We hope that you greatly enjoy this article about 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates. The myriad forms of life on our planet never cease to amaze us with their endless variety. These few represent only the merest handful of the millions of species that live on the Earth today. But, we hope that they whet your appetite for more. Hopefully, the information contained herein will fascinate and amaze you, and create a desire to learn more.
Black Sea Hare
Black Sea Hare Facts
- The first of our choices for inclusion in this article about 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the fabulous Black Sea Hare.
- Firstly, the truly stunning creature represents an extremely large species of animal known as a sea slug. For the moment, a total of roughly 3,000 recognized varieties of such creatures exist. Furthermore, this creature actually forms the largest all of presently known related species.
- Yet, its superior size alone does not constitute its only difference from related creatures. Nature, it would, chose to set it apart from its brethren in more ways than one. This holds true, in part, because unlike most of its brethren, this remarkable sea slug actually does not produce ink.
- In addition, its evolved defensive measures also set it apart from similar creatures. Since it lacks ink, the invertebrate protects itself from predators by making its flesh undesirable to them. While other species also do this, it approaches it from a rather unusual angle.
- This occurs due to the fact that its principle food source contains natural toxins. However, the Black Sea Hare evolved a natural immunity to such poisons. As a result of its consumption of the animals, the toxin builds up concentrations in its flesh sufficient to make it lethal to potential predators.
Black Sea Hare Physical Description
Most notably, the fabulous sea slug known as the Black Sea Hare remains a truly impressive physical specimen of its kind. That’s because this tunning creature ranks as a true giant, at least compared to species sharing its Order.
However, sexual dimorphism plays no noticeable natural role for this invertebrate. That holds true because it evolved as a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Due to this, each individual remains both male and female throughout its life.
First of all, mature individuals attain an average size of about 15 in (38 cm) in length. However, exceptional specimens do occasionally occur. Therefore, some individuals reach total lengths of as much as 39 in (99 cm).
In addition, it grows to a rather astounding weight for its kind. This holds true because an average weight for this slug equals roughly 15 lb (6.8 kg). Yet those same exceptional specimens sometimes reach a weight of as much as 31 lb (14 kg).
Furthermore, the relatively enormous body generally presents a dark black in coloring. Yet, occasionally different shades sometimes appear. And lastly, the body itself remains comparatively firm in relation to similar animals.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Order: Heterobranchia
- Family: Aplysiidae
- Genus: Aplysia
- Species: A. vaccaria
Black Sea Hare Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the incredible Black Sea Hare has a restricted habitat range. That’s because it only inhabits the coastal waters of two areas. These consist of the coast of California, in the United States, and Baja California, Mexico.
In addition, like others of its kind, this truly remarkable animal has an entirely herbivorous diet. However, in its case, it also has a highly specific one. It only feeds on kelp and brown seaweed, being immune to its toxins.
This fabulous and quite surprising animal also grows quite rapidly, at least in relation to its relatives. In point of fact, an average weight gain per day among individuals monitored equaled nearly an astonishing 5 grams per day.
Finally, being hermaphroditic in nature also gives it a decided edge over competing species. Due to this remarkable evolutionary trait, any two individuals can reproduce together. But sadly, its average lifespan on equals roughly one year.
Bearded Fireworm Facts
- Our next selection to include in this article on 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the truly awesome Bearded Fireworm.
- Most notably, the absolutely amazing creature remains one of the most distinctive types of marine bristleworm known to man. That one single statement actually says quite a lot, to those with a knowledge of marine life. That’s because of the fact that more than 10,000 species currently remain known to researchers.
- But, regardless of its threatening reputation, this fascinating animal does not generally appear to be overtly aggressive to humans. However, if accidentally encountered, the venom-filled bristles do often inflict an intense burning sensation in its unfortunate victims. This feeling, quite naturally, serves as the source of the unique common name.
- Finally, even when encountered, its venom does not rank as directly dangerous to humans, in itself. Typically, the effects of this powerful neurotoxin merely include nausea and dizziness, in addition to the burning sensation. But, the possibility of an allergic reaction remains, as always, as well as potential interaction with certain medications.
Bearded Fireworm Physical Description
Firstly, the Bearded Fireworm, despite its fearsome appearance, typically only attains a maximum length of roughly 4 in (10 cm). However, exceptional individuals do occasionally reach significantly greater lengths. In fact, some specimens even reach lengths of as much as 13.8 in (35 cm).
Secondly, the body of this amazing creature also develops as quite highly elongated and flattened in general shape. Additionally, in appearance, these fabulous animals often present a wide variety of bright colors. Furthermore, these colors often vary widely between individuals, but with no sign of sexual dimorphism.
In addition, the bodies also usually display a covering of comparatively stiff bristles. These typically flare when the animal feels threatened. The bristles inject the powerful neurotoxin. While it remains relatively harmless to humans, it nevertheless appears quite effective against predators.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Annelida
- Class: Polychaeta
- Order: Amphinomida
- Family: Amphinomidae
- Genus: Hermodice
- Species: H. carunculata
Bearded Fireworm Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Bearded Fireworm represents a variety of marine bristleworm endemic to the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. The species also seems to inhabit the coastal waters around Cyprus and the Maltese Archipelago.
Individuals most commonly live on reefs, on some mud bottoms, and under stones in rocky areas of the ocean floor. In addition, it also prefers depths of up to 492 ft (150 m). The majority of its population occurs along the coasts of Central America and South America, as well as Europe.
Within its native habitat, individuals also represent extremely voracious predators. The Bearded Fireworm primarily preys on coral, small crustaceans, and anemones. However, it does supplement its diet with small amounts of plant material at times.
Sunflower Sea Star
Banded Piglet Squid Facts
- Placing in the third position on our list of 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the incredibly unusual species known as the Sunflower Sea Star.
- This stunning marine creature most frequently goes by the descriptive, as well as informative, common name for understandable reasons. That term’s easier to pronounce than its official name, thankfully. The technical name’s truly hard to pronounce.
- That’s because scientists know it best by the term of the Pycnopodia helianthoides. Regardless of which name one uses to refer to it though, it’s a marvel of evolution. It also stands out from its many related species due to the sheer size mature adults attain.
- The German-Russian naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt made the first formal recognition of it as a separae and distinct species. This noteworthy acknowledgement he accomplished in the year 1835. The reason for the name is a matter of speculation.
- Unfortunately, the population of this marvelous creature began to decline precipitiously around the year 2013. At that time, researchers discovered that much of its population suffered from a disease appropriately called Sea Star Wasting Disease.
- Evidence further indicates that the population loss for the species since that time approaches 90%. The IUCN, therefore, presently lists it as Critically Endangered. Sadly, though, the Sunflower Sea Star also remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Sunflower Sea Star Physical Description
Many animals garner admiration or appreciation either for their size or appearance, but not the Sunflower Sea Star. That’s because it easily qualifies as one of the very small percentage that deserve notice for both qualities. The animal shows no sexual dimorphism, though.
For the moment, its ranking in terms of size remains a matter of small debate among researchers. As it currently stands, therefore, it’s either the largest or the second-largest of all known sea stars. Either ranking clearly earns it a full measure of notice.
Mature individuals of this amazing species attain an arm span of as much as 3.3 ft ( 1m)! Another species, though, the Midgardia xandaros, actually possesses a significantly greater arm span. It has a much smaller body and mass than the Sunflower Sea Star, however.
The appearance of this wonder of Nature also earns it much notice among those who encounter it. That’s because most adults display between 16 – 24 arms. Interestingly, however, infants have only 5 of these. The others appear as the creature ages.
The enormous echinoderm further tends to present bright, vivid colors. These also vary broadly between individuals, apparently independent of gender. These hues include shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and brown. Some individuals even present shades of purple.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Echinodermata
- Class: Asteroidea
- Order: Forcipulatida
- Family: Asteriidae
- Genus: Pycnopodia
- Species: P. helianthoides
Sunflower Sea Star Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Although the population of the magnificent Sunflower Sea Star has greatly diminsihed, its overall range remains the same. It also evolved as endemic to a relatively wide swathe of the Pacific Ocean. More precisely, it appears in parts of the northeast Pacific Ocean.
Within that region of the globe, the animal appears, though now in small, scattered concentrations, in a specific territory. That native range extends from southern California, in the continental United States, in North America, to as far north as the state of Alaska.
The creature further displays very definite preferences in its choice of habitat. Virtually all observed individuals appear in either subtidal or intertidal regions. Its depth range typically extends from 435 – 1,428 ft (132.6 – 435.3 m). It also appears in regions of kelp or seaweed.
It’s also relatively quick, for a member of its Order. With its roughly 15,000 tube feet, it moves along the sea floor at speeds of roughly 3.3 ft (1 m) per minute. The carnivore prefers to dine mainly on sea urchins, but also consumes snails, sea cucumbers, and clams.
Its own predators include large fish, and even other sea stars of sufficient size, while it’s still young. The king crab also considers it a favorite meal. The animal even has the ability to break off one or more of its own arms, if attacked. This lets it escape complete consumption.
The remarkable Sunflower Sea Star, like others of its kind, reproduces through broadcast spawning. The young begin life as microscopic larvae, that float to the surface for 2 – 10 weeks. Following this period, they drop to the ocean floor, to live out the rest of their lives.
Sea Pig Facts
- Coming up next in this compendium of 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates, but only due to random selection, is the amazing Sea Pig.
- First of all, the distinctive term serves as the common name for any of the three species of Echinoderms classified in the genus Scotoplanes. Quite understandably, the surprisingly strong resemblance to a type of small pig serves as the source of the attention-grabbing common name.
- However, not all member species in this remarkable genus display this particular appearance. But, the three distinct varieties of this deep-sea holothurian obviously do share numerous other similarities. These similarities include both physical attributes and habitat preferences.
- For the moment, the IUCN does not list any of the three types of Sea Pig on its Red List of Threatened Species. Nonetheless, many presently consider these fascinating animals to be in danger. Those individuals who hold this belief take several important factors into consideration.
- The principal threat to the survival of the creature comes from deep-sea trawling. This detrimental fishing practice negatively affects many ocean species. Yet, this truly remarkable creature of the ocean also faces the looming threat of climate change, like many species.
Sea Pig Physical Description
Given the fact that the term Sea Pig refers to any of three different species, physical appearances naturally exist among them. However, all three do share many characteristics. Physical size remains the most consistent, along with the fact that none of the varieties displays any noticeable degree of gender-based differences.
Because of this fact, all known forms of this marvelous creature attain an average maximum length of about 6 in (15 cm). Exceptional individuals do occur, of course, but these remain comparatively rare. As a general rule, most of the individuals measured, of any of the varieties, average closer to 4 in (10 cm) in body length.
Furthermore, all members of this fascinating genus also evolved greatly over-sized tube feet. These appendages give them the appearance of possessing actual legs. Also, depending upon the species, these animals will possess between 5-7 pairs of these feet. What appears to be antennae, are actually modified tube feet as well.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Echinodermata
- Class: Holothuroidea
- Order: Elasipodida
- Family: Elpidiidae
- Genus: Scotoplanes
Sea Pig Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most notably, the awesome creature known simply as the Sea Pig appears to have an extremely extensive habitat range. In fact, it inhabits most of the oceans of the world. However, these animals mainly appear in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. But some even live in the Antarctic Ocean.
However, this incredible animal inhabits an extremely inhospitable region of the oceans. That’s because this marvel of Nature resides solely on the ocean floor. Furthermore, it typically appears at extreme depths exceeding 3,280 ft (1,000 m). It also most commonly appears on the abyssal plain
In addition, the animal evolved as a what experts know as a deposit feeder. The species all feed by using olfaction to locate their food sources and then extracting particles of detritus from the ocean bottom. Also, individuals often gather in great numbers, especially around larger corpses.
Quite unfortunately, this habit makes them highly vulnerable to such dangers as commercial trawling. The slow-moving animal also constitutes a principal food source for many deep-sea predators. Thus, these losses pose a significant threat to the survival of the three species as well.
Yeti Crab Facts
- Our fifth subject in our listing of 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the highly distinctive crustacean known as the Yeti Crab.
- Rather understandably, this highly unusual crustacean bears the common name of Yeti Crab. However, its name often serves as a source of confusion for some. That’s because, while bearing the scientific name of Kiwa hirsuta, it also goes by the misleading common name of Yeti Lobster.
- First of all, researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute first discovered this astonishing animal in 2005. Secondly, the fascinating animal now ranks as one of the most unusual types of crustaceans known to man. But its appearance alone isn’t the only reason for this.
- That holds true due to the fact that it also has highly specific habitat requirements. This additional fact, therefore, makes it of great interest to many researchers. Additionally, the nature of this creature remains so unique that it spurred the creation of an entirely new Family.
- Lastly, but not surprisingly, the IUCN does not yet have a classification for this amazing animal. This occurs due to the lack of sufficient information to make a formal classification at this time. Hopefully, more specimens will be discovered in the near future, providing further data.
Yeti Crab Physical Description
Regardless of its rather remarkable appearance, the Yeti Crab remains somewhat smaller than some related species. That’s because mature individuals typically attain an overall body length of about 6 in (15 cm), with no discernible sexual dimorphism.
Furthermore, the most noticeable feature of the species, however, remains its thick covering of silky hair-like cetae. In fact, these features cover the great majority of its limbs. Researchers theorize the crustacean uses these to remove dangerous minerals from the water.
In addition, its eyes remain quite tiny, at least when compared to related species. These also develop entirely without any pigmentation. Many experts understandably believe the creature to be fully blind. Given the nature of its habitat, this seems a reasonable assumption.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Malacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Family: Kiwaidae
- Genus: Kiwa
- Species: K. hirsuta
Yeti Crab Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Quite unfortunately, the truly astounding Yeti Crab appears to only inhabit a highly specific and rather restricted habitat range. In fact, to date, the only known populations of this impressive animal occur along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, south of Easter Island.
In addition, even within this region, it exists only in a highly specific area. That’s because this species only appears at the extreme depth of about 7,200 ft (2,200 m). It therefore spends its life in the darkness of the depths. Further, all known individuals live either on or near hydrothermal vents.
Quite naturally, because of its location, researchers still know very little about many parts of its life cycle. However, experts believe it to feed primarily as a carnivore. But, it remains possible that this fabulous creature may also feed directly on bacteria native to its specific habitat.
Sea Spider Facts
- The next species listing in the collection of 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the amazing Sea Spider.
- Perhaps most notably, the term serves as the collective common name of a rather enormous order of marine arthropods. In point of fact, this incredible order includes more than 1,300 recognized species. Also, other species remain under consideration for entry into this order, as well.
- Furthermore, these amazing creatures appear to be extremely widespread. In fact, together, the various members of this order occur in virtually every ocean and sea around the world. This habitat range even includes many areas that most people consider inhospitable.
- However, despite the common name, these obviously do not represent true spiders, or even arachnids. But nevertheless, these remarkable arthropods actually do have more in common with true spiders than other arthropods. That fact alone makes them a remarkable type of creature.
- Furthermore, one particular variety of Sea Spider represents an especially unique case. This holds true even when considered alongside its fellow members of the order. That’s because this rather startling variety actually evolved over the ages into a fully hermaphroditic species.
Sea Spider Physical Description
Given the vast number of types of Sea Spider, physical characteristics quite naturally vary widely among the numerous different species. However, no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism presents itself among any of the known varieties.
For example, leg spans range from a minuscule 0.04 in (1 mm) to as much as 2.3 ft (70 cm). Most varieties possess eight legs, but a few species develop 10 or even 12 appendages. Yet in all known forms, the legs grow extremely long and thin in relation to the body.
One rather interesting fact stands out, however. That’s because, due to the extremely small size of the body, these remarkable arthropods possess no respiratory system. Instead, the creatures acquire oxygen through the process of diffusion.
Furthermore, base colors vary quite significantly between the various types. Not only that, but sheer physical appearance also differs widely between species. But, the characteristic trait of having a tiny body and comparatively long, thin legs remains a constant.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Pycnogonida
- Order: Pantopoda
Sea Spider Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, the truly fascinating members of the order collectively known as the Sea Spider possess a completely cosmopolitan distribution. In point of fact, the various species appear to exist in all oceans and seas throughout the world.
However, the majority of the various species do appear to live in several large concentrations, in specific regions. These population groupings occur relatively near the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, in North America.
Additionally, a great majority of species, and indeed individuals, prefer to inhabit relatively shallow regions. However, some species and individuals separate themselves from that pattern. These exceptions sometimes live as deep as 23,000 ft (7,000 m).
Furthermore, most species feed primarily as either active predators or passive scavengers. Also, the typical prey for most varieties varies, but consists mainly of sponges, cnidarians, polychaetes, and bryozoans, depending on location.
Finally, except for the one hermaphroditic species, reproduction involves external fertilization of eggs. Interestingly, after these have been laid, only the male cares for the eggs and young. This represents yet another way in which the Sea Spider remains a fascinating form of life.
Bobbit Worm Facts
- The seventh and final entry into this compendium of 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates is the infamous Bobbit Worm.
- Perhaps most notably, the term Bobbit Worm now serves as the colloquially- based common name for a truly incredible animal with a complex scientific name. That name is the Eunice aphroditois. In point of fact, its name derives from a rather notorious event that occurred in the United States, in North America, in the mid-1990’s.
- Furthermore, this worm also currently remains one of the most unique and disturbing predators found in any ocean. The fascinating, though somewhat disturbing, animal officially classifies as an aquatic predatory polychaete worm. It represents only one of more than 10,000 members of its class, however.
- In addition, this remarkable creature also remains extremely rare, and thus rarely encountered. Therefore, as a result, very little information appears certain about the biology of the species. One fact stands out, however. That’s the incredible speed it displays when attacking its prey. When it does, it strikes with such velocity that it often cuts its prey in half.
Bobbit Worm Physical Description
First of all, the astonishing Bobbit Worm represents an extremely large species of aquatic worm. Individuals typically attain an average length of roughly 39 in (1 m). But, individual specimens of the species occasionally grow to lengths of as much as 10 ft (3 m).
In addition, the species also displays rather bright colors, most commonly including shades of bright purple. Additionally, it displays a total of five comparatively long antennae. These features serve it quite well in the detection of prey, while it remains hidden.
This truly amazing animal also possesses a rather hard exoskeleton, covering the great majority of its body. Despite its relatively great length, its width rarely exceeds 1 in (2.5 cm). Therefore, the vast majority of individuals studied have a decidedly slim shape.
However, its best-known physical feature obviously remains its incredibly powerful mandibles. These extremely over-powered features the sea-dwelling terror uses with amazing efficiency. As a result of this ability, Nature saw no reason to equip it with any type of venom.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Annelida
- Class: Polychaeta
- Order: Einicida
- Family: Eunicidae
- Genus: Eunice
- Species: E. aphroditois
Bobbit Worm Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
It bears mentioning that the incredible Bobbit Worm appears to make its home in most tropical waters. However, it does have its preferred regions. As a result, the small but impressive creature appears to be most common in the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Furthermore, it also appears to prefer to inhabit the sand and gravel of the floor of the ocean. It will also inhabit various coral reefs on occasion. There, the predator buries itself in the sand, with only its antennae protruding, awaiting the arrival of its prey.
Though technically omnivorous, it nevertheless prefers to hunt its prey as an ambush predator. In this, it has the same habits as the Happy Face Spider and Spiny Bush Viper. Once it has its prey, it typically pulls it beneath the sand or into a burrow.
Finally, researchers currently possess no definite knowledge concerning the reproductive habits of the Bobbit Worm. Research into the animal understandably continues. But, studies have shown evidence indicates that the creature likely possesses a relatively long lifespan.
7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates
We hope that you have greatly enjoyed this article about 7 Bizarre Ocean Invertebrates. Creatures such as these serve to demonstrate the endless variety of life on this world. But countless other species deserve appreciation as well. We hope you continue to learn about other species and places around our world from our many other articles. But, sadly, some of these species, like many others, need our help. Ongoing events in the world around us threaten many of them with extinction. Let us do all that we can to protect and preserve them for our posterity.