Oceans A to Z

A is for Anemone Illustration

A is for Anemone

The soft-bodied sea anemone may appear delicate, but don't be fooled. This animal boasts unexpected predatory prowess.

A, B, C MORE ON ANEMONES!

B is for Bioluminescence Illustration

B is for Bioluminescence

The anglerfish isn't the only ocean animal using bioluminescence to its advantage. Brittle stars can detach one of their glowing arms to distract predators as they flee.

A, B, C MORE ON BIOLUMINESCENCE!

C is for Coral Illustration

C is for Coral

Corals have an alarmingly slow growth rate, many expanding mere millimeters or centimeters per year. It can take nearly 10,000 years for a fringing coral reef to form.

A, B, C MORE ON CORAL!

D is for Dumbo Octopus Illustration

D is for Dumbo Octopus

The Dumbo octopus resembles and is named after the flying elephant from the Walt Disney animated classic, but the two large flaps on its mantle are not ears.

A, B, C MORE ON DUMBO OCTOPUSES!

E is for Estuary Illustration

E is for Estuary

Estuaries fan the coasts of the United States, from Washington's Puget Sound to Florida's Tampa Bay and the nation's largest estuary—the Chesapeake Bay.

A, B, C MORE ON ESTUARIES!

F is for Frogfish Illustration

F is for Frogfish

From the brightly spotted clown frogfish to the spine-covered hairy frogfish, these lumpy, bumpy fish feature an eclectic set of colors and other adornments.

A, B, C MORE ON FROGFISH!

G is for Giant Clam Illustration

G is for Giant Clam

Did you know? Giant clams are the largest living bivalves on Earth.

A, B, C MORE ON GIANT CLAMS!

H is for Hammerhead Illustration

H is for Hammerhead

Sharks may date back 450 million years, but the first hammerheads didn't appear until about 20 million years ago.

A, B, C MORE ON HAMMERHEADS!

I is for Ice Illustration

I is for Ice

Did you know? Arctic sea ice plays an important role in regulating the Earth's climate.

A, B, C MORE ON ICE!

J is for Jellies Illustration

J is for Jellies

DYK? The immortal jelly can regress from a medusa back into a polyp, restarting its lifecycle from the beginning.

A, B, C MORE ON JELLIES!

K is for Kemp's Ridley Illustration

K is for Kemp's Ridley

Of the seven sea turtle species splashing around the ocean, the Kemp's ridley is one of the smallest—and the most critically endangered.

A, B, C MORE ON KEMP'S RIDLEYS!

L is for Lobster Illustration

L is for Lobster

The largest known lobster was caught in Nova Scotia in the 1970s. It weighed 44.4 pounds and was 3.5 feet long!

A, B, C MORE ON LOBSTERS!

M is for Mangrove Illustration

M is for Mangrove

Mangrove forests flourish in high-salinity waters that would kill most other plants by secreting or excluding salt.

A, B, C MORE ON MANGROVES!

N is for Nudibranch Illustration

N is for Nudibranch

Did you know? Nudibranchs' bold colors come from their diet!

A, B, C MORE ON NUDIBRANCHS!

O is for Oarfish Illustration

O is for Oarfish

The giant oarfish can grow to be 56 feet long and weigh nearly 600 pounds.

A, B, C MORE ON OARFISH!

P is for Peacock Mantis Shrimp Illustration

P is for Peacock Mantis Shrimp

The peacock mantis shrimp is a voracious predator, delivering deadly, backbreaking blows to its prey in just milliseconds.

A, B, C MORE ON PEACOCK MANTIS SHRIMP!

Q is for Queensland Grouper Illustration

Q is for Queensland Grouper

A full-grown Queensland grouper can grow to nearly 8.8 feet and weigh an astounding 880 pounds.

A, B, C MORE ON QUEENSLAND GROUPERS!

R is for Ray Illustration

R is for Ray

Some devil rays have been observed jumping more than 6 feet from the water.

A, B, C MORE ON RAYS!

S is for Sawfish Illustration

S is for Sawfish

Though they resemble and are closely related to sharks, sawfish are actually in the ray order.

A, B, C MORE ON SAWFISH!

T is for Tasselled Wobbegong Illustration

T is for Tasselled Wobbegong

Tasselled wobbegongs are stealthy ambush predators that strike with deadly speed.

A, B, C MORE ON TASSELLED WOBBEGONGS!

U is for Urchin Illustration

U is for Urchin

Spine-covered sea urchins have no eyes but use hundreds of tube feet to sense light.

A, B, C MORE ON URCHINS!

V is for Vaquita Illustration

V is for Vaquita

Vaquitas are the most endangered marine mammal in the world.

A, B, C MORE ON VAQUITAS!

W is for Wolf Eel Illustration

W is for Wolf Eel

Wolf eels are not true eels. They are in the wolffish family!

A, B, C MORE ON WOLF EELS!

X is for X-Ray Tetra Illustration

X is for X-Ray Tetra

Beneath a layer of translucent skin and faint, silvery scales, the spine of this tetra species is clearly visible.

A, B, C MORE ON X-RAY TETRAS!

Y is for Yellow Tang Illustration

Y is for Yellow Tang

Yellow tangs graze on algae, sometimes even cleaning the shells of green sea turtles.

A, B, C MORE ON YELLOW TANGS!

Z is for Zebra Mussel Illustration

Z is for Zebra Mussel

The invasive zebra mussel is named for the alternating brown and yellow stripes on its shell.

A, B, C MORE ON ZEBRA MUSSELS!