Today’s Deep Sea Freak of the Week is the Anglerfish. Anglerfish are members of the order Lophiiformes, and are named for their characteristic method of predation. Anglerfishes typically have at least one long filament sprouting from the middle of the head, with some species emitting bioluminescence from the end of the filament to attract prey.
Anglerfish: unlikely to compete for the title of Miss Universe.
The internet explains the life of an male anglerfish far better than I ever could, so I’m going to hand my deep sea responsibilities over to this comic:
This week’s freak is the Striped Pyjama Squid (Sepioloidea lineolata), a cuttlefish from off the coast of eastern, southern and western Australia. The species is also known as the Striped Dumpling Squid, and - along with the blue-ringed octopus and the fabulously-named Pfeffer’s Flamboyant Cuttlefish- is one of the few species of cephalopods known to be poisonous.
A Striped Pyjama Squid allegedly named ‘Mark Norman’.
A Pfeffer’s Flamboyant Cuttlefish, flamboyanting it up.
Today, Deep Sea Freak of the Week celebrates argonauts - a group of pelagic octopuses (also known as paper nautiluses).
Angry argonaut, ‘maneuevered’ by biologist Julian Finn.
Wired Science reported this week that biologists have discovered argonauts use trapped air within their shell cases to float at a comfortable depth. The discovery was apparently made after Melbourne scientist Julian Finn hassled some argonauts, causing them to flail wildly:
In the first reports from scuba observations of wild argonauts, Finn maneuvered Argonauta argo females so air escaped from their cases. The animals flailed as if struggling to maintain their orientation and quickly jetted to the water surface.
Males grow to about the size of the eye of a full-grown female and mate by sacrificing a detachable arm specialized for one-time delivery of sperm.
If its prey is shelled, the argonaut uses its radula to drill into the organism, then inject the poison.
Argonauts produce ink, which is ejected when the animal is being attacked. This ink paralyzes the olfaction of the attacker, providing time for the argonaut to escape.
A fabulous piece of argonaut art from a sea freak enthusiast.
Today’s freak is the rare and disturbing Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus), an inhabitant of the deep waters off the coast of mainland Australia and Tasmania.
Blobfish live at depths where the pressure is several dozens of times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient for maintaining buoyancy. Instead, the flesh of the blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. Its relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats by in front of it. - Wikipedia
As Helen is so busy I have been given the task of providing the Deep Sea Freak of the week….Enjoy. - Carlia, Executive Assistant to the Stars
Tasmanian scientists have discovered a new species of jellyfish in Hobart’s River Derwent and given it this sexy name. The species is only a few millimetres wide and scientists say it looks like a flying saucer with a cluster of spunk tanks, or sex organs, on top.
Sporting a reproductive “skyline,” this new species of jellyfish is like nothing else known under the sea!!
Shaped like flying saucers, both males and females of the new jellyfish have goolies on the outsides of their bodies, unlike any of the approximately 3,000 other jellyfish species known to science. Incase you needed reminding Knackers are the reproductive glands that produce sperm in males and eggs in females.
Arranged in a ring atop the jellyfish, the gonads…..upon very close inspection, resemble “skyscrapers in a downtown business district,” WOW
Harmless to humans, the new jellyfish species measures just 1.5 to 2 millimeters (0.06 to 0.08 inch) across, not the smallest ever known, but clearly the most entertaining!!
Please note - Information contained above may not be factual.
Super Nudibranch Frenzy Friday! Today’s Deep Sea Freak of the Week celebrates the nudibranch family of sea slugs. Nudibranches are hermaphroditic, largely carnivorous and often spectacular in appearance.
Vulnerable Deep Sea Freaks One of my snitches has informed me that me that a local resources services firm is doing work to facilitate the dredging of deep sea hydrothermal vents. On average a new deep sea species has been discovered every 10 days since vent ecosystems were first discovered in 1977, yet deep sea ecosystems remain relatively unprotected with no global legal framework for high seas management. The World Wildlife Fund is currently working to establish unprecedented deep sea marine protected areas (MPAs) in a number of jurisdictions, including deep sea vent fields.
Deep Sea Freaks Archive Wow, deep sea freaks come on the internet now! http://deepseafreakoftheweek.tumblr.com/ Yes, this is how I make up for missing two weeks of freak-posting. All the DSFotW archives, just for you.
Italian and Danish scientists have discovered the first multicellcular deep sea freaks to live entirely without oxygen - a tiny new species called Loricifera.
This raises hopes of encountering Off-Planet Freaks of the Week, in low or zero oxygen environments. (If Off-Planet Freaks are found, there will be a weekly mailout every Tuesday in their honour, so as not to displace Friday’s Deep Sea Freaks.)
From Science Magazine:
"The creatures reside deep in one of the harshest environments on earth: the Mediterranean Ocean’s L’Atalante basin, which contains salt brine so dense that it doesn’t mix with the oxygen-containing waters above. Previous samples taken from the water and sediments in the basin showed that single-celled life was present, but a new study published this week in BMC Biology has identified multi-cellular animals that apparently live and reproduce in the sediments under the salt brine. Italian and Danish researchers describe three new species of tiny animals called Loricifera. The animals took up radioactively tagged leucine (an amino acid), and a fluorescent probe that labels living cells, evidence that they were alive when they were collected.
The researchers also found examples of individuals that contained eggs and evidence of apparent molting, which led them to conclude that the animals spend their whole lives in the harsh sediments. The creature’s cells apparently lack mitochondria, the organelles that use oxygen to power a cell. Instead they are rich in what seem to be hydrogenosomes, organelles that can do a similar job in anaerobic (or oxygen free) environments. The find could help scientists understand what life might have looked like in the earth’s early oceans, which also had very little oxygen.”
Today’s freak, a Giant Isopod, was found attached to a robotic submersible at a depth of 8,500ft.
Giant Isopods are scavengers who feed on dead whales, fish and squid, and may also prey on slow moving sea cucumbers and sponges. Like [divisional name redacted -ed] staff at a quarterly function, when a significant source of food is encountered, giant isopods gorge themselves to the point of compromising their locomotive ability.
Here are some Giant Isopods engaging with a packet of Doritos during Friday drinks:
Happy Friday! Today’s freak is the freaky Sea Spider. In Antarctica, they are said to grow ‘exceptionally large’, according to Some Guy Called Norbert From The Internet.
“Most pycnogonids or sea spiders are just 1-10mm long, but in Antarctica, they can grow to the size of a human hand. In the extreme cold, where metabolisms are slow and there are relatively few predators, many invertebrates grow exceptionally large and live years longer than similar species in warmer waters.”
“Many of the 1,000 or so pycnogonid species worldwide feed on encrusting animals such as corals, anemones, bryozoans, and sponges. Their bodies are miniscule, and their gut and reproductive organs extend almost to the tip of each limb.” -Norbert Wu
It’s been so long between Deep Sea Freak of the Week emails that some of us have never even experienced one, and for this I humbly apologise.
Today’s freak, provided for the enhancement of your Friday afternoon, is a newly discovered species of deep sea worm.
Last year, researchers in the Gulf of Mexico lifted the creature from 990m below sea level, only to discover crude oil streaming both from the worm and the open hole. The worm had been feeding on chemicals from decomposing oil, reported scientists in a press statement.
Deep Sea Freak of the Week: Special Guest Edition!
Provided for your amusement by Shauna:
Red Lipped Batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini)
Also known as the Galapagos batfish, this oddball seafloor dweller is a poor swimmer that spends an abundance of time “walking” on its pectoral fins. In addition to its freaky walking ability, its body is covered in gnarled lumps, so it’s no wonder this warm water species looks like it’s wearing lipstick—how else could it get a date?
When the batfish reaches adulthood, its dorsal fin becomes a single spine-like projection that lures prey.
And for this week only, we have a bonus sea freak of the week (I’m unsure as to it’s natural depth)
I don’t have commentary for this creature (since I’m not sure what it’s actual name is). The only thing I know is that it’s not a fish …
This week’s freak is the Turritopsis nutricula, an apparently immortal species of jellyfish.
Jellyfish usually die after propagating; however, T. nutricula has developed the ability to return to a polyp state. The ability to reverse the life cycle is probably unique in the animal kingdom, and allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering T. nutricula biologically immortal.
Only one other instance of biological immortality is known in the animal kingdom; Hydra - simple fresh-water animals. It has often been assumed that hydras are unique among animals in that they do not undergo senescence (aging), and so are biologically immortal. Evidence for this was provided in 1998.
This week’s freak is the narwhal (Monodon monoceros), a medium-sized, tusked whale that lives year-round in the Arctic:
The species’ name is based on the Old Norse word nár, meaning “corpse”, in reference to the animal’s greyish, mottled pigmentation, like that of a drowned sailor.
Some medieval Europeans believed narwhal tusks to be the horns from the legendary unicorn. As these horns were considered to have magic powers, such as the ability to cure poison and melancholia, Vikings and other northern traders were able to sell them for many times their weight in gold.
The most broadly accepted theory for the role of the tusk is as a secondary sexual characteristic, similar to the mane of a lion or the tail feathers of a peacock.
When on their wintering grounds, the narwhals make some of the deepest dives ever recorded for a marine mammal, diving to at least 800 meters over 15 times per day with many dives reaching 1,500 meters. Dives to these depths last around 25 minutes, including the time spent at the bottom and the transit down and back from the surface.
Deep Sea Freak of the Week: Special Double Edition!
Here are two wonderful freaks for your amusement and education, making up for last week’s Great Internet Cock-Up, during which no freaks could be distributed:
1. Whale Shark (Rhincodon typhos)
The Whale Shark is truly a vacuum cleaner of the deep, using its capacious mouth (up to 1.5m wide) to filter-feed on plankton, krill, larvae and small squid.
The species is also identified with a Vietnamese deity, and called “Ca Ong” which literally translates to “Sir Fish”, if Wikipedia is to believed. Which it probably isn’t.
2. Deep Sea Hatchetfish (Argyropelecus gigas)
A hatchetfish has fixed upwards-gazing eyes to seek the silhouettes of prey moving above.
It protects itself from predators lurking below by adopting a strategy of counterillumination, with light-generating organs called ‘photophores’ on its belly and flanks camouflaging its silhouette. This may appear to be magic, but is actually most likely due to the wonders of science.
This week’s freak is Kiwa hirsuta, a blind crustacean discovered at a depth of 2,200m in the South Pacific Ocean in 2004. While sometimes referred to as the ‘Furry Lobster’, ‘Yeti Lobster’ or ‘Yeti Crab’, K. hirsuta is not a true lobster and is so unique that the species has been deemed to form a new genus and family (Kiwaide).
K. hirsuta's 'hairy' pincers contain filamentous bacteria - some scientists speculate that the creature may use these to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water emitted by deep sea hydrothermal vents, although other less exciting scientists claim the creature merely eats the bacteria.
When this furry freak was discovered, it was seen fighting two crabs over a piece of shrimp. In an unusual journalistic oversight, the BBC mentioned the fight, but did not report on the outcome nor on the ultimate fate of the piece of shrimp.
This week’s freak is a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini), the most common of all hammerheads.
The hammerhead is a notable freak not only for its oddly shaped face, but also for the recently discovered fact that it can reproduce by parthenogenesis:
"In late 2007 scientists discovered that hammerhead sharks can reproduce asexually through a rare method known as parthenogenesis (a direct development without the need of a sperm, similar to how social insects can reproduce). At first the announcement was considered sceptically, because a female shark can store sperm inside her for months, even years, but it was confirmed through DNA testing that the pup lacked any paternal DNA.”
Today’s freak is, by special request, the Sea Dragon - a marine fish related to the seahorse. Sea Dragons are only found around the coasts of South Australia and Western Australia, and are noted for their leaf-like protrusions which serve as camouflage.
Today we feature the elusive Bigfin Squid family on Deep Sea Freak of the Week. Only two clear pieces of footage of the Magnapinna genus have ever been captured, the most recent of these being taken by a camera mounted on Shell’s Perdido oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. No undamaged adult specimens of the squid have been recovered to date, and very little is known about the creature, other than that it is clearly very freak-like in appearance.
Happy-Friday Bonus Link:
Take a moment to feel less market-plummetingly alone with the Brokers With Hands On Their Faces Blog!
This week’s freak is the Giant Squid (genus: Architeuthis). The giant squid pictured below can be seen demonstrating behaviour typical to the genus:
The giant squid is the second largest mollusc and the second largest of all extant invertebrates. It is only exceeded in size, awesomeness and prowess in mortal combat by the Colossal Squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.