Marine invertebrates comprise many groups of different organisms and occur from the sea surface to the seafloor and into the substrate.
They represent the vast majority of marine biodiversity and include, for example, sponges, corals, bluebottles, worms, shells, sea urchins, starfish, crustaceans, sea cucumbers and nudibranchs. Their size ranges from tiny microscopic organisms to several metres in length, and they have an amazing diversity of form.
Some invertebrates are commercially important, eg oysters, prawns, scallops and pearl oysters, whilst others, such as corals, are one of the major attractions for tourists. Even though all marine ecosystems depend on invertebrates for their continued functioning, large gaps remain in our knowledge relating to their taxonomy, biology and ecological requirements.
- Overview of the conservation of Australian marine invertebrates - Australian Museum, July 2002