Here’s another one that looks like it should be a dangerous alien freak: The oarfish.
They can get as long as 11 m or more, and are so elusive as to have taken on an almost legendary status (they may be the ones behind the old sea serpent myths). So when two of them washed ashore off of California, scientists went nuts:
Seriously, look at that thing in the video above. Those spines, that face and that incredible length. It should be a real terror from the deep, right?
Well…no. Sadly, the natural world has disappointed us once again. First of all, as ugly as it is, this source says it doesn’t even have any visible teeth, and even if it did, it usually lives hundreds of metres down, so the chances of you being stalked by one are remote.
That’s even if it could be bothered to chase you. According to the NOAA scientist in this podcast, these beasties are actually weak swimmers, at the mercy of any strong currents they happen to get caught in.
See how the vacationers in the video below had to help one get back to its elements, and how leisurely its ‘escape’ was:
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn’t even catch one on camera until 2001, but the latest cases of them washing up has rocketed them back into the public mind.
They couldn’t call this species the “giant” squid, because that monicker had already been taken by another, woefully misnamed species.
Before we get into the size, we’d like you to take a look at the YouTube video below, because words don’t have quite the same impact as seeing it for yourself.
Go on. We’ll wait.
Did you see the teeth in the suckers? And the rotating hooks in its OTHER suckers? And the softball-sized beak? That’s what the colossal squid is bringing to the game even before we factor in the fact they can grow as much as 14 m.
Now, we should say: No one has actually caught one that large yet. This source says there have only been a handful of individuals hauled up since the 1925, and most of the time the only evidence of them are their undigested beaks, recovered from the bellies of sperm whales.
One specimen that was recovered whole was the huge creature below, hauled up from 1,800 m beneath the waves by people who thought they were hooking a toothfish.
Image: Government of New Zealand.
In the water, it was estimated to be around 10 m, but by the time they got it to a museum in New Zealand, it had shrunk to a paltry 4.2 m.
So the good news is, they don’t spend much time at depths we’re likely to encounter them. The bad news? This source says they make up around 77 per cent of sperm whales’ diets, so there could be a LOT of them down there in the deeps.
FEATURE VIDEO: It's not all horrible. See the video below for a baby deer rescue.