The ocean is full of terrifying creatures and recently The crew of the RV Investigator, led by Museums Victoria, has just completed an expedition across the abyss off the coast of Australia and they have seen some gnarly creatures.
Sea spiders (pycnogonids) are one of the most extraordinary animals to inhabit the sea. They may not be real spiders, but they are far more interesting. As one prominent taxonomist once observed, if you wanted to design a creature from outer space you would do well to choose a sea spider as your model! Superficially, a sea spider appears to be little more than a collection of drinking straws.
There are no specific organs for respiration or digestion: respiration is by gaseous exchange through the cuticle wall, digestion is intracellular, and blood circulation is primarily activated by movement or pumping of the legs. They are little more than a tube within a tube. You may well ponder, are they in fact alive?
This red spiny crab is one of the more colourful creatures found by the RV Investigator crew. It’s closely related to the hermit crab, but with the kind of outer armour that says, “mess with me and I will end you.”
Oh, Blind Cusk Eel. You came into this world without eyes, you’ve traded in scales for slippery gelatinous skin, and you live 2,000 to 6,000 metres below the surface. You are the junk of the ocean (in more ways than one), but we love you all the same.
The Peanut Worm (that’s pea-NUT) likes hanging around in the dark, and will retract its long head inward when threatened. So, more of a grow-er than a show-er.
Down in the abyssal twilight zone, Dragon Fish generate their own light to lure prey in a process called bioluminescence. This fish was caught 1,500 metres below the water, presumably coming home from an all-night abyssal rave.
Mostly, we’re just worried that this guy is desperately lonely. In between walking around the seafloor, the Coffinfish sits and waits in the inky depths, using a lure on its head to attract prey.