Little is known about
deep-sea life. However, animals recently discovered in the deep
sea are known to live under very extreme conditions, including darkness,
high pressure, and drastic temperature changes. On the ocean floor,
hot fluids released from the hydrovents can reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition, little sunlight, if any, reaches beyond 3,000 feet;
no wavelengths can be absorbed, and the world is dark. Consequently,
deep sea fish and other animals have acquired adaptations that allow
them to "create" their own light, a process called bioluminescence.
All of the following
information and images of deep sea creatures are courtesy of PBSs
NOVA "Life in the Abyss" available on the Internet:
(Cryptopasaras couesi): More commonly known as the "triplewart
sea devil," the female has 3 luminescent sacs, called caruncles,
in front of her dorsal fin. The caruncles also aid in enticing prey
to within striking distances. The males are parasites and premanently
attach themeselves to her sida to facilitate breeding.
(Eurypharynx pelecanoides): Also known as the "umbrellamouth
gulper" or "the pelican eel," this fish can greatly
expand its hinged jaws to engulf fishes and deposit them in its
pouch-like lower jaw. These fish grow up to 2 feet long, including
their whip-like tail , and live in depths greater than 6,500 feet.
(Melanocetus johnsoni): This fish is very round shaped
with a large mouth. Nicknamed the "black whale" or "common
black devil," its ferocious appearance is deceiving, since
it can only reach a maximum length of 5 inches.
(Chauliodus sloani): Its lower fangs are so long that
they dont even fit in its mouth!! Instead, they project back
close to the eyes. No viperfish has ever been photographed in its
natural habitat, but it is rumored to hover at a 45 degree angle.
(Anoplogaster cornuta): The juveniles differ so much
from the adults of this species that it took over 50 years for biologists
to realize that they were the same species. Also known as the "fangtooth,"
these animals are found in tropical and temperate waters up to 16,000
(Saccopharynx lavenberi): These animals can grow up
to 6 feet long with rows of sharp teeth. They eat their prey whole,
giving them the name "gulpers." Their victims travel to
their "sack-gullet" and into the stomach where they are
(Linophryne arborifera): Their Latin name means "toad
that fishes with a net," which refers to the bioluminescent
bulb on top of its head and the hanging filaments below that lure
prey. Despite its ferocious jaws, this fish is only the size of
a baby's fist.
flagellibarba: Its name means "lined stomatid with
a whip-barbel." This fish is only 6 inches long, but the barbel
on its chin can project up to 6 feet long. In addition to its impressive
barbel, it has two rows of blue-violet luminescent organs on its
flanks, which can light up the dark depths of the ocean.
infernalis: Also known as the "vampire squid from
hell," this species has the largest eyes of any animal relative
to its body size. A six inch squid has eyeballs the size of a large
dog. This fish has wing-like fins and photophores, tiny lights on
its body. These features help it find prey in depths of 3,000 feet.
chordatus: This fish can reach close to 3 feet in length.
It has elongated tail rays, which give rise to its two nicknames
"tube-eye" and "thread-tail." Its mouth is the
most interesting feature, because it is able to expand up to 38
times its original size when sucking sea water.
Star Fish (Gorgonocephalus arcticus): This fish can
be found from the Arctic to Cape Cod and in water as deep as 4,000
feet. This fish is only about 20 inches long. It feeds by creating
a canopy that grabs the food to the underside of the body where
the mouth is located. The Latin name means "Gorgon Head."
(Caulophryne polynema): The name of this fish means
"stalked toad with many filaments." It looks more like
a porcupine. A fisherman who caught this fish thought it looked
like it had swallowed an orange, because its stomach was so round
and stretched. It can grow up to 8 inches long.
(Himantolophus groenlandicus): Sometimes called the
"football fish," this animal looks like a linebacker for
a professional football team. It was the first anglerfish ever found.
This fish can grow up to 21 inches long.
saccostoma: This fish has a huge overbite, which gave
it the latin name meaning "grotesque among grotesques."
It has a "fishing rod" on top of its head with a lure
and three bony hooks, which serve to frighten away prey.
axeli: Also known as "Prince Axels wonder-fish,"
this fish has a bioluminescent organ projecting from its toothy
jaws. This serves to light the dark habitat for this bottom-dweller,
who lives in depths of up to 11,778 feet. The fish shown in the
photograph was found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Nosed Chimaera (Harriotta raleighana): This fish has
a sharp nose that resembles the nose contour of a supersonic jet
aircraft (or maybe even an elephant!). It was for this reason that
they were nicknamed "rattail" and "ghost shark."
Long Nosed Chimaera have a dorsal fin with a venomous spine that
could kill a person. Although this is not likely to happen because
they live in waters 8,000 feet deep.
are just beginning to understand these deep sea wonders. Therefore,
what is currently known and presented on this website is limited.
There is still an abundance to be learned and discovered about the
deep-sea and its inhabitants. There is a continual need for research
in this area, which begins with inspiration in the classroom.