Alien Creatures of the Mariana Trench

May 15th, 2013 | Space


The Mariana Trench is the deepest, darkest portion of the ocean.  Its maximum-known depth is 10,911 meters, which is over 2000 meters deeper than Mount Everest is tall. Light only travels about 1000 meters into the ocean water, so more than 90% of the Mariana Trench exists in complete darkness.  This absence of light creates wild-looking animals that don’t seem to come from this world, so I thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the alien creatures here on the site.  I must admit, they all look a bit terrifying…

Mariana Trench map

The image at the top is a photograph of the Deep Sea Anglerfish.  It gets its name from an elongated dorsal spine that supports a light-producing organ, which it uses as a fishing lure to attract prey. It then uses those giant teeth to finish the victims off.


The Barreleye fish is very strange.  What you think are sad looking eyes are actually decoys, and the real eyes are those large, globes under the transparent dome of soft tissue.  Stephen Colbert called it the craziest F&@*ing thing he’s ever seen.

Mariana Trench Benthocodon

Benthocodon is a genus of jellyfish.  Like the Anglerfish, this animal uses bioluminescence to attract prey.  Those red wisps on the edge of its dome are fine red tentacles, which the animal uses to propel itself quickly through the water.

Mariana Trench Dragon Fish

The Deep Sea Dragonfish is a ferocious predator that lives at depths of up to 5000 meters. This animal is only about 6 inches long, so no need to fear for your life.  It has a striking resemblance to a Chinese Dragon, which is most likely where its name comes from.


The Dumbo Octopus is straight out of a Disney movie.  Its tentacles have a row of suckers and two rows of fleshy spikes for feeding.  Interesting fact: they don’t have a tough tongue with teeth like many molluscs.  Instead, they swallow their prey whole!

Mariana Trench Fanfin Seadevil

 The Fanfin Seadevil is another version of the Anglerfish, yet it doesn’t use bioluminescence to attract prey.  It is almost completely black, which makes it very stealthy in the dark depths of the ocean.  Interesting fact: the male is only 1/2 inch long, while the female grows up to 8 inches.


The Football Fish (great name!) is a globose Anglerfish, and it is said to be the first deep-sea Anglerfish ever discovered, washing ashore on a beach in Greenland in 1833.


This Frilled Shark was discovered back in 2007 by a Japanese fisherman.  Experts sometimes call this animal a “living fossil” because it belongs to a primitive species that has changed very little over millions of years.


The Goblin shark is one scary looking fish.  It hunts by sensing prey with electro-sensitive organs in its snout.  Once a goblin shark finds its prey, it suddenly protrudes its jaws, while using a tongue-like muscle to suck the victim into its sharp front teeth.  Wow!  It grows up to 3.3 meters and 159 kg.

Mariana Trench HatchetFish

Deep Sea Hatchetfish have extremely thin bodies which resemble the blade of a hatchet, but what I find more fascinating are those facial expressions!  Apparently, its eyes can focus close up or far away.


Martensia ovum also known as the Arctic comb jelly or Sea Nut, is a ctenophore that was first described back in 1790.  They can deploy tentacles that are up to 10-20 times its body length.


The Telescope Octopus gets its name from its uniquely-shaped tubular eyes.  It is transparent and nearly colorless, giving it an eery ghost-like appearance.

Mariana Trench Unidentified Anglerfish

 Another Anglerfish… from my nightmares… :/

Mariana Trench Unidentified Species

I have no idea what this thing is, nor could I find any useful information. Those sure do look like human lips though.. I could think of some creative (and NSFW) names for this one.


And last but not least, we have the Viperfish.  Its fangs are so large that they can’t fit inside its mouth.  Instead, they curve back very close to the fish’s eyes.  The Viperfish is thought to use these sharp teeth to impale its victims by swimming at them at high speeds.

Ok, that’s all for now.  It is important to note that these animals don’t really live at deepest portions of the Mariana Trench (10,000 meters +), where you’ll mostly just find bacteria and Xenophyophores. These creatures usually lurk somewhere between 1000 and 5000 meters.

Sweet dreams tonight!

Interested in this topic? You can find an awesome book on the creatures of the deep here:

It has 160 color photos of some incredible sea animals.


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