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Strange but true underwater animals


Photo by Philippe Guillaume licensed CC BY 2.0

Millions of animals live on Earth. Some are cute and cuddly. Some are downright strange. We’re highlighting the strange. Get ready to be surprised. Or horrified…

The truly-terrifying-to-look-at dragonfish uses its fangs to hook prey. Even its tongue is covered in fangs. The dragonfish is about 15 cm long and can make its own light using an organ called a photophore. Scientists believe dragonfish use the light to attract mates and prey. How? Well, a “barbel” (looks like a fishing lure) hangs from its mouth. The dragonfish waves this barbel back and forth to lure fish. As soon as the fish comes close, the dragonfish snaps it up in its jaws. Watch it in action:



Zombie Worms (Osedax)


Yep, they’re a real thing. A zombie* worm, or bone worm, eats the bones of sea creatures like whales...without using its mouth...because it doesn’t have one. How does it eat then? A zombie worm excretes acid from its body. The acid breaks down the bones. Then the zombie worm’s body absorbs it. Here’s an extra weird fact: hundreds of tiny male worms live in jelly-like tubes on the female’s body. Disclaimer! We need to come clean about something: Osedax and zombies aren't exactly the same. One, zombies are dead and feed on live humans (plus, they're not real), and two, Osedax are living organisms that feed on dead carcasses.

Meat-Eating Sponge

(Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)/YouTube)

Never use this sponge to tidy up. Nicknamed the “harp sponge” because it looks like a harp turned on it side, this carnivorous sponge waits for ocean currents to wash tiny sea creatures into its delicate branches. The branches are covered in barbed hooks (similar to velcro). When a creature is caught on these hooks, the sponge wraps it a thin membrane. Then it’s time for digestion. Harp sponges have been spotted off the coast of California.

Bearded Fireworm

A fuzzy-looking orange and white worm on the sea floor.
Photo by Philippe Guillaume licensed CC BY 2.0

Bearded fireworms live in the Atlantic Ocean on reefs and under stones along muddy bottoms. The worm gets its name thanks to the burning sensation you’d feel if you were to touch one of the white bristles along its body. The bristles are filled with venom. Most bearded fireworms are about 5 - 10 cm long, but some grow up to 35 cm. 


(the bearded fireworm/YouTube)

Pink Sea-Through Fantasia

(Chandresh S/YouTube)

The Pink Sea-Through Fantasia is a swimming sea cucumber found about 2,500 metres deep in the Celebes Sea in the western Pacific Ocean. They swim using the fingerlike webbing under their bodies. The video above shows this pink cucumber at the 1:06 minute mark, but the entire video is worth watching for all of its strange creatures.

The Yeti Crab


This furry-clawed crab was discovered in 2005 south of Easter Island and 1,524 metres below the surface of the South Pacific Ocean. The Yeti Crab lives along vents, or cracks, in the ocean floor. The vents emit sulfurous gases and are extremely hot. The Yeti Crab’s scientific name is Kiwa hirsuta, named after the Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Scientists think the Yeti Crab is blind and uses its hairy pincers to detoxify poisonous minerals in the water. 


(Epic Wildlife/YouTube)