Rare and bizarre sharks; deep sea mysteries; mythical ocean creatures; and things we don’t know; These are 12 Deep Sea WONDERS !
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Portuguese Man o’ War
This critter is often mistaken for a jellyfish, but it’s a siphonophore (SIE-fon-if-for) … which is actually a colony of individual organisms called zooids (zoe-oids). Some great pictures of the creatures were captured in Australia by Matthew Smith. Because the Portuguese Man o’ War has bioluminescence, it can make ocean waves shimmer with a neon blue color. Experts think that siphonophores and jellyfish make use of bioluminescence as a way to deter predators. They’re usually found in tropical waters, where they are carried along by ocean currents and tides. Siphonophores have no means to propel themselves. But they’re not helpless .. or harmless for that matter. The critters are known to carry a powerful venom … and their painful sting can pose a potential danger to humans.
Glasshead Barreleye Fish
These strange looking critters get their strange name from their four eyes … two of which are pointing upwards to scan for potential prey, predators or paramours. A second set of eyes are located on the sides of its head, and have a silvery sheen. Those eyes contain an additional lens and retina that allow the critter to allowing it to see below and to the side of it … essentially giving the fish 360-degree vision. Researchers who caught a specimen in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand said the fish had a type of eye that was previously unknown. Reflector eyes are often found in invertebrates, or crustaceans … to find them in fish is considered unusual. Barreleye fish can be found at depths exceeding 3,000 feet and inhabit waters from the eastern Atlantic Ocean to the western Pacific.
An incredibly rare Ghost Shark was caught on video in waters near Hawaii and California. And according to researchers, that’s around 6,000 kilometers outside of their normal range. A remote operated vehicle spotted six of the creatures nearly 500 meters below the surface. Experts say the animals might belong to an entirely new species of chimaera fish … but they won’t know for certain until they can catch one of the creatures to test their DNA. Also identified as a blue ratfish, the pointy-nosed critter has never before been observed in the wild. And only one of the critters has ever been caught. That was near Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia back in 2002. Did you know it’s called a ‘ratfish’ because its jaw is fused to its skull … and that gives its face a rat like appearance. They’re also known to have retractable gonads on their foreheads … the purpose of which still remains a mystery.
Gigantic Giant Squid
Researchers found a squid about the size of a minibus in the isolated Ross Sea of Antarctica. After keeping the critter on ice for around 8 months, experts thawed it out … and found the animal weighed around 770 pounds! It was a female, and had 8 arms that stretched more than 3 feet each … and had 2 tentacles that went some 7 feet long. Experts hope that analysis of the huge squid will yield more data on where the animals fit in the overall marine-based food chain … in addition to identifying their dietary habits and life cycle. When you hear about a squid this enormous, it’s understandable that they could have served as the basis for the legendary kraken!
Ocean Sunfish/Mola Mola
These critters also go by the name Mola Mola … and they typically weigh around 2,200 pounds … they rank as the heaviest bony fist so far discovered. Their bizarre appearance makes them look like a huge fish head with a tail attached! Its flat body will usually measure around 6 feet long … and with their fins extended, they can be as long as they are tall. We found some stories that give an idea of how massive these critters can get. Some fishermen in Sulawesi, Indonesia caught a specimen that weighed around 1.5 tons, and measured more than 6 feet long … which is kind of keeping with the animal’s normal specifications. Unfortunately this critter was found in bad condition and perished before it could be returned to the sea. And then there’s a gigantic specimen that was reportedly caught in 1910 … you can see how enormous it is in an ancient photograph … it easily dwarfs the onlookers. We couldn’t find much more information on this one .. although some sources indicate it was caught off Santa Catalina Island in California.. We did note that Guinness lists the largest ever sunfish on record as being around 14 feet long and weighing more than 4,900 pounds, although the stats are unverified. It was said to be struck by a steamship in waters off Sydney in 1908.
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