Taxonomy Chart of Marine Life

 

Taxonomy attempts to group all forms of life into a Kingdom, Phyla, Class, Order, Class, Family, Genus and Species. There are hundreds of thousands of marine organisms with species names - that's a lot of diversity! This marine taxonomy chart attempts to give you an idea of the kind of animal life you may see as a snorkeler, scuba diver or underwater photographer.  

 

Disclaimer: this chart of underwater marine life is not complete, and may not be completely accurate, as DNA phylogenetic analysis is causing some of these relationships to be restructured, and scientists often disagree. Also, the order these groups appear in is not meant to imply that one group is more "advanced" than another.

 

Marine Invertebrates

 

Porifera

   Calcarea

      Sponges with calcium carbonate skeleton

   Hexactinellida

      Glass sponges, with silica spicules

   Demospongiae

      The majority of sponges are in Demospongiae, with silica spicules

    
Cnidaria

   Hydrozoa

       Hydroids, hydrocorals, siphonophores, hydromedusas, portuguese man-o-war

   Scythozoa

       True jellyfish

   Anthozoa

       Anemones, sea pens, sea pansies. corals, sea fans

        Octocorallia

            8-way symmetry; Octocorals, Soft corals, Gorgonians, Sea pens, Sea pansies

        Hexacorallia

            6-way symmetry

            Ceriantharia

                  Tube anemones

            Actiniaria

                  Anemones

 

            Antipatharia

                  Black corals

            Corallimorpharia

                  Corynactis

            Scleractinia

                  Stony Corals (true corals), cup corals

            Zoanthidea

                  Zoanthid anemones

   Cubozoa

         Box jellies

Ctenophora

         Comb Jellies

Annelida

   Echiura

         Spoon or Echiuran worms

   Hirudinea

          Leeches

   Polychaetea

         Polychaetes (sea mouse, christmas tree worm, featherduster worm, etc.)

Mollusca

   Bivalvia

          Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Scallops

   Gastropoda

          Snails, nudibranchs, abalone, limpets

   Cephalopoda

         Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish

   Polyplacophora

         Chitons

Platyhelminthes

   Flatworms

Sipuncula

   Peanut or Sipunculid worms

Nemertea

   Ribbon worms

Arthropoda

   Crustacea

         Maxillopoda

         Copepods, barnacles, branchiurans (sea lice, often on fish)

         Malacostraca

         Lobsters, shimp, caprellids, krill, amphipods, isopods, mysids

         Pycnogonida

         Sea spiders

 

Chaetognatha

      Arrow worms (rarely seen, often small and planktonic)

 

 

Brachiopoda

        Brachiopods

 

Bryozoa

         Bryozoans



Phoronida

         Phoronids

Echinodermata

   Echinoidea

         Urchins

   Crinoidea

         Feather stars

   Asteroidea

         Starfish

   Ophiuroidea

         Brittle stars

   Holothuroidea

         Sea cucumbers

 

Hemicordata

         Acorn worms (rarely seen, usually in burrows)

Chordata

Tunicata

   Ascidiacea

         Sea Squirts (Ascidians), sessile tunicates

   Thalicea

         Salps (pelagic tunicates)

   Vertebrata

      Agnatha

         Hagfish & Lampreys

      Chondrichthyes

         Sharks & Rays

      Osteichthyes

         Bony Fish 

            Anguilliformes

            True eels - Moray eel, Snake eel, Conger eel, Ribbon eel

            Clupeiformed

            Herrings, anchovies

            Gadiformes

            Cods

            Aulopiformes

            Lizardfish

            Ophidiiformes

            Cusk eels, pearlfish, brotulas

            Atheriniformes

            Silversides; Topsmelt, jacksmelt

 

            Lophiiformes

            Frogfish, Angelfish

            Gobiesociformes

            Clingfishes

            Syngnathiformes

            Pipefish, sea horses

            Pleuronectiformes

            Flatfish

 

            Tetraodontiformes

            Filefish, Pufferfish, Triggerfish, Boxfish, Mola mola

            Scorpaeniformes

            Scorpionfish, rockfish, lionfish, sculpins, poachers, greenlings, lingcod, combfish

            Perciformes

            Most other fish; bass, gobies, mackeral, perches, wrasses, wolf-eels, barracudas, drums, angelfish, ronquils, surfperches, kelpfish, butterfly fish, blennies, basslets, cardinalfish, groupers and more

 

      Reptilia

             Marine iguanas & turtles, crocodiles, sea snakes

 

 

     Aves

            Pelicans, Cormorants, Penguins, Albatross, Gannets, Puffins

 

      Mammalia

            Dolphins, Whales, Sea Lions, Seals, Sea Otters, Manatees, Dugongs