The cosmos is not the only thing unexplored. The dark depths of the never-ending sea are the second most obvious example of this sort of thing. There are endless mysteries of fascinating environments, phenomena, flora, and fauna waiting out there in the oceans. Forget about the unexplored; the deep-sea creatures that we’ve already discovered are more than just a little intriguing. Here are 10 examples of the weirdest but interesting creatures found in the deep sea.
1. Frilled Shark
One of the gnarliest-looking creatures in the deep sea is the frilled shark. They can grow up to seven feet long, swim like an eel, and derive their name from the frilly-looking gills they have. They are prehistoric creatures, and their roots go back to 80 million years ago.
Even if they are named sharks, they swim in a wicked, serpentine fashion, much like an eel. They mostly prey on squids, fish, and other sharks, and are known for swallowing their food whole even if it’s large in size.
This organism got its name because of its six rows of gills present on its throat that look like ruffled collars. They are mostly found in a dark grey or brown color and have a flat head.
Unlike most animals, they do not connect to their young ones through a placenta and reproduce via internal fertilization.
Detailed research on these sharks is yet to be done as there have only been rare encounters with them. They only visit the surface of the water in search of food at night. They spend the rest of the time along the ocean bed. The very first clip of a frilled shark was only recorded in 2004. (1, 2)
The anglerfish is an angry-looking fish that features a curved appendage sticking out from its spine like a fishing rod in front of its mouth. This structure contains light-producing bacteria, and the fish uses this light to lure in prey and then devour them.
The fish with the unique “fishing rod” lives in the inhospitable habitat of the deep, lightless, bottom of the sea.
Until now, 200 species of anglerfish have been discovered in deep Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans. They are also found in the seas with shallow tropical environments. Generally colored dark grey or brown, the fish has an enormous head and crescent-shaped mouth with sharp, translucent teeth. Most of these fish grow only up to a foot, but some of them are also found to be over three feet in length.
The most distinguished feature of the angler fish is its “fishing pole” that rises from its spine and illuminates in front of its mouth. Naturally, other organisms are attracted to it and get eaten by the predator which has a mouth big enough to gulp down prey twice its size. However, this feature is only to be found in female anglerfishes.
The male population of the species forever looks for a host female. Using its sharp teeth, the male attaches himself to her body and eventually fuses entirely with her. The male loses his eyes and all his internal organs except testes during the process. A female anglerfish has the capacity to carry six or more males on her body. (Source)
3. Blobfish or The Fathead
The Psychrolutes microporous species of the blobfish is popularly considered as the world’s ugliest animal. The fat, disgusting and lazy-looking organism resides and feeds 4,000 feet deep in the ocean. Although, the popular Internet image of the creature is misleading. It only looks ugly when it’s dead.
A research vessel first made the discovery of this fish, also known as the “fathead,” in 1983 off the coast of New Zealand. They live in the depths of the ocean where the pressure is more than 100 times what we feel at the water’s surface.
After its discovery and a poll regarding the ugliest looking animal on the planet, the blog fish became a famous, Internet meme. In 2007, it was named “Mr. Blobby.”
However, the widespread image of the fish is quite misleading. Indeed the organism is squishy, has very soft bones and a few muscles, but it only appears ugly when brought to the surface. The actual living appearance of fish is not fully known since they appear only in the darkest parts of the ocean.
Decompression expands its body, makes the skin relaxed, and when the gelatinous tissues lose their structure, it collapses into a dull shapeless mass.
Scientists explain that, because of its fatty body, the fish swims in the deep ocean effortlessly just like oil floats on water. Water carries them so they literally swallow whatever edible passes by. (Source)
4. Whitemargin Stargazer
Above its pectoral fins, the whitemargin stargazer has double-grooved poison spines, which it uses to sting its prey. It also has an electric organ in its special pouch behind its eyes, which it uses to attack prey with up to 50 volts. The stargazer spends most of its time burrowed under the sand with only its eyes peeking up.
The whitemargin stargazer is a kind of fish that is found generally in relatively shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific region and off the coast of Queensland.
The fish has unique and fascinating hunting techniques. It waits for its food patiently in the sand with its eyes wide open. The creature is so fast that in a matter of milliseconds, it creates a vacuum in the water and grabs its meal quickly.
The poisonous spines on its shoulder blades not only help in hunting but also help to defend against large predators. The fish is also blessed with modified muscle cells called “electroplaques” that produce up to 50-volt shock like an electric eel.
If this wasn’t enough, the stargazer also has a tongue-like, long and furry structure which it can waggle and attract prey. It uses this appendage to trick its prey and bring them in, and then ambushes the prey using its venomous and electric techniques. (Source)
The porcupinefish has tough spines as long as five centimeters surrounding its body that are modified scales. It also can swallow up water to puff up its body into an orb when threatened. This discourages predators from trying to swallow the fish when it’s puffed up and even if they managed to do so, the spines would be poisonous for them.
The species look similar to its relatives, the balloonfish and pufferfish. However, the porcupinefish is different from the others in its appearance since it is uniformly grayish-tan in color, and it has spines around its body with black spots and a white belly.
This spiked fish can be found living in solitude near reefs, caves, and ledges while feeding on crustaceans and mollusks in the nighttime. An adult porcupinefish is usually 16 inches long, but the maximum length to which it can grow is 36 inches.
In normal circumstances, the spines lay flat around the body, but when sensing any threat, the fish bloats, and its spines straighten up. The spines also secrete poisonous substances, becoming an awful food choice for the predators.
When divers approach the organism, they retreat, however they are still captured and consumed in Hawaii and Tahiti. (Source)
Also read: 12 Dangerous Creatures That You Should Stay Away From at All Costs