JUL 22, 2016 10:21 AM PDT

What's Hiding Deep Within the Ocean?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

About 71 percent of Earth's surface is covered by water and it holds many of the world's most fascinating mysteries. There are millions of undiscovered creatures living in the ocean. Many of those living in the deep sea have been found to be massive due to deep sea gigantism. Here are four creatures we know about, but, I should warn, that while I state what we know as facts, the information is only what we have discovered thus far.

Only a few giant squid have ever been seen by human eyes. Thus, prior to video and the ability to study them as specimens, the giant squid was pegged as the "Kraken," in books such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Moby-Dick. A female giant squid can grow up to 43 feet long; a male up to 33 feet long.

Like other squids, the giant squid has a torso called the mantle, eight tentacle arms, and two longer feeding tentacles. When the squid captures its prey, it uses its feeding tentacles to bring its food towards its beak. The squid proceeds to shred the prey with its radula, a tongue covered in small teeth.

Giant isopods are elusive deep sea creatures that live at depths up to 2500 meters. These bottom dwellers are thought to be abundant in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Scientists believe these creatures can grow up to two feet in length, due to deep sea gigantism and the fact that the length may help them survive in such high pressures of the deep ocean. They usually feed on dead carcasses found on the ocean floor. Yet, because food is scarce in the deep ocean biome, they have the ability to survive through severe famines. This has been demonstrated by the giant isopods in captivity, which researchers say have survived for over five years without food.

Zombie worms, also known as boneworms, have been found at depths of 2983 meters on the bones of a decaying gray whale. While they don't have a mouth or stomach, they still manage to feed off the bones of dead whales and fish by secreting an acid that dissolves the bone in order to access nutrients. The root-like structures are all females, each with 50 to 100 microscopic males living inside.

Most would agree that the goblin shark is terrifying. Called a "living fossil," the pink-skinned shark can grow over 3 meters long. It detects its prey through electric fields produced by the nearby animals, which it then snatches by rapidly protruding its jaws.

Sources: National Geographic, Science Daily, Life Noggin, New Scientist
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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