From a fish with both its eyes on the same side of it’s head to a massive squid with swivelling hooks on it’s tentacles we take a look at the 10 weirdest sea creatures ever found.
The frilled shark is thought by some to be the original source of reports of sea serpents due to it’s long, undulating appearance. Dubbed the ‘living fossil’ this bizarre looking creature can grow up to 2 metres (6 ft 6 inches) in length. The frilled shark is believed to attack it’s prey by recoiling its body and lunging forwards like a snake. Interestingly, it has the longest gestation period of any known vertebrate taking up to 3 and a half years to give birth to its young.
The strange looking anglerfish gets it’s name from the unique way it hunts its prey. Dangling from it’s head is a fleshy growth known as an illicium, which the fish uses to lure its prey closer. The anglerfish can grow bigger than 1 metre (3 ft) and weigh as much as 45 kg (100 lbs). Sometimes called a frogfish due to its large mouth this unique predator has many inward-facing, fang-like teeth designed to grab and trap it’s prey.
The coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct around 66 million years ago until a local fisherman caught one of the coast of South Africa. This ancient fish has since been found off the east coast of Africa and more recently in the waters of Indonesia. The coelacanth is thought to have evolved into it’s current form about 400 million years old and is more closely related to reptiles and mammals than most fish of today. These prehistoric beasts can grow up to 2 metres in length and weigh a massive 90 kg (200 lbs).
Found in most coastal waters around the world, Hammerheads are a group of sharks known for their peculiar hammer-shaped heads. Growing up to 6 metres (19 ft 7 inches) these animals can be very aggressive using their razor sharp teeth to catch their prey. Hammerheads are solitary hunters by evening but spend their time in schools of up to 100 during the day. It is unclear what use the shark’s hammer head (known as a cephalofoil) plays but scientists believe it may help the animal with maneuvering, sensory reception or even catching their prey.
The flounder starts it’s life with one eye on either side of it’s head but then it undergoes a bizarre metamorphosis as it reaches adulthood. One eye slowly moves from one side of it’s head to the other and this strange fish spends part of it’s life with 2 eyes on the same side of it’s head! It then changes it behaviour and becomes a flat ocean floor dweller with both eyes now on the top of it’s head. It undergoes this change to protect itself from predators as it increases in size.
The strangely named sarcastic fringehead is native to the waters off the western coast of North America from San Francisco to Baja California. This fish gets its name at least in part from its unusual ability to extend its jaw outwards significantly increasing the size of it’s mouth! The sarcastic fringehead is extremely territorial and uses its gigantic mouth to fight off and discourage male intruders.
The Yeti Crab
The Kiwa hirsuta or Yeti crab was first discovered in 2005 living in the South Pacific Ocean. The crab’s oddly long and hairy claws are home to bacteria that are thought to protect the crab by detoxifying poisonous minerals in the water, spewed from the hydrothermal vents where the crab lives. This furry crab gets its name from Kiwa the goddess of the shellfish in Polynesian mythology.
This deep-sea shark belongs to the family of Mitsukurinidae, a lineage some 125 million years old. It is characterised by its pink flabby skin and long, sword-like snout. The jaws of this beast can protrude to almost the length of its snout, making it easier to swallow it’s prey. Its teeth are separated into two sections: the front ones are like thin, jagged nails and at the rear they are small and slightly flattened for grinding flesh. Luckily this gruesome looking shark swims at a depth too low to pose a threat to humans.
An inhabitant of the Southern Ocean, the colossal squid is the largest squid species on Earth measuring an astounding 14 metres (46 ft) in length. The eyes of this oceanic behemoth can be as much as 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter, making them the largest eyes of any animal in the world! This sinister deep sea dweller has long tentacles with suckers lined with small, sharp teeth and some even have swivelling hooks while others have three pointed prongs. It is unclear what the squid uses these hooks and prongs for but it is thought that they may be used for defence or help catching it’s prey.
This very weird animal inhabits the deep waters off mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. They live at depths between 600 and 1,200 m (2,000 and 3,900 ft) where the pressure is 60 to 120 times greater than at sea level. The blobfish is able to survive at such depths because its body is primarily gelatinous with a density slightly less than that of water. This allows it to float in water without exerting any energy. In 2013 the blobfish was voted the “World’s Ugliest Animal” and became the mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society.
They were some seriously weird sea creatures. What did you think? Can you think of any we missed?