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Peanut Worm, Faceless Fish, And More: Strange Sea Creatures Surprise Australian Scientists

19 June 2017, 8:18 am EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
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Here's the faceless fish, a deep sea fish without visible eyes and has only a mouth hidden underneath the head. The team of Australian scientists ventured into the abyss to learn more about the largely unexplored deep-sea environment and the extent of pollution in the area.   ( Museums Victoria | Facebook )

The deep sea once again exceeds expectations and reveals new, unique species home to the deep, dark, and largely unexplored abyss.

There’s a bizarre creature called the peanut worm found by a team from Museums Victoria in Australia, as they just came back from their month-long expedition into the ocean off the Australian coast. Their discoveries also include a faceless fish, a zombie worm, and other spineless, faceless animals not yet previously encountered by science.

Finding The ‘Ugly’ And The Bizarre

Throughout June, the team were onboard their research vessel The Investigator, exploring a habitat 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) below sea called the eastern abyss.

Among those uncovered is the peanut worm, which also notable for closely resembling the human penis. Its name came from the fact that once threatened, the animal — which can reproduce sexually and asexually — can contract its long head inward, and then resemble a peanut.

The team also rediscovered the faceless fish, a deep sea fish without visible eyes and has only a mouth hidden underneath the head. Discovered in 1873, the creature had never been spotted again until now. Today, around a third of the species that the team brought back had never been seen before, and will then be sent to Australian laboratories for further probe.

Other interesting deep-sea finds include the red coffinfish, with bluish eyes and red feet; the blob fish, deemed the “world’s ugliest animal”; the cookie cutter shark, a little bioluminescent one with neatly arranged serrated teeth; the red spiny crab, which is related to hermit crabs but isn’t really a crab itself; and a range of flesh-eating crustaceans and microscopic critters.

Mission’s Significance

The team of 58 scientists, technicians, and crew ventured into the abyss for a good reason.

“Australia’s deep-see environment is larger in size than the mainland, and until now, almost nothing was known about life on the abyssal plain,” explained chief scientist Dr. Tim O’Hara, expressing excitement over their discoveries and sharing them to the global public.

Some of the strange-looking creatures, for instance, will be exhibited at Museums Victoria in the following months, while others will be stored in its natural science collection.

The month-long mission also sought to investigate the pollution that may be occurring on the sea floor, including microplastics lying on the ocean surface.

The team saw bottles, PVC pipes, beer cans, and “highly concerning levels of rubbish” on the seafloor, warned O’Hara, hoping the information could influence attitudes toward waste disposal.

Data from their expedition, too, will inform researchers and government on long-term deep sea protection through an accurate mapping of the seafloor. Maps from sonar as well as underwater camera vision disclosed a diverse terrain of mountains, canyons, and rocky plains under the sea.

Further analysis will tell the scientists more about the weird, wonderful deep sea creatures and how to better protect their less-researched habitat.

Separate deep-sea expeditions that revealed new and curious creatures, such as an eerie-looking cosmic jellyfish, include a dive of the U.S. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the remote American Samoa region of the Pacific. The mission sought to hold one of the first expansive probes of the 13,581-square mile marine sanctuary comprising the seamount.

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