Mariana Trench Animals
As the deepest point in the ocean, you may be wondering,
What animals live in the Mariana Trench, and how are they able to live in such an extreme environment?
At 7 miles beneath the surface of the water (11,034 meters at the deepest part), the bottom of the Mariana Trench is a fascinating place. The extreme pressure alone, which is more than 1,071 times the pressure we experience in our "normal" atmosphere, makes living down here seem nearly impossible.
However, there are many deep-sea animals that call this part of the ocean floor home.
Let's dive in and take a look at some of these deep ocean creatures.
Animals In The Mariana Trench
The angler fish gets its name from the bright, bioluminescent lure on its head that it uses to attract prey.
This unique Mariana Trench creature might be one of the most popular deep-sea animals, thanks to the role it played in Finding Nemo. With a little ball of light protruding from the top of its head, it is also easy to differentiate from other fish.
Its teeth are quite sharp, making it a vicious predator, and its body shape is quite unusual.
On average, a female angler fish size is around eight inches in length, while males only grow to around one inch in length.
If that wasn't strange enough, male anglers will fuse themselves with female anglers to create a single fish.
The deep-sea dragonfish is one of the smallest apex predators in the ocean. This dragonfish is unique in that it does not have scales. Like the angler fish, it is able to produce its own light through a process called bioluminescence. Through this process, it can attract prey.
Though this small fish is only six inches in length on average, it has unique, dragon-like features that make it one of the most vicious-looking deep-sea creatures around. Compared to its small size, its teeth are absolutely massive.
The deep-sea hatchetfish is easy to differentiate from other dwellers of the deep oceans.
These small, 2 1/2 inch fish have shiny scales and bioluminescent bodies that give them a metallic look.
They also have the unique ability to alter their brightness to camouflage themselves when they need to.
A deep-sea hatchet fish will use dim blue light to protect itself.
If a predator is below the hatchetfish looking up, the predator will not be able to see anything at all, as the dim blue light blends right in with the rest of the water.
Each different species of hatchetfish displays different light patterns on their bellies.
"Counterillumination" is the term for the way they use their camouflaging bioluminescence.
The frilled shark has been around the block, as this species has existed for more than 80 million years.
Ludwig H.P. Döderlein, a German ichthyologist, discovered the frilled shark during the nineteenth century.
With a unique mouth shape and eerie appearance, many people refer to this shark as a "living fossil."
The body of this shark is very similar to that of an eel in that it is has similar jaw-to-head articulation and is grey in color. They have widely-shaped, sharp teeth, anywhere between 21 to 29 in their lower jaw and 19 to 28 in their upper jaw.
If the frilled shark wasn't scary enough, the goblin shark might give you nightmares.
This rare shark species is creepy and unusual, often described as "fossil-like."
You could easily pick it out of a police lineup thanks to its distinctive snout and pink-toned skin. It also has incredibly sharp teeth and a skinny, protruding jaw.
While they're not the biggest in the world, these sharks grow between 10 to 13 feet in length.
Living more than 100 meters below the surface of the ocean, humans rarely get to lay eyes on these monsters.
Zombie worms belong to the family of deep-sea siboglinid polychaetes. They are often referred to as "Osedax," which is Latin for "bone eaters." Zombie worms have the unique ability to burrow into a bone and eat it from the inside out.
You'll often see these worms feeding on the bones of whale carcasses that sink to the bottom of the sea.
There are special lipids inside bones that act as delicious meals for them. To bore into dense bones, they must use special root tissues.
The dumbo octopus is part of the umbrella octopus family.
If you're wondering, it gets its name from Dumbo the elephant, the friendly little character from Disney's 1941 animation, as it looks very similar.
Researchers first discovered the dumbo octopus in 1883, though the very first live dumbo octopus was not discovered until the 1990s when researchers got a deep-sea submersible down to the bottom of the ocean.
The barreleye fish might be one of the most unique Mariana Trench creatures in that its body looks like transparent plastic.
When looking at a barreleye fish, you can see all of the contents inside of its body.
It also has a transparent head that is filled with fluids, which makes it all the more alien-like.
With flat fins and a collapsible body, it is able to thrive more than 2,500 feet below the surface.
Another transparent bottom-dweller is the telescope octopus.
With eight tiny tentacles and a near-colorless body, this creature is a sight to behold.
The first person to ever observe this rare species was Dr. William Evans Hoyle in 1885.
To this day, we still don't know much more than Hoyle.
However, scientists believe that this octopus is a close glass octopus relative.
The sea cucumber makes up a good portion of life on the seafloor. What's incredibly unique about this creature is that it breathes through its anus.
This sea creature has leather-like skin and a long body that can stretch and shape in unique ways. There are more than 1,700 sea cucumber species around the world, and while many live in the Mariana Trench, most of them live in the Asian Pacific Ocean. As you may have guessed, they get their name from their shape, which closely resembles that of a cucumber.
With luminous body structures and gelatin-like structures, comb jellies diffract light that hits them.
This creature gets its name from the comb-like plates found in its body that help it move throughout the ocean.
While they're not one of the deadliest jellyfish, they are indeed the greediest. This deep-sea predator is known to eat other comb jellies, even when other food is available.
Exploring the Sea Floor
There you have it, a few of the most popular real Mariana Trench animals.
Of course, there are so many more creatures out there that we could talk about, as well as many we've yet to discover. In fact, we know just as much about the Mariana Trench and other deep parts of the ocean as we do about outer space. As the future unfolds, we hope to discover even more wild and wacky deep-sea specimens!