Two adult bottlenose dolphins and one calf swim close to a sandy seafloor that’s dotted with coral.
Study Suggests Dolphins Use Coral Mucus as Medicine
Researchers observe that dolphins in a pod in the Red Sea regularly rub against certain corals and sponges, perhaps to sooth their skin by prompting the invertebrates to release mucus that contains antimicrobial compounds.
ABOVE: ANGELA ZILTENER
Study Suggests Dolphins Use Coral Mucus as Medicine
Study Suggests Dolphins Use Coral Mucus as Medicine

Researchers observe that dolphins in a pod in the Red Sea regularly rub against certain corals and sponges, perhaps to sooth their skin by prompting the invertebrates to release mucus that contains antimicrobial compounds.

Researchers observe that dolphins in a pod in the Red Sea regularly rub against certain corals and sponges, perhaps to sooth their skin by prompting the invertebrates to release mucus that contains antimicrobial compounds.

ABOVE: ANGELA ZILTENER

marine biology

brown spotted octopus blending in with its background
Steroids May Explain Octopuses’ Self-Starvation
Andy Carstens | May 16, 2022
Two glands increase steroid production after female California two-spot octopuses mate, a study finds. Those hormones may be responsible for the animals’ self-destructive behavior.
Photo of fish in the Haemulidae family
Fish Are Chattier Than Previously Thought
Connor Lynch | May 2, 2022
Once thought to be silent, fish turn out to produce a range of vocalizations—so polluting the oceans with noise could pose a danger to them.
Close-up of a fiber with brightly colored pathogens beside it
Microplastics in Seawater May Harbor Parasites
Christie Wilcox | Apr 26, 2022
Laboratory experiments find that Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia can congregate on microplastic beads and fibers, suggesting they might make their way into and around the world’s oceans by hitching rides on tiny bits of trash.
A black and white photo of a man standing at a lab bench, holding up a glass jar
Reimagining Ecology, 1939
Lisa Winter | Apr 4, 2022
Edward Ricketts built his laboratory just onshore from the swirling tidepools of Monterey Bay, California, an ideal backdrop against which he developed a new system for studying the ecology of any given habitat.
octopus blue
What Scientists Learned by Putting Octopuses in MRI Machines
Chloe Tenn | Jan 20, 2022
The size and complexity of cephalopod brain structures differ depending on the habitats the creatures occupy, a study finds.
black and white man on coast
Biophysicist Adrianus Kalmijn Dies at 88
Chloe Tenn | Jan 11, 2022
His work revealed that sharks use an electromagnetic sense to navigate and detect prey.
Photo of krill and plankton in the sea, macro detail
Fear Could Help Explain the Behavior of Animals in the Ocean
Catherine Offord | Jan 4, 2022
Avoidance of predation is a driving force behind the daily movements of marine creatures across the food web, a study concludes.
Close-up of wild sea otter (Enhydra lutris) eating shellfish while floating on it's back.
Sea Otters Demonstrate that There Is More to Muscle than Just Movement—It Can Also Bring the Heat
Traver Wright, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Randall Davis | Dec 13, 2021
Sea otters are born with a supercharged metabolism that helps them stay warm in chilly waters.
microscope image of methaotrophs with black specks
Deep Sea Microbes Produce Graphite-like Carbon
Chloe Tenn | Nov 11, 2021
The first evidence of biologically produced elemental carbon inspires more questions than answers.  
Colorized satellite image of milky sea
Milky Seas Can Be Spotted from Space
Connor Lynch | Nov 1, 2021
Analysis of data from a new satellite sensor helps researchers detect large patches of bioluminescence in the oceans faster than ever before.
ABOVE: A pair of Labroides dimidiatus cleaner fish cleaning a puffer fish
Cleaner Fish Alter Behavior if Partners Can See Them “Cheating”
Chloe Tenn | Oct 7, 2021
A study of feeding behavior suggests the fish feed differently in front of their partners—a behavioral feature also found in primates.
Chelonibia testudinaria barnacle on turtle shell
Some Barnacles Can Move Around to Improve Feeding Position
Chloe Tenn | Oct 6, 2021
The Scientist spoke with marine biologist and barnacle researcher John Zardus about why turtle barnacles—previously thought to be immobile—in fact slowly travel. He thinks the answer is food.
sea snake swimming in blue water
Sea Snake “Attacks” Are Cases of Mistaken Identity: Study
Christie Wilcox | Aug 19, 2021
The Scientist spoke to marine biologist Tim Lynch, who dusted off 25-year-old data from his PhD to figure out why olive sea snakes approach divers so often. He says the animals, especially the males, likely confuse people for potential mates.
Three researchers with headlamps on stand around a loggerhead turtle on the beach while a man covers the turtle's face with a gloved hand
Tiny Hitchhikers Reveal Turtles’ Movements and Foraging Ecology
Amanda Heidt | Jul 13, 2021
Microscopic creatures called epibionts that live on sea turtles’ shells can help researchers understand their secretive lives.
A blue coelacanth with white speckles in the ocean
African Coelacanths May Live to Be 100: Study
Catherine Offord | Jun 18, 2021
This evolutionarily ancient fish species has a lifespan that’s around five times longer than previously thought, and a gestation time of more than five years.
Newly named jellyfish Tima nigroannulata swimming in Japan’s Kamo Aquarium.
Aquarium Jellyfish Turns Out to Be Undescribed Species
Lisa Winter | Jun 18, 2021
The newly characterized “elegant jellyfish,” roughly the size of a human hand, had been on display in two aquariums in Japan for more than a decade.
man in motorboat by a pier with the sea surface covered in marine mucilage
Why Turkey’s Sea of Marmara Is Full of Marine Snot
Christie Wilcox | Jun 11, 2021
Turkish officials are scrambling to clean up a massive, gooey plankton bloom that’s sliming the country’s ports and could suffocate the area’s marine ecosystems.
Close-up shot of smooth cauliflower polyps
Comprehensive Atlas of Reef-Building Coral’s Cells Created
Christie Wilcox | May 13, 2021
Single-cell RNA sequencing helps to catalog the dozens of cell types present in a stony coral, including its elusive immune cells.
A tiger shark swimming in the shallow water of the ocean above a sandy bottom, with another shark and fish in the background
While Some Sharks Flee, Tiger Sharks Brave Stormy Seas
Nikk Ogasa | May 12, 2021
For the first time, scientists tracked large shark movements during hurricanes and found that tiger sharks may find the turmoil opportunistic for feeding.