Since the MBL was established in 1888, a variety of organisms have been drawn from the local waters to be studied. These organisms range in type, size, habitat, and more. Different organisms provide researchers with different opportunities, and demand for particular organisms has changed over time. As research questions changed, certain organisms have come into demand to answer these new questions in useful ways.
Crabs of all shapes and sizes can be found in the waters near the MBL, from hermit crabs to horseshoe crabs, these creatures have been crucial for research. Molluscs, mussels, scallops, and clams, have also been research staples, for example the softshell clam Mya arenaria is seen in collecting logs and other mentions throughout history.
Sharks make regular appearances at the MBL. Dogfish sharks are an important creature for research, but the occasional great white shark also shows up in Woods Hole waters. Cephalopods are also a mainstay at Woods Hole, with squidding being a main collecting mission in the summer months.
Sea urchins have been an important organism for studying development since the nineteenth century. Woods Hole is in a unique place that allows for extensive sea urchin collecting, especially while sea urchins are bearing their eggs, which are valuable for embryological research.