Today's Catch

May 2, 2013
Credit:

Bastian Bentlage

This venomous box jelly ( Chiropsalmus quadrumanus ) was collected off the coast of South Carolina. The specimen now resides in the Smithsonian’s marine collection . It's venomous sting can be lethal, especially to small children. Listen to Podcast of Life: Box Jellies and check out the jellyfish and comb jellies overview to learn more about jellies.Read more
Apr 22, 2013
Credit:

Flickr User dolanh

When it comes to many of our once-favorite seafoods, there aren't always plenty more fish in the sea. In fact, some studies estimate that up to 90 percent of large predatory fish (those that eat other animals—and usually end up on our dinner plates) have disappeared since humans began heavy fishing. You can help turn the tide by demanding sustainable seafood at the supermarket and in your...Read more
Apr 15, 2013
Credit:

Rod Strachan/Nature's Best Photography

These cute Adélie penguins ( Pygoscelis adeliae ) are actually having a bit of a spat. In the spring (October for them), the penguins form breeding colonies on rocky coasts with thousands of birds in a group. Krill, a tiny crustacean, is the penguins' main food source, but krill populations are being affected by climate change and the Adélie penguin populations are decreasing (PDF) as a result. “...Read more
Apr 10, 2013
Credit:

James Watt, USFWS Pacific

Check out the eyes on these Hawaiian squirrelfish ( Sargocentron xantherythrum )! Because squirrelfish are almost entirely nocturnal, they need big eyes to absorb as much moonlight and starlight as they can in the dark. During the day, they hide out in the nooks and crannies of tropical coral reefs. To defend its small hiding place, the squirrelfish grunts by grinding its teeth and stretching the...Read more
Mar 28, 2013
Credit:

Tobias Friedrich/Nature's Best Photography

Gray reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos ) are known for being active at night. They are considered Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List due to fishing and the loss of their coral reef habitat. The sinister animal, with its sleek body, can be quite aggressive when directly threatened. “It was shaping up to be a bad night dive when my mask broke and I was forced to come up early. The others...Read more
Mar 26, 2013
Credit:

Sven Zea (http://www.spongeguide.org/)

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 17, 2013
Credit:

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 14, 2013
Credit:

Eduardo Zattara, Smithsonian Institution

The over 1,000 species of ribbon worms ( Nemertea ) are mostly found in marine environments (like the Hubrechtia found in a mud flat, in the photo). These worms have both a mouth and an anus (unlike flatworms, which use the same opening for both ingesting and removing their food). Some species are centimeters long, like the ones that Smithsonian scientists searched for in Florida , while others,...Read more
Jan 25, 2013
Credit:

NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel

In 2012, the long-elusive giant squid was finally filmed live in its natural habitat. The squid was found by placing glowing lures outside of a submersible to mimic jellyfish, which typically indicate to the squid that food is nearby. Before this encounter, the giant squid had never been observed in its natural environment, and the only film had been taken of a squid caught on a hook and brought...Read more
Jan 14, 2013
Credit:

I. MacDonald, FSU, Arctic Exploration 2002, NOAA

Polar bears have evolved to survive in the Arctic with large, oar-like front paws for better swimming, as well as insulating blubber, and two layers of fur for the frigid temperatures. They rely on pack ice, traveling thousands of miles in a year looking for food (mostly ringed and bearded seals, although they hunt other animals if they come across them). Polar bears are listed as threatened by...Read more

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