Strange Creatures

Strange Creatures from the Ocean’s Depths

The deep sea is full of mysteries, and this is why it has captured our imaginations for centuries. People get scared of aliens, ghosts and zombies, but sometimes, the most terrifying creatures you can see in this universe lie beneath the dark depths of the waves on our very own planet. Actually, scientists know more about the surface of the moon than the ocean floor. Once you venture the deep parts of the sea that sunlight doesn’t reach, you may find yourself running into one of these scary and strange sea animals.

1. Blobfish

Having a strikingly jiggly appearance, the blobfish looks more gelatinous than your grandma’s pudding. It’s like the under the sea version of Grumpy Cat because it looks miserable. It has caught the attention of millions of people over the past several years and was even deemed as the world’s ugliest animal in 2013.

For the blobfish, sweet dreams are always a reality. Their lack of muscle tissue and lack of density means they don’t have to expend any energy or hunt prey to eat. They just need to open their mouth and let gravity do its job – they don’t need to move. They can eat everything that floats about plus the sea critters that enter its path. Sculpins fan their eggs to keep them free of sand. What a nice life.

2. Anglerfish

A black-and-white illustration of an anglerfish

The anglerfish is one of the most bizarre and fascinating sea creatures known to man. Imagine swimming under the ocean following a warm light, only to find out a big mouth with razor-sharp teeth directly behind it. This is what happens to the anglerfish’s prey (if you watched Finding Nemo, it’s what frightened Marlin and Dory). This fish is known for its wily predatory techniques, such as possessing a spine that grows on its glowing fleshy mass.

Deep-sea anglerfishes use their naturally-occurring light, which gets its glow from specialized bacteria, to lure other fishes. When scientists first discovered the angler, they noticed that almost all the anglerfishes they observed were female. It turns out, they use it to attract males who will bite unto the female to fertilize her eggs.

3. Fangtooth fish

The fangtooth fish is a menacing creature that is one of the deepest-living fish ever discovered. It was found as far down as 5,000 meters below sea level, where pressure is 500 times greater than land. It has the largest teeth of any marine species, considering its relative size to the body. Their teeth are disproportionally large that the fangtooth fish cannot close its mouth.

Fangtooth is like the underwater equivalent of a pitbull, but despite its threatening appearance, the fangtooth is actually benign. They have poor eyesight, so if they want to hunt for prey, they literally need to bump into it to find it.

4. Vampire squid

A creative illustration of a vampire squid

Despite its name and blood-red color, the vampire squid won’t suck your blood or any other blood for that matter. It got its name from its dark, webbed arms that looks like a cloak, and its mysterious characteristics. If you look closely, you’ll notice this creature has eight arms, each lined with rows of fleshy spines.

These species lurk in the lightless depths of the ocean at around 3,000 meters below the surface. The saturation of oxygen at this level is as low as 3%, but the species are able to thrive in these suffocating conditions. They prefer to chow down on dead plankton and other matter that finds its way to the deep ocean. They don’t produce ink like other squids, but instead, they expel a bioluminescent substance that disrupts predators.

5. Pacific viperfish

The head of a Pacific viperfish

Living in depths of 200 to 500 meters below the ocean surface during the day, the Pacific Viperfish is one of the fiercest predators in the deep. This fish can easily be recognized by its large mouth and sharp fangs that do not fit well inside the mouth. These fish use these sharp teeth to impale its prey by swimming at them at high speeds.

What’s interesting about the viperfish is that they are photophores, as their belly lights up to attract its prey through bioluminescence. They can lie motionless for hours, just waiting for a prey to swim by. Despite its ferocious appearance, the viperfish is relatively small – they reach only about 8 inches long.

6. Giant isopod

The underside of a giant isopod

Giant isopods are creepy crawlers in the deep that isn’t for those with a phobia of bugs. It’s a crustacean related to crabs, shrimp, and your friendly neighborhood pill bugs. But unlike its cousins, giant isopods can grow to more than 16 inches long. They could come straight from a horror movie. Plus, they have seven pairs of legs. They live at the ocean floor at depths of up to 2,100 meters.

These creatures are generally scavengers, but they are using their four sets of jaws to feed on live prey. Since food in the deep ocean floor is scarce, giant isopods can survive for long periods of time without food, but they will binge eat when they can.

7. Frilled shark

Frequently described as living fossils, the frilled shark has a shark-like head and a snake-like body. The oldest frill shark remnants were dated back to the early Pleistocene, which was more than 2.5 million years ago, and they changed so little since the pre-historic times.

Frilled sharks are seldom observed by humans, so scientists speculate that it captures its prey by bending its body and lunging forward like a snake, then swallowing its victim whole. Their species lurk deep in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at depths of 600 to 1000 meters.

8. Terrible claw lobster

By just looking at its photos, it would be pretty obvious how terrible claw lobster got its name. It’s a newly discovered species – it was first sighted in 2007, at around 250 meters below the surface off the east coast of the Philippines. It’s a creepy-looking lobster, but it’s incredibly tiny (only an inch long, minus the terrible claws).

Terrible claw lobsters, although having a fearsome appearance, are completely harmless to humans. They aren’t just small; they are also completely blind. It is considered as an extremely tiny variety of lobster.

9. Giant squid

A giant squid attached to a sperm whale

The giant squid is seldom seen by humans and has been a thing of legends for centuries. But they are real. Enormous species of squids around 10-14 meters long with a possible weight of up to 750 kg. have been seen. Giant squids are one of the largest invertebrates in the world. They also have the largest eyes documented in the animal kingdom, with scientists estimating it to 12-16 inches in diameter.

This deep ocean-dwelling creature grows to a tremendous size due to deep-sea gigantism. They exist at depths of 300 to 600 meters below, making them difficult to study live. Most of what scientists know about giant squid comes from dead squid carcasses that floated to the surface and were washed ashore or been pulled up in fishermen’s nets.

10. Stargazer fish

A stargazer fish in the sand

The stargazer fish is a creepy and frightening creature you don’t want to swim around, especially if you were to be a fish. It looks so weird because its eyes, nostrils, and mouth are all situated on top of its head, then it burrows its flat body completely underneath the sand to hide. It camouflages itself in the sand before popping up and using its gigantic mouth to suck in any prey that swims by.

Stargazer fishes live in both shallow and deep salt waters in the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to their cunning hunting tactics, they are also venomous.

11. Giant spider crab

You may think that spiders are the worst, but wait ‘till you see a ghoulish-looking species of a marine crab that looks like a giant spider. Creepy, right? Giant spider crabs are considered as the largest arthropods on the earth. Native to the waters of Japan, these giants can measure up to 12 feet from claw tip to claw tip, and they have the largest leg span of any invertebrate animal.

This giant creature is also known as the Japanese spider crab. They are living 300 meters deep in the ocean. They can survive even with three legs missing, and they have the ability to grow back their missing limbs. The giant spider crab is a large catch for any fisherman, and it’s even considered a delicacy

12. Goblin shark

A head of a goblin shark

A rare species of a deep-sea shark, the goblin shark is one of the relatively mysterious creatures in the deep ocean. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever see a goblin shark in your lifetime, even if you’re a diver. They prefer to confine themselves to the lower depths of the sea, often found at around 270 – 960 meters, up to 1,300 meters deep.

Like the frilled shark, the goblin shark is also called a “living fossil,” as it is the only representative of the family Mitsukurinidae, which is a 125 million-year-old family of sharks. The goblin is truly unique, yet also ugly. It has a long, flattened snout on protruding from the top of its head, protruding jaws and claw-like teeth that makes it remarkable in appearance. The general flabbiness of the goblin shark indicates that it doesn’t move around that much and prefer to confine themselves hidden from the public eye. In fact, one goblin shark was caught and brought to an aquarium in Japan, but it died soon after.

13. Sea cucumber

A dark sea cucumber
Created with The GIMP

Sea cucumbers can be found calmly crawling on the deep seafloor, sometimes even partially buried beneath it. They are echinoderms, just like the starfish and sea urchins, and they have around 1,250 known species. Many of these are indeed shaped like soft cucumbers, but unlike the tubular vegetable we like to put in our salads and our eyes, the sea cucumber is super flexible, thanks to its collagen levels. For instance, if the sea cucumber wanted to enter a tiny crevice, its collagen will loosen, effectively liquefying the sea cucumber to seep into its desired place.

This icky echinoderm lacks a true brain and any semblance of sensory organs, so their existence is somewhat mind-boggling. Nevertheless, they are helpful to the sea because they break down detritus and recycles nutrients that come its way. They are eaten in fresh or dried form in various cuisines, especially Asian.

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