What lurks in the depths of the ocean? Creepy creatures, that’s what. Millions of them. Researchers say there could be as many as 10 million species in the sea, and considering we’ve only explored 5% of the ocean, we really have no idea of what’s creeping around on the ocean floor.
Most of us see have seen strange critters on TV, and a few of us have even a weird looking crusty right whale on a whale watching trip. But red-lipped batfish? No way. Piglet squid? Not a chance.
Though only an inch long, the tiny Phronima isn’t the nicest crustacean on the block. Females prey on small, barrel-shaped marine animals called salps by using their mouths and claws to devour its insides. Then, the Phronima lays her eggs inside the victim’s body cavity to create a mobile, gelatinous nest for her young.
Why so sad, blobfish? Well, the world’s most miserable-looking sea creature has a lot to be upset about. The blobfish, which lives at depths of up to 800m, is on the verge of extinction due to overfishing. Its south eastern Australia habitat is ripe with crabs, lobsters and other edible sea creatures, and as a result the blobfish, although inedible, is being dragged up with other catches by trawler fishermen.
The sinister-looking Atlantic wolffish makes its home in rocky coastal depths of up to 500 metres (1,600 feet) in the eastern and western North Atlantic. Because they live in nearly freezing waters, their blood produces a natural antifreeze! Wolffish can reach lengths of up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) and can weigh up to 18 kg (40 lbs).
The vampire squid’s Latin name, ampyroteuthis infernalis, literally means “vampire squid from Hell.” They reside at depths of 600–900 metres (2,000–3,000 feet), and in spite of their monstrous name, only reach a maximum total length of around 15 cm (6 inches). Vampire squid are a type of living fossil, meaning they have changed very little since they first appeared, before dinosaurs, about 300 million years ago.
Quite possibly the ugliest creature on the planet, anglerfish live lonely, lightless lives in the murky depths of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. They’re generally dark gray to dark brown in colour, with huge heads and enormous mouths that can gobble up prey twice their size. Female anglerfish have a built-in fishing rod—a piece of dorsal spine protruding above their mouths—that is tipped with a fleshy, luminous lure to attract prey. Male anglerfish have no need for such an adaptation because they are permanent parasitic mates. They latch on to a female with their sharp teeth, and, over time, physically fuse with her until nothing is left but the testes. Good times.
Red-lipped batfish, the Mick Jaggers of the sea, are found in deep waters near the Galapagos Islands. They walk the seafloor on modified pectoral and pelvic fins, and, like anglerfish, use a built-in fishing rod snout to lure prey close to their sexy lips.
This googly-eyed glass squid, named for its nearly transparent body, is usually found at depths of 900 m (2,953 ft) in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The light organs in the squid’s eyes and arms serve as lures to help it to locate mates in the inky depths.
Piglet Squid, the cutest squid around, are about the size of an orange. Little is known about them because they’re found more than 100 m (320 feet) below the surface, but scientists do know that these cute creatures have a habit of filling up with water and that they have large light producing organs behind both eyes.
The Dumbo Octopus, so named because of its resemblance to the Disney character, lives deep down in the ocean at depths ranging from 400 metres to as much as 4,800 metres. Its “ears” are actually fins that help propel it through the darkness.