Cifonauta marine biology image database

Database organization

Cifonauta photos and videos can be searched by basic information (metadata), such as species, place, author, size, etc. These tags organized by categories like photographic technique, life stage, habitat, etc, provides a more informative and interesting navigation. For example, you might want to look for dark-field crustacean larvae photos, or just browse through the adult forms of planktonik organisms. Image categorization and a description for each tag (with a random example) is below.


The taxonomic information in this site does not adopt any particular classification scheme and is built automatically from ITIS database. From the taxon name (contained in the image) we can retrieve its full taxonomic hierarchy and generate a simple tree for browsing. Therefore, the classification might not be in accordance with latest findings of each area; it reflects, almost strictly, the data from ITIS. Only in some cases we employ the phylogeny proposed by the author (or expert) that identified the species.


We arbitrarily created 5 classes of sizes to provide an idea of organisms' dimensions. Benthic fauna received additional size information: macrofauna, meiofauna e microfauna (see item Life mode, below). Landscape/habitat photos do not hold size information, but if they are showing an specific organism (barnacles on rocky shore, for example) a size class is provided. Size classes are:

Size Description Example
<0,1 mm
Tintinnids with hyaline lorica +
Tintinnids with hyaline lorica
0,1 - 1,0 mm
neriliidae polychaete +
neriliidae polychaete
1,0 - 10 mm
10 - 100 mm
Nudibranch (sea slug) +
Nudibranch (sea slug)
>100 mm
Egret bird +
Egret bird

Photographic techniques

Different techniques used to capture the dataase images were divided in 4 categories.: submarine, macrophotography, landscape/seascape e microscopy. To embrace the variety of microscopy techiniques the latter was subdivided. This is the list of tags related to photographic techniques:

Technique Description Example
mev Scanning electron microscopy.
diving Photographs taken under water.
Marimbás +
macrophotography Detail shot with a hand-held digital camera, usually of an organism in aquarium.
Hidrozoário colonial flutuante, vista lateral - detalhe dos dactilozoóides +
Hidrozoário colonial flutuante, vista lateral - detalhe dos dactilozoóides
A Porpita é um hidrozoário colonial que vive flutuando na superfície do mar. Os pólipos estão arranjados concentricamente na superfície inferior de um disco central quitinoso. Há um pólipo grande central (gastrozoóide) e ao seu redor inúmeros gastro-gonozoóides, que são responsáveis pela ingestão de alimento e produção de medusas. Mais externamente, se distribuem os pólipos responsáveis pela captura de alimento e defesa, os dactilozoóides.
landscape Depicts an environment.
Summit of São Sebastião +
Summit of São Sebastião
Búzios island on the background.
confocal Confocal microscopy.
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit +
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit
polarized light Polarized light microscopy reveals birefringent structures.
Juvenile sea biscuit +
Juvenile sea biscuit
Aboral surface.
impregnação protargol Silver impregnation technique.
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica +
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica
Variation on lorica shape.
dic Differential interference contrast microscopy.
Auricularia larva of the sea cucumber +
Auricularia larva of the sea cucumber
dark field Oblique illumination and dark field.
Hydromedusa +
bright field Diffuse illumination.
Hydroid +
Colony on the hydroid Sertularia marginata.

Life stage

The organisms photographed are not always adults.

Stage Description Example
larva Post-embryonic stage that usually differs from the adult form in morphology, behavior, habitat, and others. Does not reproduce sexually.
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit +
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit
gamete A mature sexual reproductive cell (sperm or egg)
Polychaete dorvinelid +
Polychaete dorvinelid
juvenile Sexually immature organism that resembles an adult.
Juvenile sea biscuit after metamorphosis +
Juvenile sea biscuit after metamorphosis
Close up of lateral spines.
neriliidae polychaete +
neriliidae polychaete
metamorphosis Change in shape and/or body structure that occurs between the larval and juvenile or adult.
Sea biscuit metamorphosis +
Sea biscuit metamorphosis
Luz polarizada realça o esqueleto calcário mostrando a estrutura dos espinhos, pés e remanescentes do esqueleto larval.
embryo Organism in its early stages of development.
adult Sexually mature organism.
Nudibranch (sea slug) +
Nudibranch (sea slug)

Life mode

Each life stage of an organism may have a different way of life. Therefore, this classification refers to the lifestyle depicted in the image.

Pelagic Organisms living in the water column. Example
planctotrófica Feeding larva.
Tintinnid with agglutinated lorica +
Tintinnid with agglutinated lorica
pleustonic Organisms floating in the water surface.
Portuguese man-of-war +
Portuguese man-of-war
pelagic Organisms living in the water column.
Sergestid shrimp +
Sergestid shrimp
phytoplankton Any of numerous groups of aquatic, autotrophic organisms ranging from microscopic single-celled forms to multicellular ones, distinguished from plants by the absence of true roots, stems, and leaves.
Dinoflagelate +
nektonic Living dispersed in the water column, but capable of swimming.
planktonic Drifting organisms that inhabit the water column.
Tornaria larva +
Tornaria larva
Benthic Organisms living on or in the sea bottom. Example
benthic Organisms living on or in the sea bottom.
Hydroid +
Detail of hydranth and ligula.


We also indicate the habitat of each organism whenever possible.

Habitat Description Example
banco não vegetado
Nematoda +
Nematoda +
Anfídio espiral.
substrato artificial
Tubulariid hydroid +
Tubulariid hydroid
Female colony.
baixio não vegetado
Nematoda +
intertidal Coastal region only exposed at low tide.
Protodrilid polychaete +
Protodrilid polychaete
Peixe-morcego +
Peixe-morcego durante atividade alimentar noturna (note o ilício ou "isca" exposto sob o rostro).
mangrove Transition zone between land and sea, dominated by a typical vegetation that grows in areas that are frequently inundated with salt and fresh water.
Egret bird +
Egret bird
hard bottom
rocky-shore Transition between marine and terrestrial environments formed by rocks.
Peixes-lagarto +
sand beach Landform along the shoreline consisting sand, gravel, or pebbles.
Egret bird +
Egret bird
soft bottom
Kinorhynch +
infralittoral Permanently submersed coastal area.
Sea slug +
Sea slug


Tags that do not fit into other categories. Could be common terms frequently searched.

Others Description Example
introduced species A species living outside its native distributional range.
Brittle star +
Brittle star
Invasive brittle star on octocoral host.
paratype The type specimen used in the original description of a species.
holótipo The type specimen used in the original description of a species.
Hydroid +
invasive species Non-indigenous species, or "non-native", plants or animals that adversely affect the habitats and regions they invade.
Brittle star +
Brittle star
Invasive brittle star on octocoral host.
recruitment plate
Hydroid +
Colony on the green algae Caulerpa uvifera.
unicellular Organism having or consisting of a single cell.
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica +
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica
ameaçada de extinção
Budião, Peixe-papagaio +
Budião, Peixe-papagaio
Budião, Peixe-papagaio.
seto marine biological laboratory
Cubozoan +
Adult medusa.
cnidarian tree of life project
Hydromedusa +
symbiosis Organism living with, on, or in another, without injury to either.
Nudibranch (sea slug) associated with a bryozoan +
Nudibranch (sea slug) associated with a bryozoan
água-viva Any of various gelatinous aquatic organisms, particularly the medusa stage of cnidarians.
cebimar-usp Images produced at the Center for Marine Biology of the University of São Paulo (CEBIMar/USP).
Caprellid amphipod associated with a hydroid +
Caprellid amphipod associated with a hydroid