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12 Stunning & Terrifying Photos of Deep Sea Creatures

Researchers brought up all sorts of creatures from the deep sea to be photographed. The result? Stunning images and videos.


If you're ever having a ho-hum day where you feel like you've seen it all before, there's one place you can always turn to see something you've never seen before (and probably never even imagined, either).

We're talking about the deep sea, the more-or-less unexplored realm of the ocean whose utter darkness hides all sorts of unusual life forms.

Last year, marine biologist and photographer Solvin Zankl accompanied a German research expedition to Cape Verde, part of an island chain in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa.

The researchers brought up all sorts of deep sea creatures, and Zankl was there to document their finds, which ranged from the terrifying to the ghostly to the simply strange.

1. Sloane's Viperfish

Photo by Solvin Zankl

The Sloane's viperfish can't fit its teeth inside its mouth, but that's actually an advantage — instead of chewing, it just uses them to impale prey. One silver lining to this nightmare fish? It's only about a foot long.

2. Triplewart Seadevil

Photo by Solvin Zankl

Commonly know as an anglerfish, this particular species is also called the triplewart seadevil. That's right, devil is literally in its name. This is a female specimen; the males are tiny, latch onto the females to survive like parasites and produce sperm when needed — kind of like a detachable penis.

3. Fangtooth Fish

Photo by Solvin Zankl

The aptly named fangtooth fish has the largest teeth of any fish in the ocean — proportional to body size, that is. Like the Sloane's viperfish, the fangtooth is less scary in perspective, as it's only 6 inches long.

4. Dragonfish

Photo by Solvin Zankl

A lot of deep-sea fish are bioluminescent, producing their own light to compensate for the darkness. The dragonfish is one of these, but the real creepy factoid is that its stomach lining is black — to keep the light from any bioluminescent fish it has swallowed from shining through!

5. The Pram Bug

Photo by Solvin Zankl

The pram bug is living in someone else's skin — literally. The female finds a salp, eats its organs and then lives inside its skeleton. Shudder.

6-8. Eyeflash Squid, Longarm Octopus and Glass Octopus

Photo by Solvin Zankl

Photo by Solvin Zankl

Photo by Solvin Zankl

What's the deep sea without a few cephalopods? That's the eyeflash squid, the longarm octopus and the glass octopus above, all soft and squishy and tempting to predators. So they try to keep a low profile and hope any prowlers look right through them.

9. Ostracod

Photo by Solvin Zankl

Skeletons can be a drawback in the crushing pressures of the deep sea. But squishy bodies mean lots of different body types. Or in the case of the ostracod, no body type at all, really — just a floating head, its big eyes peering out from behind its shell.

10. Eel Larva

Photo by Solvin Zankl

And sometimes, instead of getting squished down like the ostracod, everything gets really stretched out, like this eel larva. Or we guess all eels would like that if their bodies were see-through — still strange, though.

11. Sea Butterfly

Photo by Solvin Zankl

Deep sea and butterflies isn't an association you would instinctively make. But then here comes the sea butterfly, making you look like a fool. It's actually a type of snail, whose foot has sprouted wings that it can use to swim about.

12. Glass Squid

Juvenile glass squid - Photo by Solvin Zankl

If you're looking for the eyes on this juvenile glass squid, you won't find them on its head. Instead, its eyes are on the ends of long stalks, because why not? Seriously folks, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

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