Oceans cover approximately 72 percent of the earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of its water. Within the saline depths of the earth’s seas there is much more living space than there is on land. About 230,000 species of animals have been identified, but scientists estimate that over two million different types of marine animals may exist. Among the multitudes of species are creatures so unusual they surpass the fictional creations of the most imaginative fantasists.
The abode of the grotesque anglerfish is the dark cold depths of the deep sea. Most of its 200 species live up to a mile beneath the surface of the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans. Dark gray to dark brown in color, anglerfish vary in length from less than a foot to over three feet. The most prominent feature of their enormous heads is the huge mouth full of needle-sharp, translucent teeth. Above their mouths, the females have a sort of fishing pole projection with a luminescent tip with which they lure prey. With their gaping mouths and elastic bodies, they can swallow prey up to twice their size. The males have no need of such hunting appendages, because at an early age they attach themselves to a female, fusing into her body and bloodstream.
The ribbon eel is a type of moray eel that inhabits the coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Their flat, ribbon-like bodies can grow up to three or four feet in length. They feed on small fish that stray too close to the rocks or sand within which they conceal themselves. In the wild, they live up to 20 years, but when captured and put in aquariums they often refuse to eat and starve to death. As they mature, ribbon eels change color and even sex. When they are juveniles, they are black with bright yellow dorsal fins. As they mature, they become bright blue, and their lower jaw turns yellow. When their bodies turn completely yellow except for a black fin, they have become fully functioning females.
Not only is the stonefish one of the ugliest fish on Earth, it is also one of the most venomous. It inhabits coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific region, which includes the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian seas, and part of the Pacific Ocean. Growing up to two feet in length, the stonefish has drab brown coloration that blends in with the rocks, mud flats, and coral reefs where it lives. It sits perfectly still on the sea floor, and when small fish pass it lunges at them. On its back are 13 needle-sharp spines that can pierce through the sole of a shoe. A person stepping on a stonefish experiences excruciating pain and paralysis of the foot and lower leg. Encounters sometimes result in amputation of the affected limbs or death.
The largest giant squid ever found measured almost 60 feet in length. These enigmatic creatures inhabit the deep ocean, but occasionally one washes ashore in such diverse locales as Newfoundland, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Recently photographs and videos have been taken of them in the wild. They feed on fish, other squid, and possibly small whales. They have few enemies, but one notable exception is the sperm whale. Evidence of epic battles with giant squid has been found on sperm whale skin.
Innumerable amazing creatures large and small inhabit the oceans of the world, and as technology for exploration continues to improve, more and more species are being discovered all the time.
This article was written by Sheldon Armstrong on behalf of Stewart Technology Associates, your number one choice when looking for marine technology and mooring analysis. With a great understanding of the oceans and seas, they are sure to be able to provide a great service!