There Are Up to 100 Million Deep Sea Species — We'll Be Impressed If You Can Name 40!
By: Ian Fortey
Image: Rodrigo Friscione / Cultura / Getty Images
About This Quiz
The sun only penetrates to about 200 meters below the surface of the ocean and after that, you're on your own with some artificial lights and your own icy veins. Relative to your average river or pond that seems pretty deep. But that's barely a splash in the pan for the ocean which gets down to about 11,000 meters at its deepest point. Do you know what lives down there? Not a lot actually at that incredible depth. But in the distance between where all light stops and the bottom, you're going to find an incredible array of creatures that range from bizarre to terrifying to rather baffling in their appearance. Adapting to life in high pressure and total darkness makes for some very curious beasts.
Most of the things we've seen from the depths are shocking and a little bit scary, but that's also part of the reason they're so interesting. The fish you see normally are pretty plain and generally don't look like horror movie props at all. But deep down where the average person can't get to holds a real fascination. It's like accessing an alien world here on Earth. If you think you know your creatures of the deep then you need to give our quiz a try. Forty creatures from the darkest depths. Can you name them all?
This deep sea creature sounds like it might hunt for Hobbits beneath the sea. What is it?
The Goblin Shark is considered to be the only member of an incredibly ancient line of sharks that dates back 125 million years. Not only are they weird to look at but they're also bizarre to watch when they eat as well. Their jaw actually extends out and grasps at food like a hand snatching it from the water.
This creature resembles a sow bug that you might find in your garden. Do you know what it's called?
Spiny Red Crab
Giant isopods can grow to a size of around 19 inches in length. They aren't fished in many places although they have found their way onto menus in some Asian countries. They're also kept as pets by some people so keep that in mind if you ever want a monster bug in your house.
This monstrous looking thing has about 300 teeth. Tell us what it is.
The frilled shark looks like a leftover from prehistoric times and can be found anywhere from 120 meters down to about 1500 meters below the surface. Their nasty, little razor-sharp teeth are trident-shaped and backward-facing to ensure that if the shark bites something it won't get away.
This weird creature lives in the dark where you won't notice its bright red body. What is it called?
The Black Swallower
You'll find the vampire squid at around 900 meters below the surface. Despite the name, they don't seem to do much bloodsucking; it's mostly the blood-red color that lends itself to the moniker as well as the hood-like web of flesh that links their tentacles.
What's the name of this fish that can provide its own light in the dark?
The little bobber on the top of an anglerfish's head is a modified dorsal fin. Not all anglerfish produce light with it but some do have a bioluminescent organ that is used to attract prey like bait on a fishing pole. That's how they got the name "anglers."
This creature was almost called "Big Ugly" but was changed when people objected. What is it?
Giant Tube Worm
Big Red Jellyfish
The Big Red Jellyfish may not have the most clever name but it is accurate. It was discovered in 2003 and grows to a size of around 30 inches which, for a jellyfish, certainly is big. Unlike some jellies, its tentacles aren't for stinging but for grabbing food and pulling it in.
For a long while, this creature was thought to only be a legend. What is it?
Giant Squid can grow to over 40 feet in length, making them one of the largest creatures on Earth. Photos of the squid didn't even exist until 2004, and it would be another eight years before one was caught on video. They're thought to prey on whales, and their tentacles are outfitted with some wicked spikes to dig into flesh.
This massive fish can reach lengths of over 30 feet. Do you know it?
The oarfish effectively looks like a giant, living ribbon. There's a belief that oafish may be the source of stories about sea serpents, owing to the fact that they do beach themselves after storms sometimes, and, if they are ill, they will rise to the surface. A 30-foot-long snakelike fish might trick people into thinking it's a monster.
When this fish is taken from its high-pressure environment it tends to look pretty gross. Do you know its name?
Down between 600 meters and 1,200 meters where a blobfish lives comfortably it looks a lot like a regular fish. Unfortunately they do incredibly poorly with changes in pressure since its gelatinous flesh is only slightly more dense than water.
This rather unattractive fish gets its name from the fact it appears to have fangs. Name it!
Atlantic Wolf Fish
Living at depths down to 500 meters, the wolf fish is notable for its jaw full of crooked, mismatched looking teeth. It actually has a number of cone-shaped teeth in its mouth as well as molars for crushing and teeth down its throat as well.
This fish can be found as far down as 2,600 meters. Do you know it?
The Chimaera is named for a mythological beast that was a mishmash of other creatures. It's also known as a rabbitfish, a ratfish and the much cooler name ghost shark. In a weird twist of biology, males have retractable sexual appendages in their foreheads.
This creature is a popular item on restaurant menus. Do you recognize it?
Spiny Red Crab
The Spiny Red Crab is also called the King Crab and it's one of the most fished crabs in the world. Down on the ocean floor, they eat smaller crabs or starfish but if times are tough they'll scavenge dead animals on the ocean's floor as well.
This nightmare of the deep has a trail of light cells along its sides that may be used to attract mates. What is it?
The Pacific Blackdragon is a long, eel-like fish found at depths as low as 1,000 meters. The fish is almost all black to help it hide from the prey that it ambushes but it also has a little light on its chin to lure in unsuspecting prey. You'd figure anything that deep would know to avoid lights by now.
This bizarre life form doesn't even have a digestive tract. Do you know it?
Giant Tube Worm
Giant tube worms are one of the strangest life forms on Earth. They can live in the harshest parts of the ocean, next to vents that release heavy amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide into the water They feed through a process called chemosynthesis where the bacteria that fill them produce all the nutrients they need to survive.
What do you call this fish that can grow to over 6 feet in length?
The snipe eel can occupy a crazy range of depth from 300 meters down to as deep as 4,000 meters. They are incredibly long and whip-like and though they can be around 6 feet long they may weigh only a pound at the same time.
This fish produces an incredibly thick slime when attacked. What is it?
The hagfish is just really unappealing to look at and, apparently, to handle. When defending itself the hagfish releases mucous from numerous glands that, when mixed with the water around it, will produce up to 20 liters of thick, suffocating slime.
This scary beast is a species of anglerfish. What is its name?
The Fanfish Seadevil has a vast array of thin filaments that branch off of its body like hairs. These filaments are bioluminescent to attract prey to those massive jaws. Every one of these monsters you see in pictures is female as the males are remarkably tiny and have to bite into the female's underside and latch on to breed.
This is the most common deep sea fish in the world. What is it called?
Lanternfish may not look all that remarkable but these little guys are rather surprising. Aside from their ability to produce light, hence their name, they also make up the bulk of all deep-sea biomass with some estimates saying that 65% of all deep-sea life is just lanternfish.
Some of these fish are actually transparent. What is it?
The hatchetfish gets its name from the body shape which resembles the head of a hatchet. There are freshwater versions of the fish that exist in much shallower water while the deep sea versions can be found down to 1,500 meters
What's the name of this fish that looks like a small, surly marlin?
Lancetfish are considered a bit of a nuisance animal and get caught up in commercial fishing for things like tuna. You can actually eat lancetfish and they're described as being sweet but there isn't really an industry for them.
These fish look terrifying but only grow to about 6 inches long. What are they called?
The fangtooth is more mouth than anything else, which is oddly common for deep-sea fish. These are some of the deepest dwelling fish n the world and can be found all the way down to about 5,000 meters which is about 3 miles down.
Do you know the name of this cartoon creature of the deep?
This incredible creature has been recorded at depths of 7,000 meters which is inhospitable to almost every other life form in the ocean and is the deepest any octopus has ever been recorded at. They're usually about a foot long though some have been recorded at upwards of 5 feet.
This creature has two sets of tentacles. Do you know what they called it?
The UFO jellyfish was filmed in the Mariana trench by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. UFO Jellyfish is actually just a colloquial description as the jellyfish was never officially named.
This creature looks like a giant, discarded bag. What is it?
Deepstaria Reticulum doesn't sound like an impressive name but this giant squid exists at a depth of around 5,000 meters. The bell portion of a jellyfish which is usually small and rounded is the massive, sheet-like portion of this jelly.
This thing is sometimes called a false catfish. What is it?
Sofa sharks can be found at depths of 1,400 meters. They have broad heads and round snouts along with very short dorsal fins unlike what you might expect from a shark. Essentially yeah, they do look like a sofa that can swim.
This bizarre creature was only discovered in between Indonesia and the Philippines in 2007. What name does it go by?
Giant Tube Worm
The Squidworm was found 2,800 meters below the surface and has 10 long appendages or tentacles on its head that are each longer than its actual body. It uses these appendages like fingers to pluck little bits of food out of the water for itself.
Scientists only discovered this creature in 2005. What did they call it?
Japanese Spider Crab
The Yeti Crab got its nickname thanks to the weird hair all over its long arms which made researchers think of the mythical yeti or abominable snowman. Aside from the unusual hair the crab also is thought to be completely blind since it doesn't seem to have any functioning eyes.
This rare fish was first recorded in 1976. Do you know the name of it?
The megamouth shark can grow to lengths of around 18 feet and are rarely seen by humans. They eat by opening the massive mouth that gave them the name and lazily swimming along, pulling in plankton just like whales do.
Do you know the name of this fish which seems to have come from a horror movie?
The viperfish is one of the most famous deep sea creatures thanks to its stunning appearance. It looks like the skeleton of a fish from Hell complete with needle-like fish and a lower jaw on a hinge that lets it open incredibly wide to bite down on prey.
What's the name of this fish that looks like it's half fanny pack?
The massive pouch hanging below a black swallower is actually the fish's stomach. It's so large and able t expand to such a great size that the swallower can eat a fish twice its length and 10 times its mass. That's essentially the same as a human eating a car.
This fish was once thought to be long extinct but obviously, it's not. What is it called?
The Coelacanth was believed to have gone extinct literally millions of years ago and was only known through fossil records. In 1938 a living coelacanth was caught and now it's known there are a couple of species of the fish still living, even though they're extremely rare.
If you're easily creeped out you'll hate this deep-sea creeper. What is it?
Sea Spiders are not true spiders but that probably doesn't matter if you have a fear of spiders or other multi-legged creatures. Their leg span can reach over two feet and when it comes time to eat, they stick their proboscis into prey to suck out the nutrients.
This creature will stay at depths of nearly 400 meters but will surface at night. Do you know what it is?
The firefly squid is one of the most incredible looking creatures in the world. While it normally looks like an average squid it can also activate photophores across its body to produce a remarkable pattern of blue lights.