8 of the Strangest Aquatic Creatures

8 of the Strangest Aquatic Creatures

The ocean is home to some of the most exotic and diverse creatures on planet earth, yet as we descend below 500 metres, we encounter creatures unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Here are just a few of the creatures that inhabit the void:

Fangtooth Fish (Anoplogaster cornuta)

Commonly found: WorldwideFangtooth

The Fangtooth is undoubtedly one of the scariest looking creatures in the ocean. With it’s disproportionately large fangs and ghostly appearance, few can deny this fish is one of the strangest.

Contrary to it’s menacing looks, the Fangtooth fish is rather harmless and rarely encounters humans as it lives up to 5000 m (16,000 ft) beneath the sea. The Fangtooth often swims up from it’s depths under the cover of night to search for prey closer to the surface.

Scale Worm (Polynoidae)

Commonly found: Atlanticscale_worm_jaws

Scale Worms are a type of Polynoidae. Polynoidae exist in practically every ocean on earth and most are pretty unremarkable. Scale Worms however, exist around hydrothermal vents on the sea floor around the mid-Atlantic ridge. This makes Scale Worms extremely resilient creatures as the ambient ocean temperature near one of these vents can reach up to 460°C!

The Scale worm’s real party trick however, happens when it finds food. These strange creatures have evolved an eversible pharynx, which essentially means their throat can turn inside out and shoot out of their body, striking their prey. Weird!

Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni)

Commonly found: Japan

Goblin sharks have got to be the strangest species of shark ever discovered. Rarely encountered by humans, the Goblin shark can be found in relatively deep waters near Mount Fuji off the coast of Japan.

This particular species of shark sports a large, beak like appendage covered in millions of bio-electromagnetic receptors. The goblin-sharkgoblin shark has evolved these cells as an efficient means of locating prey in a habitat pretty devoid of life and can sense even the tiniest electrical impulses given off by all living creatures.

Just like the scale worm, these sharks also have an eversible pharynx, which is a very useful evolutionary trait for hunting in sparsely populated areas of ocean.

The Japanese coastline has one of the deepest waters in the world and is home to many weird and wonderful species. Due to the remoteness of this area of ocean, many of these species remain unchanged since prehistoric times and are essentially living fossils!

Scotoplanes (Sea Pigs)

Commonly found: Worldwidesea-pig

Not actually a pig, but a sea cucumber, Scotoplanes are up there with the bizarre organisms that inhabit our planet’s most inhospitable environments.

Despite being a pretty uncommon creature as far as observations are concerned, sea pigs are actually the most abundant deep sea organism, comprising 95% of the biomass of all deep ocean creatures. They grow to between 4 and 6 inches and can have up to 7 tube-like appendages that it uses as legs to traverse the ocean floor.

Deep Sea Isopods (Bathynomus giganteus)

Commonly found: Atlantic/Pacific/Indian Oceanisopod

These funny little fellas, like most of nature’s weirdos, reside at the bottom of the ocean. These crustaceans resemble giant marine woodlice and can grow up to 2.5 ft long!

Scientists have long puzzled as to why these subaqueous creatures grow to such gargantuan proportions. Known as deep-sea gigantism, marine biologists believe this phenomenon occurs due to low temperature and hydrostatic pressure on the ocean floor.

 

Pacific Viperfish (Chauliodus macouni)

Commonly found: Worldwideviperfish

It seems, as one ventures deeper, creatures become more peculiar and the Pacific Viperfish is no exception.

On first glance, the Viperfish bears resemblance to the Fangtooth fish with it’s milky eyes, translucent skin and ghostly appearance. However, the Pacific Viperfish has a very intriguing method when it comes to catching it’s dinner.

This deep sea dweller sports a long dorsal fin tipped with a photophore; a bioluminescent organ designed to attract smaller fish and organisms. The Viperfish casts it’s photophore back and forth, drawing it’s prey out of the murky depths.

Megamouth Shark (Megachasma pelagios)

Commonly found: Japanmegamouth

This unusual species of shark has remained a mystery until very recently. First discovered in 1976 off the coast of Hawaii, the Megamouth is one of the world’s most elusive species of shark, with only 60 specimens ever recorded.

This species of shark feeds mostly on plankton and small invertebrates, just like it’s surface dwelling cousin the basking shark. Since there are very few fish in this creature’s neck of the woods, the Megamouth has adapted very well to it’s environment.

So much so, that it has evolved a trait found in no other species shark on the planet. The Megamouth actually produces a bioluminescence (just like the Viperfish) inside it’s mouth. As if that wasn’t strange enough for a shark, the roof of it’s mouth contains a highly reflective material designed to reflect and refract the bioluminescence, so as to attract creatures into it’s mouth.

Striated Frogfish (Antennarius striatus)

Commonly found: WorldwideHairy_Frogfish

The Striated Frogfish, also known as the Hairy Frogfish is a small fish commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical waters. Whilst it may appear hairy, these hairs are actually dermal spinules (spiny skin) and also features a lure-like dorsal spine (again, like the viperfish but minus the bioluminescence).

The strangest thing about this particular fish is that it cannot swim very well. Instead, it uses it’s pectoral and pelvic fins to walk or ‘shuffle’ along. Due to it’s lack of mobility, the Striated Frogfish is an ambush predator, lying in wait with it’s lure set, waiting to strike.

What’s your favourite strange, aquatic creature? Let us know in the comments below!

 

This post was written by Hayley at Swallow Aquatics


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