Yeti Crab

Its fuzzy, winter-white coat might look at home in the Himalaya, but the yeti crab was discovered skittering around hydrothermal vents about a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) under the South Pacific off Easter Island.

The 6-inch (15-centimeter), blind crustacean—officially Kiwa hirsuta—is among the more than 6,000 new species discovered during the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year effort to document all sea life.







Sea Angel

Census of Marine Life expedition to the Arctic Ocean captured a so-called sea angel, Clione limacina, at about 1,148 feet (350 meters) underwater. Despite its nickname, this little angel apparently doesn’t mind showing a little skin: It’s actually a naked snail without a shell.

Such marine snails—most of them the size of a lentil—are widely eaten by many species, making them the “potato chip” of the oceans (they are found living in both poles).


Squid? Worm? Initially, this new species—with bristle-based “paddles” for swimming and tentacles on its head—so perplexed Census of Marine Life researchers that they threw in the towel and simply called it squidworm.

Found via remotely operated vehicle about 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers) under the Celebes Sea, the four-inch-long (ten-centimeter-long) creature turned out to the first member of a new family in the Polychaeta class of segmented worms.

Blue Christmas

At the slightest touch, these “Christmas trees” temporarily disappear down a hole faster than you can say “Grinch.” It’s a defense mechanism of the Christmas tree worm, most of which resides in a tunnel it carves into live coral.

Photographed off Australia’s Lizard Island by a Census of Marine Life expedition, the two blue trees are actually a single worm’s “crowns”—each spiral is a series of tentacles used in breathing and in passive feeding on tiny, floating foodstuffs.

Mr. Blobby

Affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Blobby,” this fathead sculpin fish was discovered in New Zealand during a Census of Marine Life expedition, according to the Australian Museum in Sydney.

Fathead sculpins—named for their large, globe-like heads and floppy skin—live in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans at depths of between about 330 feet (100 meters) and 9,200 feet (2,800 meters).

Now preserved in 70 percent ethyl alcohol at the Australian Museum, Mr. Blobby’s nose has shrunk—”and he no longer retains his ‘cute’ look,” according to the museum’s website.

Dumbo of the Deep


A deep-sea “Dumbo octopus” (pictured) may look like it’s all ears—but the protrusions are actually fins that help propel the animal through the darkness a mile (1.6 kilometers) under the sea.

Netted during a Census of Marine Life expedition to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, this Dumbo is among the thousands of census-documented creatures that live without ever knowing sunlight.

Reaching six feet (two meters) in length and weighing 13 pounds (6 kilograms), the jumbo Dumbo species is the largest of the octopus-like creatures of the mollusk genus Grimpoteuthis.

“Terrible” Lobster

This blind lobster, discovered during a Census of Marine Life expedition, belongs to a rare genus—Thaumastochelopsis—of which there were previously only four known specimens of two Australian species.

The lobster was given the scientific name Dinochelus ausubeli, which is derived from the Greek dinos, meaning terrible and fearful; chela, meaning claw; and ausubeli, in honor of Jesse Ausubel, a co-founder of the Census of Marine Life.

The lobster likely uses its exaggerated claw, or cheliped, to defend against other crustaceans.

Collective Jellyfish Cousin


This pink siphonophore, Athorybia rosacea, was found during a Census of Marine Life expedition in the Sargasso Sea in the eastern Atlantic.

Like the Portuguese man-of-war, the new creature is actually a colonial organism, made up of many animals.


Beautiful but Deadly

“Stunningly beautiful but deadly,” the Gulf of Mexico’s Venus flytrap anemone acts much like its terrestrial namesake, stinging its prey with an array of tentacles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The species’ native Gulf—along with the Mediterranean Sea, Chinese waters, the Baltic Sea, and the Caribbean Sea—are the ocean regions most under threat from human activities, according to Census of Marine Life scientists.

For instance, nutrients in sewage and fertilizer washed from the land are degrading these marine habitats by creating oxygen-free “dead zones,” the report says.

What’s more, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may worsen these dead zones, as well as wield untold damage to the animals at the bottom of the food chain.

Fiery Colony

This new physonect siphonophore is a colonial animal, made up of many repeated units—such as the nectophores, or swimming bells, on the right half above, which provide propulsion for the colony.

Many specimens of Marrus orthocanna were observed between 980 feet (300 meters) and 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) deep during a Census of Marine Life expedition.

Reaching 10 feet (3.1 meters) in length, some siphonophores are among the largest animals in the deep sea, experts say.

Baby Slipper Lobster

This baby slipper lobster, found during a Census of Marine Life expedition, is completely transparent, though as the creature grows, a thick shell will cover it.

The lobster’s bizarre eyes may confuse predators while it floats among plankton, or tiny animals

Poisonous Sea Slug


The poisonous sea slug Phyllidia ocellata, which lives on coral reefs, was found during a Census of Marine Life expedition. Its vibrant coloration warns predators that this slug is off the menu.

“First, dwindling expertise in taxonomy impairs society’s ability to discover and describe new species. And secondly, marine species have suffered major declines—in some cases 90 percent losses—due to human activities and may be heading for extinction, as happened to many species on land.”