological features , such as the world's largest mountain range and the deepest canyon . Despite its vast space, the ocean can be impacted by human...Read more
Nov 12, 2013
Credit:

Seabird McKeon

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 not safe from this hungry sargassum swimming crab. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellow, Seabird McKeon, studies floating seaweeds and the minuscule animals...Read more
Nov 8, 2013
Credit:

Klaus Jost, www.jostimages.com

Scientists have been studying why populations of crown-of-thorns sea stars ( Acanthaster planci ) have mushroomed in recent decades. Coral reefs can suffer when the sea star's numbers explode because the echinoderm has a healthy appetite and few predators. And they are part of the reason why Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in decline .Read more
Nov 7, 2013
Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic algae (phytoplankton) to grow rapidly at the surface and, when the algae bloom in large enough numbers, the collection of tiny particles can actually block sunlight from reaching the seafloor. And this is...Read more
Nov 6, 2013
Credit:

Tony Brown, Flickr

The rich colors of emperor angelfish make them a vibrant version of royalty. They are curious fish that will come and greet their human visitors. However this unique coloring is not shared with all ages. Young emperor angelfish have such a different color scheme than the adults that they are easily mistaken for a different species. They also act differently: young fish may also take up a job as a...Read more
Nov 4, 2013
Credit:

Ross Robertson

A candy basslet ( Liopropoma carmabi ) was just one of the specimens Smithsonian scientists collected from the deep reefs of Curaçao , in the southern Caribbean. To study biodiversity far below the water's surface, the researchers use a five-person submersible. Learn more about the scientists' research on the Ocean Portal's Summer in Sub Blog .Read more
Nov 1, 2013
Credit:

I. MacDonald (in Gulf of Mexico–Origin, Waters, and Biota. Vol. 1. Biodiversity. Felder, D. L. and Camp, D. K. (eds.) 2009. Texas A&M Press.

Like its terrestrial namesake, the Venus fly-trap anemone ( Actinoscyphia sp.) sits quietly and waits for food to drift into its outstretched tentacles, which are lined with stinging harpoons called nematocysts. Of course, this is how most anemones behave; this one just happens to look a like like the Venus fly-trap plant! They are deep-sea animals; this one was photographed at roughly 4,900 feet...Read more
Oct 31, 2013
Credit:

© David Shale

This lizardfish ( Bathysaurus ferox ) rests on the ocean bottom with its head slightly elevated—waiting to snatch prey with its large mouth and sharp teeth. It lives at depths of 600-3,500 meters (1,969-11,483 feet) and grows up to 64 centimeters (25.2 inches) long. More about deep ocean exploration can be found in the Deep Ocean Exploration section .Read more
Oct 30, 2013
Credit:

Yoshihiro Fujiwara/JAMSTEC

Zombie worms ( Osedax roseus ) eat away at the bones of a dead whale that has fallen to the seafloor in Sagami Bay, Japan. These bizarre worms rely on whale bones for energy and are what scientists call “sexually dimorphic”—the male and female forms are markedly different. In this case, the males are microscopic and live inside the bodies of the female worms! This allows females to produce many,...Read more
Oct 28, 2013
Credit:

© 2010 Moorea Biocode

Syllid fireworms are a part of the Syllidae family , which is a type of polychaete worm. Usually these small worms, not getting much bigger than 13 cm, live on the ocean floor. But when the worms mate, they move from their home on the sea bottom to the surface of the water and swim around in small circles. The females use bioluminescence to attract the males during this ritual that occurs around...Read more

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