It’s no secret that the deep blue sea is home to some of the most unusual and fascinating ocean creatures on our planet. But some of those creatures outstrip the rest in their habits and appearances. From the wolffish to the blobfish, these incredible ocean creatures are sure to stimulate your imagination over what else could be residing in the abyssal depths of the oceans.
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The wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), is native to the North Atlantic Ocean and is known for its unique appearance. It is also known by other thought-provoking names like devilfish, wolf eel, and seawolf. Unfortunately, their numbers are depleted due to overfishing and the practice of bycatch in which un-targeted marine life is swept up into nets. One of their most exciting attributes is the natural antifreeze their bodies produce to keep their blood moving. Their habitats are cold making this ability critical.
The largest wolffish every recorded measured in at 5 ft or 1.5 m in length. It weighed almost 40 lbs, or 18 kg.
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The clown frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) is not to be outdone by any other unusual specimen on this list. It has a stunning appearance, with a globular body and skin covered in spinules, and many wart-like growths. It is part of the Antennariide family and maintains the ability to change color and pattern in different environments. They are usually somewhere between white and black, but there are many examples of the fish becoming yellow, red, brown, and pink.
Credit: Alexei Orlov. No changes made
The gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoide) is also known as the pelican gulper or the umbrella mouth-gulper. They level at incredibly deep levels of the ocean and are rarely seen alive by human beings. When removed from their environment, the lack of pressure distorts their bodies, meaning that it is hard to describe their features accurately. Despite this, it’s clear they have large, loosely hinged mouths that are around a quarter of their entire body length. It has very small eyes, especially compared to other deep-sea ocean creatures, and a long, thin tail that’s often compared to a whip.
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The viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) has recognizable long, needle-shaped teeth and a distinctive lower jaw. They’re usually around 12-23 in or 30 to 60 cm in length. The viperfish live in the depths of the ocean, in temperate or tropical waters. They lure in their prey with photophores or light-producing organs. They are located along the sides of its body and at the end of the dorsal fin spine. The light flashes on and off, not unlike the anglerfish. Viperfish can vary in color from green to black and can live, scientists believe, up to forty years in the wild. Unfortunately, they seem incapable of surviving in captivity to allow for any intensive study.
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The red handfish (Thymichthys politus) is a remarkably unusual member of the genus Thymichthys. It is found in Frederick Henry Bay in Tasmania. It is distinguished by its small wart-like growths that cover its body and pectoral fins that look like hands and that it uses to walk on the seafloor. These ocean creatures are usually bright red and are now confined to a small region in two reefs in Tasmania. The IUCN lists them as critically endangered.
The blowfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), also known as the smooth-head blobfish, is one of the best-known entire son this list of the strangest marine creatures. Its distinctive face has brought it much fame among lovers of the unusual. It was lovingly voted the earth’s most hideous species in an online poll. It lives in the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania as well as around New Zealand. They are less than 12 in or 30 cm long and live between 2,000 and 3,900 ft or 600 and 1,200 m below the surface. Their flesh is gelatinous with less density than water. This allows it to float above the seafloor without expending any energy.
Credit: Andrew Thurber
The yeti crab, or Kiwa hirsuta, was first discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. They are approximately 15 cm or 5.9 inches long, with distinctive setae covering their thoracic legs and claws. These setae resemble hair, and in combination with its otherwise light coloring, it was named the yeti crab or yeti lobster. Their eyes lack pigment, suggesting that they are blind, and it can use its pincers to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water, a process known as chemosynthesis.
Credit: Nick Hobgood
The name “sea pen” refers to any of 300 species of the order Pennatulacea, one of fourteen families in that order. They are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. The name comes from their unusual appearance, said to resemble a quill pen. The lower part of the ocean creature anchors itself into the colony in the seafloor and the upper part, known as the rachis, has polyps or braches with polyps. They are usually red, orange, yellow, or brown in color and come in a variety of shapes, some of which definitely do not resemble pens.
The barreleye fish or spook fish (Opisthoproctus soleatus), are small deep-sea ocean creatures found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The fish gets its name from the shape of its tube-like eyes that are usually pointed upwards in order to keep an eye on prey. Their truly distinctive feature tough is the fact that their heads are transparent and dome-shaped. Scientists believe this allows them to take in more light than the would otherwise. Their mouths are toothless and their bodies, when alive, are dark brown covered in silver scales.
Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer
The dumbo octopus is named for its resemblance to Dumbo, the elephant from the 1941 animated Disney film, Dumbo. It has ear-like fins that protrude above each eye. They live for between three and five years in the abyssal depths, from 3,000 to 6,000 m or 9,800 to 20,000 ft below sea level. They have been found off the coast of Oregon, in the United States, as well as in the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and more. They are one of, if not the, deepest living octopus known to humankind. One was even found in the Java Trench, around 7,000 meters in depth, in 2020.