The Viperfish (Mesopelagic – found at 80-1600 meters – about a mile down) is one of the most wicked looking sea monsters. Some of them are black as night all over with light organs (called photophores) in strategic places on their bodies, including one on a long dorsal fin that serves as a lure for the fish it preys upon. Some viperfish (and many other deep ocean fish species) don’t have any pigment (color) at all – they’re transparent. They also have enlarged eyes, presumably for gathering as much light as possible where there is little or no light at all. The light organs of this sea animal create lights by using a chemical process called bioluminescence.
The fangtooth, also known as Anoplogaster cornuta, is another menacing looking creature that inhabits the deep waters of the ocean. Although it may look like a monster, it only grows to a size of about six inches in length. It has a short body and a large head. The fangtooth gets its name from the long, sharp, fang-like teeth that line its enormous, over-sized mouth. Its gruesome appearance has earned it the name, “ogrefish”. The color of the adults ranges from dark brown to black. Juveniles look completely different. They are light gray in color with long spines on their heads. The fangtooth is an extreme deep-water species that lives at depths of about 16,000 feet. The pressure at these depths is intense and the water temperature is near freezing. Food here is scarce, so the fangtooth will eat just about anything it can find. Most of its meals probably fall from the upper depths of the ocean. The fangtooth is found throughout the world in temperate and tropical ocean regions including the waters off the coast of Australia.
The Deep Sea Dragonfish, or Grammatostomias flagellibarba, is a ferocious predator in spite of its small size. It is one of many species known to inhabit the deep oceans of the world. This fish grows to about six inches in length. It has a large head and mouth equipped with many sharp, fang-like teeth. The dragonfish has a long barbel attached to its chin. This barbel is tipped with a light-producing organ known as a photophore. The dragonfish uses this organ like a fishing lure, flashing it on and off and waving it back and forth. Once an unsuspecting fish gets too close, it is snapped up in the dragonfish’s powerful jaws. The dragonfish also has photophores along the sides of its body. These light organs may be used to signal other dragonfish during mating. They may also serve to attract and disorient prey fishes from deep below. The Dragonfish lives in deep ocean waters at depths of up to 5000 feet (1,500 meters). They are found in most tropical regions around the world.
The deep sea angler, known also as Melanocetus johnsoni, is a grotesque-looking fish that lives in the extreme depths of the ocean. Its round body resembles a basketball, and indeed, it looks like it could easily swallow one. It has a large mouth likes with sharp, fang-like teeth. Its appearance has earned it a second name of “common black devil”. Despite its ferocious appearance, the angler only reaches a maximum length of about five inches. The angler gets its name from the long, modified dorsal spine which is tipped with a light producing organ known as a photophore. Like many other deep-water fish, the angler uses this organ like a lure to attract its prey. It will flash its light on and off while waving it back and forth like a fishing pole. When the prey fish gets close enough, the angler snaps it up with its powerful jaws. A strange fact about the deep sea angler is the fact that the male is smaller and different in appearance from the female, which is pictures above. The male of the species is about the size of a finger and has small hook teeth, which it uses to attach itself to the female. Once attached, its blood vessels join with that of the female and it will spend the rest of its life joined to her like a parasite, getting all of its nourishment from her body. If the male is unable to attach to a female, it will eventually dies of starvation. The deep sea angler is found throughout the world at depths of over 3000 feet.
1. Gulper Eel
The gulper eel, known scientifically as Eurypharynx pelecanoides, is perhaps one of the most bizarre looking creatures in the deep ocean. Its most notable attribute is the large mouth. The eel’s mouth is loosely hinged, and can be opened wide enough to swallow an animal much larger than itself. The hapless fish is then deposited into a pouch-like lower jaw, which resembles that of a pelican. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the pelican eel. The gulper’s stomach can also stretch to accommodate its large meals. This giant mouth gives the eel its other common name of umbrellamouth gulper. The eel also has a very long, whip-like tail. Specimens that have been brought to the surface in fishing nets have been known to have their long tails tied into several knots. The gulper eel grows to a length of about two to six feet and is found in all of the world’s oceans at depths ranging from 3000 to 6000 feet.