Strange Creatures Abound in the Ocean Deep
Lurking in the pitch black ocean depths are 17,650 species that remained unknown ‘til recent years. Approximately 3 miles (5 km) below the ocean surface, these awesome creatures were discovered through cameras, sonar and other technologies.
What kinds of creatures live in such places? Rather odd ones, that’s for certain. Take the Jumbo Dumbo: a primitive finned octopod named for the large Dumbo-ear-like fins they use to swim. This particular octopod is one of the largest of its kind, measuring at a length of 6 ft (2 m); and it was found roughly between 3,280 and 9,840 ft (1,000 to 3,000 m).
Not odd enough for you? Then how about the See-Through Cucumber: a transparent sea cucumber that has a rather interesting ability to “bloom”. This strange creature was found at depths of 1.7 miles (2,750 meters).
Some deep-sea creatures also come with fur, like the Yeti Crab. These guys were named in reference to the yeti or abominable snowman, thanks to their fuzzy claws. They were discovered along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, living on hydrothermal vents located 7,200 ft (2,200 m) deep.
All of the 17,650 species that were discovered live in the darkest parts of the ocean; depths of 656 ft (200 m) or more, which have never seen the light of day. About a third of them were found deeper than 3,280 ft (1,000 m). If you’re wondering what creatures living in pitch black darkness eat: sunken droppings or leftovers, bacteria, sulfur, methane, and whale bones; hardly an appetizing meal for most.
Now, according to researcher Robert Carney:
“Typically, the deep sea is viewed as something beyond concern—a pit, a desert, a wasteland—but what we have found in our work is that there is an incredible diversity of species there, often with striking adaptations that we as yet don’t understand yet.”
One sample of sediment alone can hold more new species than known species, and such findings have grasped the interest of more than those in the scientific community. “There’s a lot of interest in bioprospecting there,” said oceanographer Paul Snelgrove, “pharmaceutical companies are really very interested in what deep-sea fauna have to offer, as they often produce unusual compounds”.
If you want to check out some of the weirder creatures that call the ocean depths home, click here to view a most interesting image gallery.
By Heidi Marshall