Today's Catch

Mar 26, 2013

Sven Zea (

Tectitethya crypta (formerly known as Cryptotheca crypta ) is a large, shallow-water sponge found in the Caribbean. It was first studied for medical purposes in the 1950s when few scientists or doctors thought to look for medicines in the ocean. But in the sponge, scientists isolated two chemicals — aptly named spongothymidine and spongouridine — which were used as models for the development of a...Read more
Mar 25, 2013

Richard Wylie/Nature's Best Photography

Weedy seadragons ( Phyllopteryx taeniolatus ) are found off the coast of south and east Australia. Just like seahorses , the male seadragon is tasked with caring for its eggs. The bright pink eggs are placed by the female on a brood patch on the underside of the male where they are incubated and then hatch after about six weeks. “The male weedy seadragon is entrusted with the pink, fertilized...Read more
Mar 22, 2013

Allen Collins

This rare staurozoan , or stalked jellyfish ( Haliclystus californiensis ) is about 2 centimeters in length and was collected off the coast of California. Unlike the traditional bell-shaped floating jellyfish, staurozoans live attached to rocks or other hard surfaces and mostly live in cold water. They tend to blend in with their surroundings, so often go unnoticed except to those who seek them...Read more
Mar 21, 2013

Jeff Gage/Florida Museum of Natural History

This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a white shark that lived about 6.5 million years ago called Carcharodon hubbelli . The fossil jaw contains 222 teeth, some in rows up to six teeth deep, and may provide evidence that modern day great white sharks evolved from the ancestors of mako sharks, not the megalodon.Read more
Mar 20, 2013

© Alison Kock, Save Our Seas

A great white shark ( Carcharodon carcharias ) emerges from the water's surface, gaping at the photographer. Gaping is a way sharks communicate with each other, and maybe even try and communicate with humans. In addition to gaping, sharks have six highly refined senses for both hunting and communication: smell, hearing, touch, taste, sight, and electromagnetism. These finely honed senses coupled...Read more
Mar 19, 2013

Howard J. Spero/University of California, Davis

This foraminifera was collected as it floated about 3 meters below the surface off the coast of Puerto Rico. The central dark area is the shell surrounded by spines. The tiny yellow dots are symbiotic algae, which live in the protoplasm of the host organism. When the foraminifer dies, the spines fall off and only the shell is preserved in the fossil record. Shell building animals like forams will...Read more
Mar 18, 2013

Jose Alejandro Alvarez

The larger fish in this picture are called sweetlips ( Plectorhinchus ) because of their big, fleshy lips. There are over thirty species of sweetlips, which tend to live on coral reefs in small groups. “On an afternoon dive, I spotted a small group of sweetlips in the current among a shoal of juvenile convict blennies. It took me some time to get close to the fish without spooking them. I took...Read more
Mar 17, 2013

Filip Nuyttens

This sea potato ( Echinocardium cordatum ) looks similar to its root vegetable namesake, but it's a sea urchin! The spines on this urchin are more hair-like than the spikes seen on some more commonly known urchins, and they lay flat across the urchin's body. They can be found buried in the sediments of the sea floor. In their burrow they separate themselves from the sand and mud with a layer of...Read more
Mar 15, 2013

Chuck Savall

Corals are sedentery animals, so how do they reproduce? One way is sexually through spawning , when the corals release eggs and sperm into the water (often at the same time due to some sort of trigger). External sexual reproduction occurs when colonies of coral release huge numbers of eggs and sperm that are often glued into bundles (one bundle per polyp) that float towards the surface. In this...Read more
Mar 14, 2013

Lovell and Libby Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences

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 bryozoan's tissues, is produced by its bacterial endosymbiont, Candidatus Endobugula sertula . In exchange for a protective home in the bryozoan's tissues, the bacteria produces a chemical called a...Read more