Travel Magazine

Earth's Strangest Animals: Marine Monsters

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

Here on Into the Wild we’re fascinated by the weird and wonderful. So this week we thought we would showcase some of the strangest animals that grace our planet with their odd looks, bizarre adaptations and gruesome survival techniques. Today is the turn of the monsters of the marine world…

Our oceans and seas remain some of the least explored and unknown areas on this planet of ours. In fact, more people have walked on the moon than have been to the very bottom of the Mariana Trench, which at nearly 7 miles deep, is by far the deepest part of Earth’s underwater world. In case you wondered, only two brave souls have ever ventured to this unbelievable depth (Don Walsh and Jaques Piccard). This impressive feat was achieved way back in 1960 and has not been repeated since.

So what might they have seen down there?

Giant Frogfish (Anglerfish)
 

What: The largest of its kind, the giant frogfish can measure up to 40cm in length. It is a master of mimicry and disguise, changing its color to blend into its surroundings.

Where: It is most commonly found around sponges, which it uses to camouflage its body whilst in wait for prey. Its distribution ranges from Southern Africa and the Red Sea to the tropical Eastern Pacific, north to southern Japan. Found extensively throughout Asia.

Features: Alternatively known as the anglerfish due to its odd method of hunting where a stalk protruding from between its eyes is sometimes used to lure prey closer. It then engulfs its victim whole with a lightning-fast attack. Consuming its food whole, its prey can sometimes be seen moving inside the body of the frogfish.   

Dumbo Octopus

What: This octopus belonging to the Grimpoteuthis family can measure up to 6ft in length.

Where: As a bathyal creature, this species lives at extreme depths usually between 3,000m and 4,000m. However, they have been found at the incredible depth of 7,000m. They are most commonly found at the bottom of the sea. It is thought that there are approximately 37 different types of Dumbo octopus.

Features: Obviously named after its uncanny similarity to the cartoon elephant, the Dumbo Octopus has two fins on eitehr side of its head which are used to propel the animal through the water. It is unlike other octopuses in that it consumes its prey whole.

Sea Pig

What: This peculiar looking animal is in fact a type of sea cucumber.

Where: Sea Pigs are found on the deep ocean floor (particularly on the abyssal plain) in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans where they behave a lot like terrestrial slugs.

Features: The leg-like appearance of this animal's tubular feet have given it the name of sea pig (along with its pink skin color obviously). These appendages are inflated through water cavities in the skin and are used to move in search of food amongst the mud.

Frilled Shark

What: A rarely seen species of eel-like shark.

Where: Although it has rarely been seen alive, the frilled shark has been found in a wide range in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Not much is known about this elusive species, but it is thought that it mainly dwells between depths of 50m-1000m.

Features: Often called a 'living fossil', the frilled shark has many peculiar features. It differs from other sharks in that its jaws are positioned terminally at the front of its head. Its first set of gills meet across its throat forming a collar-like appearance. The gills have a frilly appearance, giving this strange animal its name.

Fangtooth

What: This small deep sea-dwelling fish has some of the most menacing teeth in the ocean.

Where: The fangtooth is one of the deepest-dwelling fish in the ocean, found as deep as 5,000m. Their distribution is wide-spread throughout tropical as well as cold-temperate waters.

Features: The only thing you need to know about this monster is that it has some huge teeth. This commonly found feature amongst deep-sea dweeling species is thought to help animals prey on anything that might come along, including larger fish.

By Alex Prior

 


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