Today's Catch

Jun 12, 2013
Credit:

Flickr user Paul Cowell

The sea's largest fish has been a mystery until recent decades. Thanks to electronic tags, researchers are uncovering some of the secrets of the whale shark ( Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828 ). One tagged animal, dubbed "Rio Lady," swam some 5,000 miles during a span of 150 days. Another dove to a depth of 6,324 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. These sharks are attracting scientists and tourists alike to...Read more
Jun 11, 2013
Credit:

Smithsonian Institution

Giant squid have the largest eye in the animal kingdom. At up to 10 inches in diameter, people often describe it as the size of a dinner plate -- or, in other words, as big as a human head. Here, National Museum of Natural History staffer Katie Velazco goes eye-to-eye with a preserved example from the Smithsonian's collection . Why do they need such big eyes? The deep ocean is so dark that bigger...Read more
Jun 10, 2013
Credit:

Carl Buell, http://carlbuell.com/

Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea picklingi , and Supayacetus muizoni . Smithsonian curator and paleobiologist Dr. Nicholas D. Pyenson was on the team that discovered the marine fossils in Peru's Pisco Basin...Read more
Jun 7, 2013
"We too are sea creatures," entreats ocean explorer Sylvia Earle in this beautiful short film, which calls for protecting the ocean and, in particular, for ending destructive fishing practices. It's estimated that we've lost on the order of 90% of many of the ocean's big fishes, such as tuna, sharks, and cod, through overfishing what was once considered a limitless resource. Today, people still...Read more
Jun 6, 2013
Credit:

NOAA

A Turtle Excluder Device (TED) enables a loggerhead turtle ( Caretta caretta ) to escape from a fishing net. Technological advancements like this are helping to prevent deaths of unintended marine bycatch. Loggerhead turtles are considered to be threatened and endangered (depending on the specific population) and the their greatest threat is unintended catch in fishing gear. The United States...Read more
Jun 5, 2013
Credit:

Smithsonian Institution

How do right whales size up? North Atlantic Right whales ( Eubalaena glacialis ) are big, but they're not the biggest whales. That distinction goes to the Blue whale ( Balaenoptera musculus ), the largest animal on Earth. While the Orca, or Killer whale size of up to 31 feet make it the largest dolphin. The Sperm whale on the other hand may not be the biggest whale, but it has the biggest brain...Read more
Jun 4, 2013
Credit:

(c) 2004 Berkley White/Marine Photobank

Blast fishing, when dynamite or other explosives are used to stun or kill fish, is a practice used in many villages and isolated regions of the world. Hundreds of fish can be seen strewn across the reef, left as bycatch, such as these tropical fish in Thailand. Fishers are targeting larger, valuable species such as grouper which command a hefty price at the market—yet all the reef species pay the...Read more
Jun 3, 2013
Credit:

New England Aquarium

Fargo, the dog pictured here, is not just having a relaxing day at sea. He is helping researchers at the New England Aquarium in Boston detect scat (or poop) from North Atlantic right whales . The dogs find about four times more whale poop with their scent detection than the researchers would using other methods. Researchers analyze the scat to learn more about the health and reproduction of the...Read more
May 31, 2013
Credit:

Marli Wakeling/Nature's Best Photography

“Lembeh Strait is a fantastic place to find species that have evolved to resemble other animals or plants to survive. Because of the lens I was using, I had to get really close to this crab. As I moved in, it retreated into the xenia coral polyps. When I backed up, it came back out. The skittish crab, in addition to having the wrong lens for the task, made this a challenging shot.” -- Nature's...Read more
May 30, 2013
Credit:

Kunio Amaoka

This deep sea creature, the whalefish ( Cetomimidae ), has a whale-like body, a gaping mouth, no fins or scales and a deep lateral line, which detects vibrations in the water. The first specimens were discovered by two Smithsonian scientists in fish collections at the National Museum of Natural History more than a century ago. In the 1980s, a different scientist realized that they only had female...Read more

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