Deep-Sea Creatures

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Frilled Shark

Humans rarely encounter frilled sharks, which prefer to remain in the oceans' depths, up to 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface. Considered living fossils, frilled sharks bear many physical characteristics of ancestors who swam the seas in the time of the dinosaurs.

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Frilled Shark
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Giant Spider Crab

Thought to be the largest arthropods on Earth, giant spider crabs spend their time foraging on the ocean floor up to a thousand feet (300 meters) deep. These rare, leggy behemoths, native to the waters off Japan, can measure up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) from claw tip to claw tip.

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Giant Spider Crab
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Atlantic Wolffish Pair

The sinister-looking Atlantic wolffish makes its home in the rocky coastal depths up to 1,600 feet (500 meters) below. Reaching 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, wolffish have conspicuous dentition suited to a diet of hard-shelled mollusks, crabs, and sea urchins.

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Atlantic Wolffish Pair
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Fangtooth Fish

The nightmarish fangtooth is among the deepest-living fish ever discovered. The fish's normal habitat ranges as high as about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters), but it has been found swimming at icy, crushing depths near 16,500 feet (5,000 meters). Fangtooth fish reach only about six inches (16 centimeters) long, but their namesake teeth are the largest, proportionate to body size, of any fish.

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Fangtooth Fish
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Six-Gill Shark

Six-gill sharks, like this one off the coast of Vancouver, cruise the ocean floor during the day, sometimes as deep as 8,200 feet (2,500 meters), then move toward the surface at night to feed. They can reach impressive lengths of 16 feet (4.8 meters) on a diet of other sharks, rays, squids, crabs, and occasionally seals.

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Six-Gill Shark
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Giant Tube Worms

Crushing pressure, freezing temperatures, and zero sunlight isn't enough of a challenge for giant tube worms. They've adapted to thrive at the edge of hydrothermal vents, which spew superheated water saturated with toxic chemicals. This colony was photographed 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) below the ocean's surface on the East Pacific Rise near the Galápagos Islands.

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Giant Tube Worms
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Vampire Squid

Vampire squid is an apt name for a creature that lurks in the lightless depths of the ocean. Comfortable at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) below the surface, these diminutive cephalopods navigate the blackness with eyes that are proportionately the largest of any animal on Earth. The species gets its name from its dark, webbed arms, which it can draw over itself like a cloak.

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Vampire Squid
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Pacific Viperfish

The Pacific viperfish has jagged, needlelike teeth so outsized it can't close its mouth. These deep-sea demons reach only about 8 inches (25 centimeters) long. They troll the depths up to 13,000 feet (4,400 meters) below, luring prey with bioluminescent photophores on their bellies.

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Pacific Viperfish
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Wolffish

An orthodontist's dream, an Atlantic wolffish displays the hardware it uses to crush mollusks, shellfish, and sea urchins. These tough-looking predators swim as deep as 2,000 feet (600 meters) and range from the Scandinavian coast to Cape Cod to the Mediterranean.

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Wolffish
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Deep-Sea Creatures

Fascinating creatures from the depth of the ocean...

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Deep-Sea Creatures
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