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12 Strange Deep Sea Creatures

Submitted by xmesox on 2009-07-17 | Last Modified on 2010-08-27

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This list of 12 strange deep sea creatures will go through some of the most unusual deep sea creatures to be discovered. The ocean is thousands of meters deep and expands hundreds of thousands of kilometers, man has yet to explore many of these areas and as such there are likely numerous deep sea fish which we have yet to discover.

Life for these deep sea creatures is a lot different to those which lurk in the shallows of the oceans. Deep sea fish have different needs when it comes to diet and as such they have adapted through evolution to manage living in such a harsh environment. Some common evolutionary features in deep sea creatures are as follows:

  • The use of lights on their body (bioluminescence).
  • The use of transparency.

The name for the ability for a deep sea fish to be able to generate its own light is called 'Bioluminescence'. The process of bioluminescence involves the fish using natural chemicals within its body and mixing them to create a blue glow, the reason for the light being blue is due to the fact that blue light is most effective in the water. This process is a prime example of how evolutionary progress can go against the odds to turn given conditions into conditions which support an animal’s needs. The details of bioluminescence differ between fish and some deep sea creatures have constant lighting while others have the ability to use their bioluminescence electively.

The process of deep sea creatures turning their bodies transparent is also used in the oceans deepest waters. They use this tactic in the hopes that they can escape being seen by some predators. Though there is one fish named the "Barreleyes" or Macropinna microstoma which uses transparency as a means of being able to keep an eye on the happenings around it. The Barreleyes has a transparent head and the ability to rotate within its skull. For more information on the Barreleyes fish you can view Discovery's article named: “See A Fish With A Transparent Head”.You may recognize some of the deep sea creatures from a previous article on the World's 8 Rarest Fish. We will begin with the Black Lizardfish.

Black Lizardfish

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This fish also goes by the name of the 'Deep-water Greeneye' and can be found in some of the world's deepest oceans in the southern hemisphere. The Black Lizardfish, which is one of the strangest looking deep sea creatures lives at depths between 1500 and 3000 meters (up to almost 10 000 feet). The Black Lizardfish may not be one of the largest deep sea fish and only grows up to depths of around 30 centimeters. They are usually found along the ocean floor, their dark purple and black bodies blending into the darkness which reigns supreme at the deep depths. The Black Lizardfish also has extremely sharp razor-like teeth.

Black Swallower

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The Black Swallower is another extremely strange looking deep sea fish which lives at depths around 1500 meters below the surface. The Black Swallower unlike most of its counter-parts on this list do not require the extremely cold waters that many other deep sea fish too. But rather is can also be found in the deep waters of tropical oceans. The Black Swallower is another fairly small fish which grows to a length of around 25 centimeters. The Black Swallower is an example of a deep sea creature with the ability to use bioluminescence. The Black Swallow has the amazing ability among deep sea fish as it can stretch its stomach to three times its original size.


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Not to be confused with the 'Chimera' , a mythological creature- The Chimaera lives at depths in excess of 2500 meters and is extremely rare. This deep sea creature is one of the larger of deep sea fish and can grow in excess of 150 centimeters long (1.5 meters). The Chimaera belongs to the same family as both sharks and rays but has a smooth skin along with a spike containing venom which it uses for protection.

Vampire Squid

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This strange deep sea creature grows to a maximum length of only 30 centimeters and is another fairly small animal. The Vampire Squid lives in very deep seas usually in excess of 700 meters. It is the only cephalopod that is capable of surviving at these depths as oxygen saturation is as low as 3%. The Vampire Squid is also another deep sea creature to use bioluminescence and has an unusual defensive measure of allowing itself to glow and then proceeding to wave its arms around as to detour the predator. There are few images of these deep sea fish around but they can be distinguished by their webbed tentacles.


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This deep water fish is noted for its hinged jaw and extremely sharp and thin teeth. They can grow to lengths of 60 centimeters and can be found in both extremely deep depths while also being found in more moderate depths of around 100 meters. The Viperfish tends to remain in deeper depths during the day and then ascend to more shallow depths during the night time. They are known to vary in colour, though are typically black, silver or green. Little is known about the Viperfish's ability and breeding due to the fact that while they can survive up to 30 meters in a natural habitat they only live a few hours in captivity.


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One of the largest strange deep sea creatures, the Oarfish is known as the world's longest Osteichthyes in existence. The Oarfish can reach lengths in excess of 10 meters. Due to its large size and serpent like looks, the Oarfish has been the origin of plenty of marine tales about sea serpents. The Oarfish is rarely captured alive and most sightings of Oarfish have been when they have washed ashore. This deep sea fish is believed to live in depths usually around the 1000 meter mark. The Oarfish has no visible teeth but would be an extremely frightening fish to witness in the water.

Giant Isopod

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These extremely strange sea creatures can be found at depths between 200 meters and 2000 meters. They are closely related to pill bugs, the small similar looking bugs often found in gardens. They also use the same defensive technique, rolling into a ball for protection, the clear difference being that pill bugs are only about the size of a pea, while the Giant Isopod can grow up to nearly 40 centimeters long and weigh in at 1.5 kilograms. Another key feature about the Giant Isopod is the highly reflective eyes it has. They tend to scavenge the sea floor waiting for the remains of other predator’s meals to fall to the floor.

Firefly Squid

View Video of Firefly Squid

The Firefly Squid also goes by the name of the Sparkling Enope Squid. The Firefly Squid can be found at depths less intense than some of the other deep sea fish on the list, but still far beyond the realms of scuba divers. The Sparkling Enope Squid can be found generally in waters between 200 and 500 meters and is a prime example of deep sea creature which uses bioluminescence. The light show which the Firefly Squid displays when attracting a mate is unbelievable as almost the entire body glows a magnificent blue. The Firefly Squid also uses its ability of bioluminescence to attract prey. They have a fairly short life span and usually only live around 1 year. It is also the only known cephalopod to have the ability to see colour.

Humpback Anglerfish

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The Anglerfish, like the Oarfish is a type of Osteichthyes or more commonly referred to as a 'boney fish'. There are several different types of Anglerfish and they all differ in which habitat they prefer, though the Humpback Anglerfish is one of the Anglerfish which you will find only at the deep dark depths of the ocean. They are also referred to as BlackDevils and live at depths of between 1000 and 2000 meters. The Humpback Anglerfish can grow up to a moderate length of 22 centimeters long. The Anglerfish is probably one of the most commonly illustrated fish which uses bioluminescence, in this case with a lantern looking feature which extends from the fish's head. This deep sea fish is also known for its long sharp and intimidating set of teeth.

Chambered Nautilus

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The Nautilus is a prehistoric creature which appears not to have undergone any evolution in the past 400 million years and looks the same as ancient fossils. The Nautilus looks somewhat like a cuttlefish though with a round circular type shell instead of the long flat shell on cuttlefish. The Nautilus uses its tentacles to pull in prey towards its beak. The Nautilus's eyes are a prime example of how the Nautilus has not evolved like many of its counter-parts. The eye of the Nautilus has no lenses and rather a primitive feature of a small hole allowing light in, which has been compared to that on a pinhole camera. The Nautilus is not restricted to extreme depths but rather has the ability to live in moderately deep to very deep waters, often being present in tropical waters with depths in excess of 500 meters.

Gulper Eel

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Also known by the far more difficult to pronounce name 'Saccopharyngiformes', so we will stick with Gulper Eel. The Gulper Eel is a deep sea creature which can live in depths in excess of 3000 meters. There are several species of Saccopharyngiformes and some of them have the ability of bioluminescence. While they may appear somewhat similar to eels they have numerous different characteristics, the most common and easily noticeable difference is the jaw of the animal which can allow the Gulper Eel to consume fish larger than the Gulper Eel itself. The Gulper Eel is likely named due to the fact that when a Gulper Eel swims towards its prey, it opens its mouth wide and gulps down the said prey.


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One of the smallest deep sea fish, the Marine Hatchetfish can be found anywhere between 60 meters (though rarely) right down to some extreme depths in excess of 3500 meters, they are most commonly found in warm sub-tropical and tropical waters. They are named Hatchetfish cause of their fairly thin, narrow rear which then extends promptly outwards as you approach the front of the fish, creating a hatchet-like appearance. The Hatchetfish is another deep sea fish with the ability to produce light and does so through photophores on the fish's lower belly. The Hatchetfish is also a deep sea fish with a short life span and there is still a lot of data missing to understand the Marine Hatchetfish.

If you know of any other interesting deep sea creatures you feel is worthy to be listed, feel free to leave a comment.


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4 out of 5 stars Nice article! Very interesting and informative.
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4 out of 5 stars They're not really "lookers" are they? I think may have dated some of them....

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