The Butterfly of the Sea

This is fish is called the Sea Robin, otherwise known as a Gurnard or The Butterfly of the Sea. This interesting fish is a bottom dweller. They have several sets of specialized fins, including some that allow the fish to swim and others that let it perch on the seafloor. It’s not related to flying fish, nor do they glide in air. The Sea Robin’s large pectoral fins are normally held against the body, but are spread out when threatened to put off predators.

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Polychaete Worm

Photograph courtesy NIWA    

Don’t let the rainbow glow fool you. This polychaete worm-found 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) down on the muddy seafloor off northern New Zealand—is a ferocious predator, with jaws that project à la the Alien movie monster.

Scientists spotted the creature—and many others—during a three-week expedition this spring throughout four deep-sea regions in the volcano-rich Kermadec Ridge.

Covering 3,800 square miles (9,840 square kilometers), the study area included undersea mountains, continental slopes, canyons, and hydrothermal vents-areas where undersea volcanoes release hot water and gases.

The “exciting” survey turned up several known species, from stalked barnacles to giant mussels, as well as potential new ones, biologist Malcolm Clark said by email.

“Overall, the survey confirmed our belief that the biological communities of the four deep-sea habitats would be different,” added Clark, who led the voyage for New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

The research also further illuminated the deep sea, which is “to an extent, out of sight and out of mind,” he said.

“In order to ensure that deep-sea ecosystems do not suffer too much damage from things like bottom trawling or mineral extraction, we need to know what animals occur there, and how vulnerable they are to impact.”

(See “Pictures: ‘Supergiant,’ Shrimp-Like Beasts Found in Deep Sea.”)

—Christine Dell'Amore



Terrifying Deep Sea Creatures to Feed your Nightmares

These weird and scary creatures were found at the deepest part of the world’s oceans located at The Mariana Trench. On March 26, 2012, film director James Cameron became the first person to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench. These are just a few of the creatures that he found. Truly creepy.



  1. Multifunctional tube feet are able to attach to surfaces using suction, slowly move the animal over the seabed, pull apart the closed shells of prey to get at the soft tissues inside, and pass morsels of food to the mouth (Asterias rubens).
  2. Bolinopsis infudibuliformis–this species of comb jelly, reaching up to 15 cm (6 in.) in length, has four long and four short comb plates.  It is extremely fragile and individuals almost always tear and break up when handled.
  3. Phacellophora camtschatica
  4. A sea cucumber releasing its Cuvierian tubules to defend itself (Holothuria pervicax).
  5. Unlike most comb jellies that catch their prey by using muscles to suck in water, Thalassocalyce simply allows the prey (usually small crustaceans) to swim inside its bell where they stick to the mucus covered lining.  The bell then snaps shut and the prey is digested.
  6. A jellyfish (Bougainvillia superciliaris) with a hitchhiking amphipod (Hyperia galba).

Second Rare Oarfish Washes Ashore in Southern California

For the second time in a week, the rare, serpentine oarfish has surfaced on a Southern California beach.

Beach goers at Oceanside Harbor crossed paths Friday afternoon with the deep-sea monster when its carcass washed ashore, Oceanside Police Officer Mark Bussey said. The fish measured 13 ½ feet long. The discovery came just days after an 18-foot dead oarfish was found in the waters off Catalina Island. 

“The call came out as a possible dead whale stranded on the beach, so we responded and saw the fish on the sand right as it washed up,” Bussey said.

Oceanside police then contacted SeaWorld San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Suzanne Kohin of NOAA Fisheries Serivice responded, measured and took possession of the oarfish for research, Bussey said. He further added that people on the beach were “flabbergasted” to see the fish.

“It’s not the typical fish you see on shore,” he said, adding the oarfish probably weighed over 200 pounds. The fish was far too big for Santana to carry alone; it took 15 people to bring the beast to shore.

But these two massive fish are puny by oarfish standards, according to the NOAA. The oarfish is the largest bony fish in the sea and can grow over 50 feet in length. Very little is known about the species, since it usually is found hundreds, if not thousands of feet below the surface, reaching depths up to 3,000 feet.

In an ironic strategy for survival, a tiny shrimplike creature called an amphipod shows everything it has, inside and out, in an attempt to disappear. 

The unusual animal, called Phronima, is one of the many strange species recently found on an expedition to a deep-sea mountain range in the North Atlantic. 

Many small deep-sea creatures are transparent, or nearly so, to better camouflage themselves in their murky surroundings, scientists say. 



Monsters of the Deep Sea

Found at the depths of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, these deep sea ocean dwellers are both scary and deadly:

  • Frill Shark - has over 300 rows of needle sharp teeth. Its name comes from its frilly-looking gills.
  • Stonefish - perfectly camouflaged to look like a rock on the ocean floor, it is the most venomous fish in the world. It has 13 spines along its back that release the venom, which can kill humans in just a few hours.
  • Sloane’s Viperfish - its teeth are a force to be reckoned with. The fang-like chompers are more than half the size of the viper’s head, allowing the fish to impale prey by swimming at the victim headfirst, mouth agape.
  • Red Octopus - has eight arms with rows of glow-in-the-dark suckers trailing down each arm which are used to attract planktonic prey, like insects drawn to a light.
  • Sea Pig - a type of sea cucumber found in very deep waters throughout Earth’s oceans. Sea pigs travel in large groups numbered in the hundreds, crawling along the sea floor.