Pictures show creepy deep-sea animals, some never before seen, discovered near islands off the coast of Australia




  • In Science
  • 2022-12-02 13:46:11Z
  • By Business Insider
 
A collage shows four of the animals found near the Cocos islands.
A collage shows four of the animals found near the Cocos islands.  
  • Scientists explored the recesses of the ocean floor off the Cocos (Keeling) Islands near Australia.

  • They found a host of bizarre sea creatures, from the tribute spiderfish to the bony-eared assfish.

  • One animal, a blind eel that gives birth to live young, had never been seen before.

Scientists exploring the floor of the deep sea around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean found a landscape teeming with deep sea life, some of which had never been seen before.

Here are some of the bizarre animals they found, in pictures.

 

This eel, which is blind and has gooey skin, had never been seen before

Sciadonus-2
Sciadonus-2  

The eel, found about three miles below the surface, is new to science.

Fish usually lay eggs that grow on rock faces or the sea bed. But, unusually, this fish's babies grow inside its belly and it gives birth to live young, per the press release.

This fish was found about three miles below the surface.

This highfin lizard fish is hermaphroditic

Highfin lizard fish
Highfin lizard fish  

The highfin lizard fish is a voracious hunters of the deep sea, with its clear translucent skin characteristic of deep-sea animals that don't see the light of day.

These fish set themselves apart by being hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive tissue.

This fish, which has a massive head and a tiny body, is called the bony-eared assfish

Bony-eared Assfish
Bony-eared Assfish  

Also known by the scientific name Acanthonus armatus, this eel also goes by bony-eared assfish.

You can see a video of the fish in action here.

A creepy conger was found 0.6 miles below the surface

Congridae
Congridae  

Congers are eels that tend to pop up from the seabed like grasses.

This goofy-looking batfish is a formidable hunter

Batfish
Batfish  

Like many other deep-sea animals, the batfish uses light to lure its prey in the dark of the ocean.

This fish's luminescent lure is on its snout.

This fish, called a loosejaw, attracts its prey using red and blue glowing lights near its eyes

Malacodsteus
Malacodsteus  

The loosejaw gets its name from its impressive lower jaw and is another fish that uses light as bait.

Here, the luminescent organs, called photophores, are right beneath the fish's eyes and light up blue and red.

You can see the photophores in action here.

The viperfish has teeth so large they stick out of its mouth

A viperfish.
A viperfish.  

Sloane's viperfish, with its massive fangs, also lights up when it wants to, using a set of photophores that line its whole body.

You can see a video of the fish here.

This fish has long rigid fins that help it prop itself up from the bottom of the sea floor

Tribute Spiderfish
Tribute Spiderfish  

The tribute spiderfish's fins are hardened, allowing it to prop itself up on the seabed like a tripod.

That's the perfect height for catching shrimp drifting past on the current.

This fangfish only comes out at night

Fangfish
Fangfish  

The fangfish is a vicious predator.

Like many other deep-sea predators, it lurks in the near darkness of the deep sea during the day, then rises to shallower waters to hunt at night, in a process known as diel migration.

These leggy red starfish prove deep sea life can be full of color.

red starfish in a jar
red starfish in a jar  

Not all animals at the bottom of the sea floor are colorless. Scientists also found these bright red starfish on their expedition.

The squat lobster is another example of a vividly-colored animal found on the deep seabed

Squat Lobster
Squat Lobster  

This squat lobster is another example of the brightly-colored animals dotting the floor of the deep sea.

A mission to explore earth's final frontiers

Cocos islands are shown on a map west of Australia
Cocos islands are shown on a map west of Australia's coast.  

These animals were captured as part of a research mission by Australia's national science agency CSIRO.

In September 2022, the Investigator, a research vessel, set off to explore the seabed around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory made up of 27 islands in the Indian Ocean.

Located more than 600 miles from the nearest landmass, very little is known about the sea life around these islands.

"There's still parts of the world that are completely unknown," Tim O'Hara, chief scientist on the expedition and Senior Curator of Marine Invertebrates at Museums Victoria, said.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands rest on huge mountains under the water.

The Cocos islands are seen resting on huge mountains under the water.
The Cocos islands are seen resting on huge mountains under the water.  

During the mission, the Investigator surveyed the landscape under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This revealed huge mountains made by ancient volcanos.

These can be 43 miles across and three miles high, O'Hara said. That's about as tall as Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

"They're massive," he added.

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