The deep sea is one of the most alien, inhospitable places on planet Earth. With pressures that could easily squish any terrestrial being and temperatures that would make an Arctic winter seem balmy, the deep ocean shouldn’t be able to harbor any life. But, life always finds a way.
We know less about the deepest parts of our oceans than we do about outer space! The bottom of the sea might as well be another planet. The animals that have evolved to live there certainly look like they’re not from Earth, and they have developed some pretty far-out and strange ways to survive. Some of the world’s weirdest animals live in the deep sea. Here’s our list of the 5 strangest deep sea creatures!
One of the scariest looking deep sea creatures is the anglerfish. This demon-like fish is aptly named for the glowing lure that protrudes from its forehead. The anglerfish uses the fleshy growth to attract prey before chowing down with its incredibly long teeth. The glowing part of the lure is produced by bioluminescent bacteria encased in the tip.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the anglerfish is its mating ritual. Males are much, much smaller than females. They spend their whole life searching for a mate. Once they find a female, they latch on with their mouth and eventually fuse their whole body to their mate! Without attaching themselves to a female, a male anglerfish will never even reach adulthood.
The barreleye is one of the most alien looking creatures in the ocean. At first glance, you may notice that this fish doesn’t have eyes. After all, who needs to see when you live in almost pitch-black waters? Upon closer inspection, the barreleye has two massive, neon green spheres in the middle of its clear skull. What are those you ask? They’re eyes! Turns out, barreleye has two eyes that are locked in position, always looking up through its transparent head. This funny fish scans the waters above, looking for shadows that move above it in order to find its prey.
Unlike its name implies, the vampire squid doesn’t suck blood. It barely has suckers on its tentacles at all, even. The name of this squid comes from its intense red eyes and the cloak-like structure of its tentacles. The eyes of a vampire squid are the largest of any animal in the world, relative to its body size.
The depth at which this squid lives is called the “oxygen minimum zone”, and lacks enough oxygen to support aerobic metabolism. In theory, a squid shouldn’t be able to survive in this zone. Yet, the vampire squid doesn’t seem to care, and thrives in it!
The Megamouth shark is one of the rarest animals in the world. It was only observed for the first time in 1979, and has been seen fewer than 100 times since then! It’s been seen (or accidentally caught) in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, as well as off the southern coast of South Africa. For how rare this animal is, it’s certainly strange how large its range is.
Very little is known about the megamouth shark. Due to its enormous mouth and small teeth, it’s believed that the shark swims with its jaws wide open to catch plankton, like other filter feeders. The fact that so little is known about the megamouth shark makes it one of the strangest deep sea creatures.
The hagfish is a slippery, eel-like fish that lives on the seafloor. It’s the only living animal with a skull, but no vertebral column. If that’s not strange enough, the hagfish is infamous for the slime it produces from glands that run along its long body. When caught by a predator, or held by a human, the hagfish will secrete an unwieldy amount of mucus from its body. This allows it to slip free and escape. A single hagfish can quickly produce a whopping 20 liters (5.5 gallons) of slime! But how does this fish produce more slime than its own body can physically hold? That’s because the slime actually expands in water, of course! The slime of a hagfish once caused a one-of-a-kind, slippery disaster on a highway in Oregon.
So, why was a truck hauling hagfish anyways? Well, they were on their way to be eaten in Asia! That’s right, the hagfish keeps getting stranger. The slimy fish is actually a delicacy in Japan and Korea, and apparently cooking the fish in its own slime is the way to go.