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 - 1.0 mm Embryos, larvae and planktonic creatures.
Saccocirid polychaete +
Saccocirid polychaete
<0.1 mm Unicellular organisms and details of multicellular organisms.
>100 mm Even larger organisms.
Red mangrove +
Red mangrove
10 - 100 mm Macroscopic organisms.
Marimbás e sargentinhos +
Marimbás e sargentinhos
1.0 - 10 mm Tiny creatures but visible at the naked eye.
Feather star +
Feather star
Pentacrinoid larva of a feather star on a hydroid (Eudendrium carneum).

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
diving Photographs taken under water.
Donzela +
Damselfish in the shadow of stone guarding the nest with eggs.
landscape Depicts an environment.
Alcatrazes archipelago +
Alcatrazes archipelago
macrophotography Detail shot with a hand-held digital camera, usually of an organism in aquarium.
mev Scanning electron microscopy.
Hydroid +
Colony on a brown algae.
Recruitment panels +
Recruitment panels
Mussels in co-existence with the black sea urchin.
bright field transmitted light illumination in which the sample appears dark in a bright background
confocal Confocal microscopy.
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit +
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit
dark field transmitted illumination in which the light beam scatters as it hits the specimen, so it appears bright against a dark background
Plankton +
Vista geral de uma amostra de plâncton vivo, em estereomicroscópio.
Differential interference contrast Microscopy technique used to enhance contrast in unstained, transparent samples (DIC).
Four-cell stage embryo +
Four-cell stage embryo
polarized light Polarized light microscopy reveals birefringent structures.
Juvenile sea biscuit +
Juvenile sea biscuit
Oral region.
protargol impregnation Silver impregnation technique.
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica +
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica

Life stage

The organisms photographed are not always adults.

Stage Description Example
adult Sexually mature organism.
Starfish spawning +
Starfish spawning
Exemplar adulto liberando esperma durante tarde de verão nos tanques do CEBIMar USP.
embryo Organism in its early stages of development.
Embryo with 16 cells +
Embryo with 16 cells
gamete A mature sexual reproductive cell (sperm or egg)
juvenile Sexually immature organism that resembles an adult.
Juvenile sea biscuit after metamorphosis +
Juvenile sea biscuit after metamorphosis
larva Post-embryonic stage that usually differs from the adult stage in morphology, behavior, habitat, and others. Does not reproduce sexually.
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit +
Pluteus larva of a sea biscuit
metamorphosis Change in shape and/or body structure that occurs between the larval and juvenile or adult.
Sea biscuit metamorphosis +
Sea biscuit metamorphosis
Polarized light highlights the calcareous skeleton showing the structure of spines, podia, and remnants of the larval skeleton.
neriliidae polychaete +
neriliidae polychaete
Polychaete dorvinelid +
Polychaete dorvinelid


We also indicate the habitat of each organism whenever possible.

Habitat Description Example
artificial substrate
Nudibranch (sea slug) +
Nudibranch (sea slug)
baixio não vegetado
banco não vegetado
hard bottom
infralittoral Coastal region permanently submerged.
intertidal Coastal region only exposed at low tide.
Saccocirid polychaete +
Saccocirid polychaete
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
rocky-shore Transition between marine and terrestrial environments formed by rocks.
Hydroid +
sand beach Landform along the shoreline consisting sand, gravel, or pebbles.
Egret bird +
Egret bird
soft bottom
Tardigrade +


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

Others Description Example
3d Image rendered in three dimensions.
3D projection of a sea biscuit pluteus larva 00:16 +
3D projection of a sea biscuit pluteus larva
Montagem de fotos de uma larva plúteos da bolacha-do-mar Clypeaster subdepressus mostrando sua tridimensionalidade.
alga Informal term for a diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms, including unicellular (microalgae) to multicellular forms, like kelps and sargassum.
Hydroid +
Colony on a red algae.
cebimar-usp Images produced at the Center for Marine Biology of the University of São Paulo (CEBIMar/USP).
Comb jelly or ctenophore 00:48 +
Comb jelly or ctenophore
cnidarian tree of life project
Scyphozoan +
Adult medusa
coral Marine invertebrates within the class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria, colonial or not, which secrete a hard, calcium carbonate skeleton.
Fire coral +
Fire coral
holotype The type specimen used in the original description of a species.
Hydroid +
Colony on the hydroid Lytocarpus filamentosus
introduced species A species living outside its native distributional range.
Brittle star +
Brittle star
Invasive brittle star on octocoral host.
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.
jellyfish Any of various gelatinous aquatic organisms, particularly the medusa stage of cnidarians.
Portuguese man-of-war +
Portuguese man-of-war
medusoid a reduced or vestigial medusa
Hydroid +
paratype The type specimen used in the original description of a species.
recruitment plate
risk of extinction A species that is likely to become extinct in the near future.
Robalo +
seto marine biological laboratory
Scyphozoan +
Adult medusa
symbiosis Organism living with, on, or in another, without injury to either.
Symbiotic copepod associated with a planktonic invertebrate +
Symbiotic copepod associated with a planktonic invertebrate
unicellular Organism having or consisting of a single cell.
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica +
Tintinnid with hyaline lorica