Whales Of The Deep

8 curious creatures of the deep

Looking for the next Blue Planet II? Dive into this fascinating documentary on Nat Geo WILD HD…

National Geographic’s new documentary takes you into the darkest depths of the ocean to discover some of Earth’s weirdest animals

Whales Of The Deep, Sunday 17 December, 6pm, Nat Geo WILD/HD (CH 264/265). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > National Geographic 

Scientists know less about the deepest parts of the ocean than they do about outer space. It’s a hostile world, beyond the reach of sunlight and under immense pressure from the weight of all that water.

Yet this seemingly desolate environment is filled with life – in fact, it’s the largest habitat on Earth. And while humans aren’t equipped to spend time in such dark, cold waters, other intelligent mammals regularly dive into this shadowy realm to search for food.

 

A remarkable new documentary on Nat Geo WILD HD, Whales Of The Deep, follows the journey of sperm whales as they navigate the deepest parts of the oceans. As well as showcasing the amazing anatomy of these mega-sized mammals, the film shines a rare spotlight on the deep sea’s other animals, revealing the bizarre but brilliant adaptations they rely on to survive.

 

So if you’re looking for your next factual fix after Blue Planet II, this one’s for you. Better yet, Nat Geo WILD HD is only available to Full House TV customers like you, so this one’s a little bit extra special… Fancy meeting some of the deep’s weirdest residents? Keep reading to find out about the creatures that call this inhospitable world home. 

 

Goblin shark

If Jaws gave you nightmares, it’s probably best to steer clear of this guy. The goblin shark is as gruesome-looking as they come, with an unnerving elongated snout and an extendable jaw filled with up to 62 distinct rows of needle-like teeth. Luckily they’re hardly ever encountered by humans, owing to the fact that they live at depths of more than 100 metres below the water’s surface. 

 

Fangtooth

Relative to its body size, the fangtooth fish has the largest teeth of any marine animal. These formidable hunters use their ginormous gnashers to chomp on squid and small fish. Its teeth are so massive that it can barely close its mouth – in fact, some of the fangs on its lower jaw slot into their own designated sockets so that the fish doesn’t impale its own brain.

 

Vampire squid

Vampyroteuthis infernalis (literal translation: “vampire squid from hell”) wouldn’t be out of place in a creepy Guillermo del Toro movie. With a black cloak of skin connecting its eight arms and a pair of bulging red eyes, this tentacled terror is undoubtedly vampiric in appearance. When threatened, it emits a cloud of bioluminescent mucus – then vanishes into the darkness.

 

Dumbo octopus

The adorable Dumbo octopus is something of an anomaly in the spine-chilling deep – who’d have thought something so cute could live alongside the likes of goblin sharks and vampire squids? These miniature cephalopods were named for the large ear-like fins they use to propel themselves around, which bear a resemblance to the oversized lugs of Disney’s flying elephant.

 

Barreleye

The deep ocean is home to some truly weird creatures, but the barreleye is among the strangest. This fish’s most striking feature is its transparent head, which houses a pair of vertical, barrel-shaped eyes. By staring up through its own see-through brain, the barreleye is able to lurk in the darkness and stealthily watch its prey before silently snapping it up. The spectral appearance of this oddball’s head has given it the nickname “spook fish”.

 

Sea toad

While it’s not technically a toad, this bottom-dwelling fish looks a bit like one due to its enormous mouth, stout body and uncanny habit of shuffling along the sea bed using its legs. Yes, legs – the sea toad spends so long sitting on the ocean floor that its rear fins have evolved into makeshift feet, allowing it to amble through the muddy depths in search of food. 

 

Japanese spider crab

With a leg-span of up to 5.5 metres, the Japanese spider crab is the world’s largest crustacean. These giant arthropods make their homes in vents and deep sea crevices, blending in with the rocky surroundings thanks to their lumps and bumps. Some spider crabs take their camouflage to another level, adorning their bodies with sponges and seaweed to disguise themselves. 

 

Anglerfish

Lots of deep sea creatures use bioluminescence to their advantage, and the anglerfish is a prime example. The female anglerfish uses a rod-like appendage tipped with a glowing organ to lure her prey. With light so scarce in the murky ocean depths, smaller fish can’t resist checking out the shiny dot – and before the prey knows it’s been fooled, it’s been snapped up in the anglerfish’s gaping jaws. Male anglerfish lack the female’s luminous lure – their only purpose in life is to locate and impregnate a mate, permanently fusing their bodies together in the process. Aww…

 

Whales Of The Deep, Sunday 17 December, 6pm, Nat Geo WILD/HD (CH 264/265). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > National Geographic 

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Image credits: Whales Of The Deep © SAINT THOMAS PROD