orange julia butterflyInvertebrates are the most abundant creatures on earth, crawling, flying, floating, or swimming in virtually all of Earth's habitats, from townhouses to tropical rainforests. Yet most of us rarely notice them unless they're in our gardens or on our dinner plates. 

Invertebrates—creatures without backbones—are nature's unsung heroes, quietly playing vital roles in earth's ecosystems. About 99 percent of all known living species are invertebrates. Vertebrates—fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals—make up a tiny fraction of life on earth. link tomore about the silent majority

It is nearly impossible to go a day without encountering one of the million species of arthropods. Most of them are insects, and many others are spiders.

New Animals on Exhibit

tealia anemoneIn late summer, many new animals went on view at the Invertebrate Exhibit. These animals include cuttlefish, sea nettles, a variety of cold- and warm-water anemones, astrea and turban snails, peppermint shrimp, leather stars, keyhole limpets, and blue-legged hermit crabs, as well as a young giant Pacific octopus, which can be seen on our web cam below.

Conserving Coral

The Zoo recently received thousands of microscopic elkhorn coral larvae harvested by Zoo scientists in Puerto Rico. After rearing the coral at the Zoo, they hope to one day return the animals to their wild ocean habitat. click for more

Hear Zoo scientist Mary Hagedorn talk about the elkhorn coral project with As It Happens host Carol Off. This interview originally aired on the CBC on September 28, 2007.

At the Zoo

The Zoo's Invertebrate Exhibit is home to dozens of invertebrate species, from sea stars to spiny lobsters to tarantulas to a giant Pacific octopus. Many butterflies can also be seen at the Zoo. click formore

link to Invertebrate Photo Gallery | link toHelp with cam

Can’t see any animals?
The animal in this exhibit may have moved out of view. FONZ volunteers operate some cams, but most of our cams show a fixed view.

The giant Pacific octopus is the world's largest octopus—large males may have an arm span up to 25 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds. Octopuses are mollusks, and are related to squid, cuttlefish, and nautiluses.
Octopus facts | Ocean Living photo gallery

Related Cams

At the Invertebrate Exhibit

ctenophoresWhat looks like a walnut, refracts light, and swims? An animal that can be seen at the Invertebrate Exhibit: the sea walnut, a kind of ctenophore (pronounced TEN-uh-fore) or comb jelly. Shown at left, the sea walnuts eat zooplankton and usually drift with the water current. They display rainbow colors when light hits their rows of moving cilia (short hair-like structures), which are used for locomotion. There are dozens of ctenophore species. You can see Mnemiopsis leidyi in a small tank near the giant Pacific octopus.

Several common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) can also be seen at the Invertebrate Exhibit. These cephalopods are fed three times a day and delight visitors with dramatic color and pattern changes.

The Invertebrate Exhibit is also home to giant African millipedes, spiny lobsters, anemones, leaf-cutter ants, a giant Pacific octopus, and much more in the main exhibit, and beautiful zebra longwing, orange julia, and erato butterflies in our Pollinarium. link t omore

Chesapeake Bay Crab Exhibit
blue crabThe Blue Crab and the Bay exhibit, located at the Invertebrate Exhibit, highlights the biology of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, focusing on its lifecycle and its environment in the Chesapeake Bay. Find out more.

Every day staff and volunteers welcome visitors into the world of invertebrates through conversation, demonstrations, and science-based discussions. Special demonstrations and activities occur at least every half hour. The animals are housed in aquariums and terrestrial exhibits. arrowexhibit details

For a journey into the realm of the fascinating, odd, graceful, and the ecologically complex, visit the Invertebrate Exhibit.

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