Our planet is full of species of various plants and animals. Thanks to this we live in an environment that is both vivid and unique at each and every corner, however, when we dive into the oceans it becomes even more fascinating. Sealife has always intrigued people for generations and some parts of it being inaccessible in the past have led to some truly chilling stories of sea monsters. What is more surprising is that only about 20% of the oceans have been mapped and the rest of it remains unknown, thanks to modern technology we are only now able to explore more of it. One particular area, the cold desert Antarctica has shown truly bizarre creatures in its waters.
Rare Marine Species of Antarctica
When scientists drilled a hole of about 900 meters into the ice shelves of Antarctica, a completely new and hidden world was discovered with species that had never been seen before. While there were some known animals that may have been swept underneath ice shelves due to ocean currents, but others were native to this habitat.
1. Sea Pig: Found roaming the muddy floors of the Ross Sea at the southern bay of Antarctica it is a type of sea cucumber. Its scientific name is Protelpidia Murrayi. They belong to a location known as the Abyss, and this place got its name because of its pitch-black surroundings. Sea pig dwells at the depth of about 400 to 900 meters. It has transparent skin and one can easily see its insides once brought to the surface and it has hydrostatic feet, which provide an equilibrium of fluids. As for their mouths, they have tiny tentacles and they breathe through their anus. Quite a different way of breathing but other species has it better.
2. Basket Star: As the name suggests, they are related to starfish. However, unlike starfish, the basket star possesses multiple flexible arms that they use to crawl on the ocean floor. They appear something straight out of a Hollywood movie as they resemble a tree more than an animal. They also have tiny hooks on their arms and thanks to these, they branch out their arms and catch any prey with them.
3. Ice Fish: This strange fish got its name, not because of its icy habitat but due to its lack of red blood cells and it is one of the rare fishes that exists here. While there are many species of insects and cephalopods that don’t have red blood cells, vertebrates are alive due to red blood cells as they transport vital oxygen in the bloodstream except the ice fish. According to the scientists, it is the lack of red blood cells that allows this fish to exists in such cold climates. They evolved in these environments and their genes encoding is such that they produce a natural antifreeze known as glycoprotein.
4. Hoff Crab: Though from the looks of it may seem like Antarctica is a cold place through and through, there are some hydrothermal vents in the sea bed that houses many creatures and among them is this creature named by the internet. A unique feature of this crab is that it has hairs and it fishes a specific bacteria that feeds on hydrothermal vents and upon farming enough bacteria on its hairs, it feeds on this bacteria using its comb-like mouth to sustain itself.
5. Glass Sponge: Sea sponges are known as one of the oldest living creatures on the planet and they are also important for marine life. Strangely enough, in Antarctica sponges are not made up of soft, squishy material but they are comprised of tissues that contain silica, and that’s from where they got their name. What confuses marine biologists is that for decades these sponges have seen little to no growth and recently they have expanded exponentially, and the only reason behind this is said to be climate change.
6. Sea Spiders: If you thought you could get away from the pesky arachnids in the water you thought wrong as they are even present in the coldest waters. However, they are not really arachnids, they belong to arthropods but still look similar enough to spiders to trigger arachnophobia. But compared to the spiders on the surface, these are gigantic with a leg span of up to 40 cm. These creatures use diffusion to circulate oxygen into their bodies which is a rarity as it doesn’t work well in big creatures.
As scientists have uncovered this region of the planet that had been secluded for millions of years, we have come across such strange creatures. Who knows what we will find if we start the expedition in other parts of the oceans as well, as marine life gets very strange very quickly.