There are some exciting ocean dwellers out there, ranging from monstrous crabs to sea goblins. Here are some fascinating facts about some of the sea’s most enigmatic creatures.
Macrocheira kaempferi (Japanese Spider Crab)
A massive crab that resembles a spider. There’s no need to be afraid because they usually sit around 1000 feet deep. Spider crabs are the largest of all crustaceans and can live for centuries, if not longer! They are gentle giants who prefer to scavenge dead animals and plants, despite their intimidating appearance. They are decorator crabs, which adorn their shells with sponges or anemones for camouflage.
Anglerfish (family Lophiiformes)
Anglerfish are known for having a type of “fishing rod” at the top of their head that can light up, as seen in the film “Finding Nemo.” The anglerfish’s glow attracts unsuspecting fish, which are then gobbled up by the anglerfish’s massive mouth. Male anglerfish lack this ability because they use their sharp teeth to latch on to much larger females. He fuses with the female over time, losing all of his organs except the reproductive ones. Unfortunately, this strange-looking fish is becoming endangered because it is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.
Psychrolutes marcidus (blobfish)
In 2013, this poor fish was voted the ugliest animal. Not surprisingly, this poor fish was voted the ugliest animal in 2013. We think this gelatinous blob with no bones and almost no muscles is adorable! When the blob is in its natural environment — 3000 feet deep — it appears to be quite normal. It has adapted to the enormous amounts of pressure at this depth by keeping its shape. The water pressure is 120 times greater than at the surface down there in the dark, silent waters.
Somniosus microcephalus (Greenland shark)
Because we rarely see this mysterious shark, we know very little about it. It prefers cold arctic waters around 2000 feet deep. Greenland sharks are among the largest shark species, reaching lengths of 20 feet and weighing up to 2,500 pounds. They can also live to be very old. One shark is estimated to be around 512 years old. Greenland shark stomach contents have included the remains of polar bears, horses, moose, and, in one case, an entire reindeer. But don’t worry, they probably scavenged these animals because they are extremely blind and slow. Their meat is poisonous due to the presence of trimethylamine oxide (a natural antifreeze).
Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (colossal squid)
These titans look like they belong in a science fiction novel, but they live in our oceans at depths of around 3000 feet. They are truly massive, measuring around 32 feet long (the length of a school bus!) and weighing 1100 pounds. They are the largest known invertebrates (because we don’t know what else lurks in the depths). Their eyes can be as large as a dinner plate, measuring 10″ in diameter. Colossal squids have a beak, which is a hard structure similar to a parrot’s beak and is used to catch fish. The sperm whale is their only predator. When these two meet, it’s a genuine clash of titans. The squid does not go down easily, and many sperm whales bear battle scars from their meal.
Chiasmodon niger (black swallower)
At 9,000 feet (thirty times the length of a football field), this deep-sea fish can be found! This small, nine-inch fish is frightening not because of its size, but because of how it eats. They feed by consuming their prey whole, even prey twice their size. They accomplish this by using a massive jaw that can be extended to engulf their prey. When they become overly greedy and take on a large fish, the meal sits in the black swallower’s expandable stomach, releasing gases. This gas floats the black swallower to the surface, where it dies because it is not adapted to the low pressure at the surface.
Mitsukurina owstoni (Goblin shark)
Because it swam the oceans 125 million years ago, the goblin shark is also known as a living fossil. This was the time when the first primitive mammals appeared on the scene. The goblin shark got its name for obvious reasons, namely its creepy head with protruding sharp teeth. In fact, it has a lot of teeth: 53 rows on top and 62 rows on the bottom. It lives at a depth of about 4300 feet but has also been seen at 130 feet at night. It feeds by propelling its jaw forward. We could eat a piece seven feet away from our face if we could eat that way. Because of their translucent skin, they have a pinkish hue.
Albatrossia pectoralis (Giant Grenadier)
Because of its long, thin tail, the Giant Grenadier is also known as a rat-tail. It can grow to be 6 feet long! They have a gaping mouth and light-emitting organs to attract their preferred prey, the vampire squid (so-called because of its deep red color and cape-like skin). Grenadiers have a life expectancy of around 70 years. They have been discovered at incredible depths in the hadal zone, beginning at 6000 feet (19 times the height of the Statue of Liberty!). More people have visited the moon than have visited the hadal zone. It’s a desolate, dark place.