TERRIFYING DEEP SEA CREATURES
There are about 45 species of hatchetfish that vary in size from one to six inches. They are most well known for their extremely thin bodies that resemble the blade of a hatchet and ability to create their own light through a process called bioluminescence. These special light-producing organs are known as photophores, which run along the length of the body. Scientists predict that they can adjust the intensity of their lights to make them nearly invisible from predators.
Hatchetfish are found in most temperate waters around the world and at depths ranging from 180 to 1,370 metres.
Deep Sea Angler
Deep-sea anglers are considered to be one of the best-known creatures of the deep sea. There are about 200 species of anglerfish found throughout the world and its most distinctive feature is the dorsal spine that protrudes above its mouth like a fishing pole. They lure their prey with a bioluminescent lure at the end of the dorsal spine, and use their teeth to hold any prey that is helplessly lured in by the glowing light.
Anglerfish usually live about a mile below the surface where the water temperature is near freezing. Some anglerfish can grow up to 1 metre in length.
The Fanfish anglerfish or hairy anglerfish is distinguished from other anglerfish by the lack of the bioluminescent lure at the end of the dorsal spine, and by its long dorsal and anal fin rays. They have a small, spherical body with long protuberances, and long fin rays to sense movement in the water.
The black swallower is known for its ability to swallow fish larger than its own body. It can be found in a worldwide distribution in tropical and subtropical waters, up to depths of 2,743 metres.
The body of the swallower is elongated with a distensible stomach, capable of swallowing prey over twice its length and 10 times its mass. The stomach tissues of the swallower can stretch into thin transparency to hold these large prey. Sometimes, however, if the prey is too large and cannot be digested quickly enough, gases from decomposition will cause the stomach to expand and burst, killing the swallower.
Pacific viperfish can be found from 200-500 metres below the ocean surface. Their fangs are hinged and rotate inward, keeping the prey from escaping. Once the prey is captured, the viperfish will swallow it whole without chewing and slowly digest it, allowing to go as many as 12 days between meals. Pacific viperfish also have light-producing organs called photophores, and uses this light to attract its prey.
Grimpoteuthis (Dumbo Octopus)
Grimpoteuthis are commonly nicknamed as “Dumbo octopuses”, in reference to how the ear-like fins on top of its head resembles the ears of Walt Disney’s flying elephant, Dumbo. These fins are used by the octopus to flap itself upward and the tentacles are used to move in any direction. Grimpoteuthis are also known as “umbrella octopus”, as they are able to float like an umbrella.
This intriguing deep sea animal lives on the ocean floor at extreme depths of 3,000 to 3,960 metres. They grow up to 20 cm in length and have an average lifespan of about 3-5 years.
Scaleless Black Dragonfish
The scaleless black dragonfish is a bioluminescent fish that can be found at depths of 1,500 metres. Most of the body is without scales and luminescent organs run along the sides. One of their distinctive feature is the long protrusion on the chin known as a barbel, which is tipped with a light-producing photophore. In spite of the terrifying appearance, they are considered to be a small fish, measuring only about 15 centimeters in length.
Scaleless black dragonfish feed on small fish and crustaceans, as well as anything else they can find in the bottom of the ocean. They can flash their light-producing bodies on and off, attracting the attention of potential prey. Once it is close enough, the dragonfish snaps its powerful jaws and use their teeth to grab the prey.