Aquatic Creepy Critters
By Sarah Ward
Living Seas Officer
The oceans are full of strange and scary looking beasts, but there are some creatures which are ready to celebrate Halloween all year round.
Although called Batfish, the juvenile form of these tropical creatures bear curious resemblance to dead leaves, so much so that they are often unnoticed in their mangrove environment. As they mature, they drastically change colour and shape before migrating to the ocean.
Circular Batfish © Sarah Ward
This deep-water shark gets its name from its uncanny resemblance to the creature of folklore. Unlike more familiar sharks, this species have a long, pointed snout and pink, ghostly skin.
These crabs are generally found on sandy beaches in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They dig themselves a burrow in which to live, emerging at night time.
Ghost Crab © Sarah Ward
Another creature of the dark deep sea, this spooky Cephalopod gets its name from the webbing between its arms, which resembles a vampire’s cape.
So-called for their rather strange diet – these worms eat bones. If that’s not creepy enough for you, male zombie worms are microscopic and generally live inside the females.
Locally here in Sussex, we have some wonderfully weird marine creatures who are the masters of disguise and certainly get our vote to take home the prize for best costume.
Also known as ‘decorator crabs’, these crustaceans have lots of spikes and spines on their shell which they use to adorn themselves with bits of seaweed and hydroids. A well-covered crab can be quite difficult to spot if it’s not moving.
Spider Crab © Bryony Chapman
These creatures are related to squid and octopus and have the ability to change colour. Using special cells in their skin, called chromatophores, cuttlefish can change colour to match their surroundings or communicate, sometimes even producing intricate patterns.
Cuttlefish © Paul Naylor
Flatfish actually start off life looking like a ‘normal’ fish; as they mature one of their eyes will migrate to the other side of their head. They will undergo a number of other physiological changes which allows them to lie flat on the sea bed. They have the ability to quickly bury themselves into sandy bottoms and their colouration allows them to match the sea floor.
Plaice © Paula Lightfoot