10 Marine Animals to get you in the Halloween Spirit
By: Ashley Gustafson
October is a month full of all sorts of spooky creatures and haunted horrors. This of course is because October is a month full of Halloween spirit. It is a time for ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and witches. It’s a time for scary stories and endless amounts of candy treats. While all these things encompass the basic essence of Halloween, this list aims to give attention to an unexpected crew of marine animals that also are in the Halloween mood.
1. Red-Lipped Batfish
As the name of this fish alludes, this fish rocks full red lips not just for Halloween dress up but all year round too. Named after Charles Darwin himself (Latin name Ogcocephalus darwini) this scarlet fish expectantly has many special adaptations. Found off the Galapagos Islands, this unique fish has pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins that rest on the sea floor and allow them to “walk.” These modifications allow the red-lipped batfish to move around easily on the sea floor. Another adaptation this ruby lipped starlet possesses is a dorsal fin shaped lure like their close relatives the angler fish. Like angler fishes, these guys are found in deep waters. Not to be fooled by their clownish appearance, these fish are serious carnivores. By using their modified dorsal spine (like the angler fish) to lure prey, they can devour small fish, various mollusks, and some crustaceans like shrimp and crab. While they are tremendous predators they are quite small reaching a maximum size of about 40 cm long.
As its image portrays, the dragonfish is a vision of deep sea nightmares. In classic Halloween fashion, this fish will terrify you to your core. Long and slender with large fangs that make you wince, these fish live at some of the ocean’s deepest depths from 5000-7000 feet. Living so deep can be very dark so naturally many species of dragonfish are bioluminescent, thus they glow in the dark. This is done through a special organ called a photophore which they have hanging from a long barbell like a fishing lure. They use this ability to create light to attract prey in the deep sea. There are several different species of dragonfish like the deep sea dragonfish and the black dragonfish all of which are very similar in appearance.
3. Vampire Squid
While this is rather obvious, vampires are synonymous with Halloween celebrations thus this list had to include the vampire squid. Like many of the organisms on this list, these mysterious little guys are also deep sea dwellers. Growing up to 6 inches, they inhabit tropical and temperate ocean waters with a depth range of 1800-3500 feet deep. Straight out of a classic science fiction story, they are the only surviving member of the ancient order Vampyromorphidia. As part of the Cephalopod family, it is one of the only members that share characteristics of both squid and octopuses. Like squid, in addition to its large ear like fins, it can move through water via propulsion by a specialized siphon located just below its mantle. Unlike most squid, they are very gelatinous, like a jelly fish. Like an octopus, the vampire squid has eight arms that are connected by a webbing of skin. However, it earns its name by having blood red eyes that are the largest of any animal relative to body size.
While its name may sound eerie, coffinfish are actually quite cute! They are a type of sea toad belonging to the family Chaunacidae. Despite their gloomy name, these plump pink colored fish are rather charming. They are able to walk on the sea floor using modified fins as “legs”. As this ability suggests, these are a primarily benthic fish species that span the southwestern Pacific Ocean with the largest populations off the eastern coast of Australia. These little guys desire depths from 900-1000 feet but have been witnessed lounging as shallow as 165 ft. Their balloon like demeanor and small stature (up to 8.1 inches) makes them awfully adorable but don’t be fooled , they are covered in tiny spines and can puff up to intimidate possible predators.
Tiny but creepy, this silver 1-6 inch fish has a gaze that will make you shudder. Even worse they are found in wide ranges worldwide from 600-4,500 feet below the ocean surface. In case you didn’t notice, these fish get their name from the hatchet-like shape of their body straight out of a horror movie. Overall, there are approximately 45 individual species of hatchetfish including both saltwater and freshwater species.
6. Goblin Shark
Just as its names suggests, goblin sharks are quite gruesome to look at. Goblins are notoriously nasty and undesirable and I have to say these sharks are one in the same. Alien esque, these guys patrol the deep waters or haunt your worst nightmares. They are ugly with a purpose though; they have that hideous, long snout to help detect pretty in the pitch black water they reside in. Their snout is covered in specialized pores that contain “ampullae of Lorenzini” which are electroreceptors that can pick up electric fields and thus movements and such in the water around them.
7. Elephant Seal
Now this one might just be my own little joke, but I have always thought these guys looked like seals trying to dress up like elephants. In that sense, these seals are always in a costume and trick or treat ready! While only adult males have the infamous “elephant trunk” once they reach sexual maturity, both males and females grow quite large. Males can grow up to 20 feet and 8800 pounds while, females can reach up to 10 feet long and up to 2000 pounds. There are two subspecies of elephant seal: the northern and southern with the southern species being the larger and reaching the above metrics.
8. Black Dolphin
Black dolphins are the black cats of the sea. Mysterious and dark there is not a whole lot people know for certain about this cetacean. These dolphins are found only in Chilean waters (sometimes called the Chilean dolphin) between Valparaison and S. Isla Navarine. In general, they are cautious and wary of human existence. In northern regions they can group in pods as large as 4,000 individuals and are much more sociable with human existence then their southern range counterpart. One thing that is known for certain, just like black cats, despite popular belief, there is not a thing unlucky about black dolphins.
9. Ghost Shrimp
While less exotic than other members on this list, it is without question that these shrimps are ready for some Halloween fun. Commonly seen in pet stores for feeders, there is more than meets the eye to these little guys. Also known as glass shrimp, they are completely translucent like that of a classical ghost. While the majority of these species are freshwater living, there are a few species that reside in marine habitats like the bay ghost shrimp.
10. Sarcastic Fringehead
Small but fearless, the sarcastic fringehead appears to be your average ocean dwelling fish but when startled or threatened they change into a completely different animal. Extremely aggressive, they charge anything that approaches their precious burrows. Much like a sneaky monster, these fish transform when they are angry. Their bizarre head protrudes outward with a massive mouth, and sharp teeth that almost looks like a mask. They will attack just about anything that gets in their range of vision. Definitely not who you want to encounter alone on a late night dive!