October 22, 2010

Just in time for Halloween – MBARI videos of spooky deep-sea animals

The deep sea is a pretty spooky place. It’s pitch black, freezing cold, and inhabited by a lot of weird animals. Here are five videos showing some of the spooky animals we’ve seen down where the sun never shines. All of these videos were taken by MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles – robotic submersibles that are tethered to a host ship at the sea surface.

Just a few months ago, MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts captured this video of a cirrate octopus swimming, ghostlike, over the Taney Seamounts, about 200 miles off the California Coast.

This next video shows a distant relative of the octopuses called Vampyroteuthis infernalis. It’s Latin name translates literally to “Vampire Squid from Hell”. Though very creepy looking, this animal is only about the size of a football. In addition to having huge, bright blue eyes, its tentacle tips glow in the dark.

Next on the spooky list are these recently discovered worms that could have come straight out of a classic horror story. Thousands of these eyeless, mouthless creatures lurk in the darkness, releasing tiny larvae that settle onto the carcasses of dead animals, and send out green “roots” to infiltrate and devour their bones.

Another stranger-than-fiction deep-sea animal is this fish with a transparent head. MBARI researchers videotaped this fish hanging motionless in the water, its eyes glowing a vivid green in the ROV’s bright lights.

To finish up our collection of unimaginable creatures, check out this amazing squid that MBARI geologists literally bumped into while exploring the deep seafloor off Oahu, Hawaii. This animal was between four and six meters (13 to 20 feet) long. It’s not going to happen, but just imagine what it would be like to go swimming off Waikiki and feel those long, thin, sticky tentacles reaching up from the depths to wrap around your legs…

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org