Many of the deep sea creatures listed below resemble plants, cuddly aliens or weapons. They are rarely seen by humans and we are lucky enough to have the modern technology to capture them in their native habitats.
Giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteus)
1.About 5000 species of isopod crustaceans live in our oceans worldwide. They can be identified by four sets of jaws, two sets of antennae and compound eyes which help them to find food and avoid danger.
They are instantly recognisable through their structured, segmented bodies and multiple sets of legs for swimming and walking.
Incredibly, they also have five paired structures branching out from their abdomen that allow them to breathe.
The huge 2.5 foot Bathynomus is an example of a giant species that lives in cold water, 8000 feet in the Pacific and Atlantic. A scavenger, it feasts on dead sea life.
Leafy sea dragon (Phycodurus eques)
Second on the list is an unusual green and yellow, graceful creature. It measures around 14 inches in length and is known commonly as the leafy sea dragon.
A close relative of the sea horse and pipefish, the sea dragons live camouflaged as seaweed with their long green and yellow appendages.
Their diet consists of sea lice, and their males incubate the eggs, in a similar way to the male sea horse. You can find this creature in Eastern and Southern Australia waters.
Chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)
For around 500 million years the chambered nautilus cephalopods have lived in the Indo-Pacific and are now endangered.
Their shells are made from buoyant air-filled chambers, with the largest chamber containing the eight armed animal itself.
Nautilus tentacles (cirri) help the creature scavenge dead creatures from their shells on the sea floor.
Taking a year to hatch, their eggs are the largest of all the invertebrates.
Giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
The giant Pacific octopus can be found in California, Alaska and Japan. It’s a solitary creature and is the biggest known example of its kind. The biggest recorded creature weighed in at 600 pounds and as reported by Oceana, was 30 feet long. It can blend into its background and even squirt ink to threaten other rivals.
A sharp beak developed in the first four to five years of life helps it attack lobsters and smaller species of shark, which make up its main diet.
It has nine brains and 3 hearts, which is common in octopi.
The pigfish actually includes a family of nine different species found at around 2000 feet deep in the cold waters of the Southern Hemisphere. A South African variant of the pigfish can shed its skin and the family, unusually for fish, does not have scales. The fish have long noses, similar to the Florida hogfish which uses its nose to forage for prey on the sea floor.
Shaggy frogfish (Antennarius hispidus)
A shaggy frogfish may look like a bright Muppet but it is a dangerous predator and can swallow prey up to its own size. It can remain camouflaged as shown in this video, and then will gobble up any fish that swim by. It has a pom-pom shaped lure on its head which attracts potential meals.
Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
Hammerhead sharks exist worldwide at 1000 feet. The largest species can become 18 feet long and its famous rectangular head can find prey through detecting thermal, electrical and chemical changes in the water. (MarineBio).
Its diet is crab and stingray.
A female may produce up to 56 pups. They hatch in her body and like all sharks, can often be misunderstood.
Lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles)
Lionfish may spawn up to 2 million eggs each year and they are top predators in the deep ocean. They have found their way from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean and Atlantic through the aquarium trade, and destroy native species along the way. They can cause paralysis through to milder sweating in humans, with up to 32 colored spines.
Stargazer fish (Uranoscopidae)
Stargazer fish are from the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters and the 50 species have eyes, mouths and nostrils on top of their head. This allows good prey perception so the fish can strike from below. The Florida Museum states that they can produce venom and cause electric shocks.
The rare genus of viperfish live at depths of up to 3000 feet and are rarely seen. An example is shown in this engraved ancient image on a Congolese postage stamp.
Their jaws can open like a hinge at a 90 degree angle and the sharp teeth resemble needles.
An Australian species of viperfish is 40 million years old and has teeth so large they don’t fit in its head. They are the largest known teeth relative to a fish species’ head.
Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi)
Spider crabs can be found in Pacific, Japanese waters, up to 1800 feet deep. They may grow to 12 feet in size from claw tip to claw tip and are very long-lived. Over around a hundred years some of them may lose limbs during the fight to survive. Spider crabs are the world’s largest arthropods.
Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus)
The wolf fish is found in the North Atlantic and can be around five feet long with protruding teeth. They live in rocks around Maine, USA, and eat molluscs, sea urchins and crabs. They have very strong jaws which allow them to crush any shell.
The sixgill shark is an extreme deep-dweller (around 8200 feet down, according to National Geographic). At night it feeds from the surface of the water, and this includes other sharks as well as crabs, squid and rays.
As can be seen, humans have shared the earth with some extremely unusual yet beautiful animals for thousands of years. It is strange to think that until very recently, most of the world didn’t know they existed.
Fortunately we can admire them at a safe distance and are lucky enough to have clear and vibrant footage.
It is so vital that we work to preserve their natural habitats so as to enjoy these animals for generations to come.