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No Spine Required: Β 6 Gorgeous Invertebrates Under The Sea - Fellows

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While the word "invertebrate" may conjure images of gelatinous jellyfish drifting through the ocean (or washed ashore in a translucent blob), there is stark - and sometimes surprising - beauty to be found amongst spineless marine animals.

1. Sea slugs

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Sea slugs live a fairly stationary life on the ocean floor, where they feed on decaying plant matter and plankton. Because they are easy prey for crabs, lobsters, and fish, many sea slug species have evolved bright coloring to trick predators into believing that they taste bad or are full of tummy-ache inducing chemicals.

2. Blue-ringed octopus

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There are 10 species of blue-ringed octopus. They vary in body size, as well as in the the size of the blue rings that make up the pattern for which they are named. Despite their differences, all blue-ringed octopi share the distinction of being extremely poisonous. Luckily for humans, these octopi would much rather hide or flash their blue rings threateningly than actually use their poison for protection - which is great seeing as how no antidote currently exists.

3. Sea urchins

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Well-known for their scrub-brush like appearance, sea urchins hide an otherworldly body beneath those threatening-looking spines. A sea urchin's shed exoskeleton (called a "test") is a sea shell collector's treasure. On top of being simultaneously bizarre, intricate, and pretty, the five sections of a sea urchin test points to the urchin's common ancestry with starfish.

4. Moon snail

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Named for their large, round, lunar-looking shell, the moon snail is common in all seas throughout the world. This hungry inhabitant of the ocean floor feasts on clams, other shellfish, and even each other by drilling a hole into the shell of its meal - leaving those nearly symmetrical holes in sea shells commonly found on beaches.

5. Blue lobster

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Though not a unique species, the mysterious world of colorful lobsters found its way into the spotlight this year when a high school freshman caught a beautiful (and extremely rare) blue lobster off the coast of Portland, Maine. Oceanographers estimate that the genetic defect that gave this lobster, affectionately named "Skylar," his brilliant blue hue makes him a 1-in-2 million find.

Even rarer defects exist, making lobsters calico or solid yellow (1-in-30 million), half-black and half-orange (1-in-50 million), or completely transparent (1-in-100 million) - making the lobster appear to be made of crystal.

6. Giant clam

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Native to warm, shallow waters in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, the giant clam weighs up to 500 lbs. and grows up to 4 feet long - making it is the largest known mollusk on the planet. These enormous, immobile ocean filter feeders have inspired ridiculous urban legends of divers being eaten alive with one (impossibly) swift clamp of the giant clam's shell.

When the mantle of a giant clam is visible between its two open shells, countless small blue-green circles give the mollusk a gorgeous, iridescent appearance that makes the reefs that they inhabit even more breathtaking.