Some creatures are so bizarre, it seems like they can’t possibly be real, and that’s especially true of the amazing and terrifying wonders that lurk deep within the ocean. Apparently, there’s no end to the weird natural wonders the sea can serve up, including sharks that look like cartoons, squid with human teeth and crabs as big as cats.
Yes, that thing is real. The goblin shark is still fairly mysterious to science, as specimens are rarely found. It’s the last member of an ancient lineage, retaining several primitive traits, leading to its designation as a ‘living fossil.’ The most notable feature is its long, flattened snout, with prominent nail-like teeth, as well as its pale pink coloration. It can be found in oceans around the world at depths greater than 330 feet. Its poorly calcified skeleton and flabby muscles have led scientists to determine that it probably leads an inactive and sluggish lifestyle.
Deep Sea Hatchetfish
These ghostly deep-sea hatchetfish has evolved an unusual body shape as well as bioluminescent photophores, which allows it to match the light intensity of its body with the light penetrating the water from above, making it virtually invisible. This chemical reaction works in much the same way as that of the firefly. It has large, tubular eyes that point upward so it can search for food falling from above, distinguishing shadows against the faint illumination coming down from the surface of the sea.
(images via: gerrythomasen, snowpea&bokchoy)
Spilling out of too-small shells, these bloated monstrosities (pronounced ‘gooey duck’) live in little holes in the sand on beaches, and will spit water at you if you come too close, as seen in the video above. As disgusting and – well – graphic as they look, they’re apparently delicious. Geoduck clams sell for over $150 a pound in China, but their high price is partially due to the controversial practices required to harvest them. Geoducks are not only highly susceptible to environmental contamination, but farming them requires large systems of PVC pipes that can be harmful to the marine ecosystem.
Giant Coconut Crab
If this creature were a spider, it would be the stuff of almost every human being’s worst nightmare. Does the fact that it’s a crab make you feel any better? The coconut crab is the largest land-living anthropod in the world, found on islands across the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean. It can reach astonishing, terrifying sizes, weighing up to nine pounds and measuring three feet in length from leg to leg. It also has a sixty-year lifespan. It’s named for its habit of climbing coconut trees to pick coconuts, crack them open and eat their flesh. People like to eat them, too, so they tend to disappear quickly from areas inhabited by humans. Those claws aren’t just for decoration, though – they can deliver a nasty pinch.
Seen walking along the ocean floor, the appropriately named sea pig – a type of sea cucumber – is pale pink and translucent with a series of ‘legs’ which are really just fluid-filled tubes. Brought up out of the water, they seem like bizarrely fleshy-looking potatoes. Either way, they’re undeniably weird. Because they’re so fragile, they often break apart into gelatinous fragments when caught in nets.
Squid with Human-Looking Teeth
Say hello to Promachoteuthis sulcus, known only from a single small individual found deep within the depths of the south Atlantic Ocean. The most notable thing about this particular squid isn’t just that it’s unknown outside of this one sample: it’s that set of scarily human-looking teeth.
If you’re afraid of bugs, the Giant Isopod will give you the shivers. It’s essentially the marine equivalent of a wood louse, except that it reaches horrifying sizes of up to 30 inches in length, weighing as much as four pounds. They’re an example of deep-sea gigantism, developing at depths where there are few predators. They also have the remarkable ability to survive over four years without food. Like their terrestrial cousins, giant isopods can curl up into a ball so that only their tough shell is exposed.