Five fascinating creatures of the deep sea
EARTH’S oceans are a fascinating place and one of the few remaining areas of the globe which remain a mystery to humankind, despite it being the lifeblood of the planet.
Our oceans drive the weather, regulate temperature and support all living organisms.
Presently, less than five per cent of the ocean depths have been explored, which means there is still plenty we don’t know about them, or the creatures that inhabit them.
For that reason, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most interesting animals that live in the deep blue sea.
The goblin shark is a rare species of shark and the only extant species of the family known as Mitsukurinidae which dates back some 125 millions years.
For this reason the goblin shark is labelled a ‘living fossil’.
It’s elongated snout, translucent skin, and a row of nail-like teeth make for a terrifying visage, and it can grow up to four metres in length.
Thankfully, the goblin shark lives at depths of around 270 metres, so it’s unlikely you’ll come across one while paddling at the beach.
The giant isopod belongs to the family of crustaceans and are similar in physiology to crabs and shrimp, although they closely resemble the much smaller woodlouse.
Growing up to 36 centimetres in length, they are a good example of deep-sea gigantism, a feature common to many deep sea creatures, due to them being much larger than a typical isopod which grows to roughly five centimetres in length.
They are of little interest to most commercial fisheries, although they are eaten in Taiwan.
This scary predator receives it’s name due to the fleshy protrusion, known as an illicium, that juts from the top of it’s head and acts as a lure for it’s prey.
Like many deep sea creatures, some species of Angler fish are bioluminescent, which means their illicium produces light.
The angler fish will wriggle the illicium in order to resemble small prey, which lures other fish close enough so that the angler fish can consume them using their row of needle-like teeth.
The term ‘viperfish’ encompasses fish of the genus Chauliodus.
They are characterized by long, needle-like teeth and a hinged lower jaw, making their bite particularly deadly for their prey.
Similar to the angler fish, viper fish also use bioluminescence to lure their prey close, and they are capable of turning this natural light on and off like a light switch.
Interestingly, they also use this light to communicate with potential mates.
But with a face like theirs, surely only their mothers would love them.
Often portrayed in sailor’s myths and legends, most notably by the name of ‘kraken’, the giant squid is another species that can grow to tremendous size due to deep-sea gigantism.
With a maximum size of 13 metres, the giant squid truly is one of the wonders of the ocean, and has become even more legendary due to how rarely they are observed.
Like all squid, a giant squid has a mantle (torso), eight arms, and two longer tentacles.
The arms and tentacles themselves are lined with hundreds of serrated suction cups that the squid uses to attach itself to it’s prey.