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Invertebrates are animals without a backbone. Hundreds of species of invertebrates live in the Chesapeake Bay.

Some invertebrates, like oysters and blue crabs, are well-known and easy to recognize. Other invertebrates are not quite as familiar to most of us. For example, worms and copepods are some of the most abundant animals in the Bay, but humans rarely see them. These small invertebrates are an important food source for larger fish and shellfish.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the invertebrates that live in the Chesapeake Bay.

Arthropods have an exoskeleton (an external skeleton) that they molt to grow. Crustaceans are the Bay's most common arthropods. Horseshoe crabs are also arthropods, but they are not crustaceans; they are more closely related to terrestrial spiders and scorpions.

Mollusks include bivalves, gastropods (snails) and cephalopods (squid). Most mollusks have at least one shell. They also have a foot, which allows them to move.

Worms, sponges, corals, tunicates and echinoderms are just a few of the many other types of invertebrates that live in the Bay.

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