Looking into the Abyss: 7 of the Most Alien-Looking Animals in the Mariana Trench

The trench’s unique environment has spawned some creepy looking animals.
Donovan Alexander

How much do you know about the Mariana Trench?

Thousands of brave men and women have trekked the perilous climb to Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, standing a whopping 8,848 meters. Nevertheless, less than a handful of people have descended to the planet’s deepest point, the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

What is the Mariana Trench?

Situated in the Western Pacific East of the Philippines and approximately 200 kilometers east of the Mariana Islands, the Mariana Trench is one of the planet’s deepest scars. The crescent-shaped gorge in the Earth’s crust measures more than 2,550 kilometers long and 69 kilometers wide on average.    

For the uninitiated, the Mariana Trench is part of a global network of deep troughs that cut across the ocean floor, forming when two tectonic plates collided. At the collision point, one of the plates dives beneath the other snuggly right into the Earth’s mantle, creating an ocean trench.

Looking into the Abyss: 7 of the Most Alien-Looking Animals in the Mariana Trench
Source: Wikipedia

So, now you must be wondering how deep is the Mariana Trench?

At its blackest and deepest depths, the massive trench averages 10,984 meters in depth or about 10.9 kilometers.

Let’s put it this way, if you inverted Mt. Everest and tossed it into the Mariana Trench, you would still have 2,134 meters to spare.

Looking into the Abyss

If you were to plunge into the Mariana Trench, you wouldn’t survive. At those depths, water pressure is 1,000 times greater than it is at the surface, crushing almost any creature or manmade object.

Within the abyss, you will find sea creatures that resemble something more alien than terrestrial.


Today, we are going to give you a peek at some of the creepiest and oddest sea creatures that have been found in the Mariana Trench. Though fascinating, the animals found in this trench are a strong reminder to us all, of how life can form even in some of the most intense and unexpected environments.

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Who knows, we might come across creatures similar to these in a trench on a neighboring planet.

Barreleye Fish

Speaking of aliens, this fish will definitely leave an impression on you. As mentioned above, there is no light in this part of the ocean and this lack of light is the culprit for the odd evolution occurring in the Mariana Trench.

In fact, a lot of the sea creatures have evolved odd features that allow them to use bits of light to their advantage. Discovered in 1939 when it was pulled from its habitat 762 meters below the surface, the fish has a transparent head.

Within its transparent head, you will see two sensitive barrel-shaped eyes which are constantly pointed upwards, allowing the fish to see the silhouettes of its prey. In fact, scientists believe this clear head gives the fish the ability to collect just a little more light to hunt fish.

Telescope Octopus

This octopus almost looks like something a 10-year-old would create. Drifting 1,981 meters within the trench, the telescope octopus earned its name from its protruding eyes. These unique set of eyes offer the octopus a wider peripheral vision so that the octopus can see predators and prey alike. The eyes can even rotate.

Zombie Worms

Also known as the osedax, these zombie fish loves snacking on the bones of fish as well as some of the dead bodies of the biggest animals in the world, like whales. Zombie worms secret acids to help it access the inner contents of those dead whale bones. The fish uses symbiotic bacteria to turn bones, proteins and fats into nutrients.

Dumbo Octopus

Named after the cute Disney Elephant, this octopus has adorable ears that sit atop of its 30-centimeter body. Sitting comfortably at 3,962 meters in the Mariana Trench, the animal floats around swallowing animals whole, while spotting animals with its massive eyes.

Seadevil Anglerfish

You have probably seen this fish at some point. The scary looking fish looks like something straight out of hell. The female fish are 20 centimeters long while the male ones are only 2.5 centimeters long.

One of the most interesting aspects of these fish is that to reproduce, the male fish fuses itself to the female, having their fins, teeth, and eyes disappear. 

 Deep-sea Hatchetfish

File:Messina Straits Argyropelecus hemigymnus.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The look of this odd fish is almost comical. There are 40 species of hatchetfish and they tend to have ridiculously skinny bodies paired with shiny scales and are only 15 centimeters long.

The Deep-sea hatchetfishes have bioluminescent bodies that can alter the brightness of their glow. These fish use the brightness to control their silhouettes to hide from predators while deep in the trench.

Frilled Sharks

This odd-looking shark has ancient roots that go back 80 million years. Growing 1.8 meters long, the alien looking shark has 20 rows of razor sharp, trident-shaped teeth, helping it make quick efficient bites of deep-sea prey. Living 1,219 meters deep, these shark’s love to snack on eels.

What is the oddest sea creature you have come across?

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