marine invertebrates

Something I really enjoy about the deep sea:

Everything is CARNIVOROUS.

By which I mean, for any filter-feeding animal you can find in shallow seas, it probably has a carnivorous cousin in the deep sea. Animals down there adapt to take advantage of any available food. Which often ends up being each other. 

For example:

Bivalves? Yep multiple deep-sea carnivorous species:


Tunicates? Here have a predatory SEA SQUIRT: 


Even CARNIVOROUS SPONGES! Which are awesomely bizarre-looking:


But then, of course, some groups are just the opposite. For example, most cephalopods (squid, octopuses, etc.) are pretty efficient predators. And then we get Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the “vampire squid from hell,” which eats… mostly other animals’ shit and other cast-off particulate carbon that trickles down from the surface waters as “marine snow.” 

Very scary.


I try not to play favorites with the animals at work, but our new Common Octopus is definitely working his way up the list. I absolutely love how interactive this little nugget is, and I am excited to see him learn and figure things out!

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I went on a field trip to Boiler Bay on the Oregon Coast last Saturday for Invertebrate biology lab. Aside from getting up early, falling in a pool and nearly dropping the camera in the water I had a pretty good time. These are some of the inverts we found. As part of an assignment I needed to find and ID a crab and a sponge but I thought it would be fun to ID all the species I photographed. I’m not entirely sure if I have all the species names correct, especially for the red encrusting sponge, it is very hard to ID sponges to a species name without examining the spicules.

Aggregating sea anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)

Ring-spotted dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis)

Orange nemertean (Tubulanus polymorphus) and Purple Sea Urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

Red encrusting sponge (Ophlitaspongia pennata)

Northern kelp crab (Pugettia productus)

I love the textures and variety of colours on the Red Rock Crab (Plagusia charus). Those bright red eyes are always seeming to be peeking out of cracks/crevices. While I see them a lot, trying to get a nice photo seems to be a different story. For every focused photo, I feel like I’ve had another five that are burred, out of focus, or missing the crab altogether.


Father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka dedicated their lives to creating some of the most exquisite glass models ever produced by human hands over the course of overlapping careers spanning the mid 1800s through the 1930s. Originally from Bohemia, but based in Dresden, the artists used glassblowing techniques to fabricate near lifelike sculptures of plants and invertebrates including jellyfish, snails, sea anemones, corals, hydroids, starfish, sea-cucumbers, and other creatures.

Top row: Common octopus Octopus vulgaris, and midwater octopus Enoploteuthis veranii now Abralia veranyi. 2nd row: Medusae of the jellyfishes Carmarina hastata (nomen dubium) and Lymnorea triedra. Large image: The hydrozoan Bougainvillia fruticosa, now B. muscus. Bottom row: Medusa of Chrysaora hysoscella, and a Portuguese man o’ war Physalia pelagica, now P. physalis.

Photos by Guido Mocafico.