8 Strange Sea Creatures

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With new species being discovered all the time, there seems to be no end to the strange wonders of the seas.

1. Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy sea dragons are in the same family as sea horses, but have awesome camouflage appendages that make them indistinguishable from the surrounding plants in the wild. Its only outwardly moving part is a fin that it uses to propel itself, but that fin is transparent! Like sea horses, the female transfers fertilized eggs to the male, who carries them until they hatch. Wild sea dragons are only found in the waters off Australia. See a variety of beautiful sea dragons in this gallery. Image by Flickr user Denis-Carl Robidoux.

2. Christmas Tree Worm

Spirobranchus giganteus comes in many colors and is called the Christmas Tree Worm because of the spiral cone shape of its two feeding crowns. This worm attaches to tropical coral reefs and feeds by gathering microscopic bits in their cilial appendages, or fringe. Image by Wikipedia user Nhobgood.

3. Geoduck

geoduck @ $40/lb

A geoduck is not a duck and it has nothing to do with geology. In fact, the geo isn't even pronounced like you'd think -its "gooey-duck." They are large clams with small shells that they don't quite fit into. But they don't need to in the wild, as they bury themselves in the coastal sand of the northern Pacific and stay in one place all their lives. Geoducks can live for up to 160 years, as far as we know, and they grow larger all that time. The large meaty "neck" is actually a siphon that extends to the surface -and can grow up to three feet long! This is the part of the animal that is eaten. Because of its shape, a geoduck meal is considered a sexual stimulant in Asia, where the meat brings a high price. Geoduck farms have sprung up to supply meat, since digging out wild specimens is not only difficult but legally limited in the U.S. Image by Flickr user Dave Han.

4. The Exquisite Sea Urchin

Strange Creatures

There are about 700 known species of sea urchins. Coelopleurus exquisitus is a species discovered in 2005 in New Caledonia. It was named "exquisitus" for its beautiful markings. This picture shows two sea urchin skeletons stacked; the upper urchin is Coelopleurus exquisitus. Image by Flickr user jurvetson.

5. The Googly-eyed Glass Squid

You can see how the Googly-eyed Glass Squid got its common name. It is also known as Teuthowenia pellucida. This transparent creature is found in oceans of the southern hemisphere. When threatened, it fills itself with water to appear larger and more intimidating, which despite its laughable appearance to us, might work with other sea creatures. Not only is this squid transparent, but it glows in the dark! Image by David Shale, University of Aberdeen.

6. Tripod Fish

The Tripod Fish was named for its ability to stand on three fins. Bathypterois grallator roams the great depths of the Abyssal zone. The fish body is only about 14 inches, but the three long bony fins it rests upon can be a yard long! Tripod fish have both male and female reproductive organs, and can reproduce with itself if it can't find a mate. See a video of the Tripod Fish coming to rest on its fins. Image by Nigel Merrett.

7. Terrible Claw Lobster

Dinochelus ausubeli was first found in 2007 off the Philippines. Dinochelus, a new genus designated for this creature, literally means "terrible claw." Its species name is for Jesse Ausubel, who sponsored the marine census by which it was discovered. This lobster is tiny, but its one longer claw is almost as long as its body, and both claws have spines along the edges to grasp prey. Not much is known yet about this lobster's lifestyle. Image by Tin-Yam Chan, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung.

8. Nudibranch

Nudibranchs are sea snails with no shell. The 3,000 or so species come in different shapes and all kinds of bright colors, which should make them vulnerable to predators. However, many species are toxic. Some nudibranchs produce poisons themselves, while others save chemicals, or even stingers, from the toxic sponges that they eat! See more colorful nudibranchs in this gallery. Image by David Doubilet.

See also: 8 More Weird Sea Creatures

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September 20, 2011 - 5:43am
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