Heroes

13 bizarre creatures prove there's plenty we don't know about Earth.

The world is full of fascinating creatures, but there's so much left to learn.

13 bizarre creatures prove there's plenty we don't know about Earth.
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Earth Day

Did you know that more than 95% of Earth's oceans remain unexplored?

It's a pretty startling figure, but it's absolutely true. Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet's surface, and yet the overwhelming majority of them remain untouched and unseen by human eyes.


Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

There are two fairly massive challenges to exploring the depths of the ocean: pressure and light (or rather, the lack of light). At its deepest, the ocean goes 36,200 feet (6.85 miles) below the surface.

Thanks to ever-evolving technology, we're increasingly able to learn more about what kind of life is capable of existing so far away from the surface of the sea.

Mostly we've learned two things: There are some pretty weird creatures living in our oceans, and we aren't even close to having found them all.

Which is kind of incredible when you think about it.

Here are 13 bizarre deep sea creatures that prove just how much we have yet to discover about this planet:

1. Narrownose chimaera

Discovered in the late 19th century, the narrownose chimaera can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at depths between 1,245 and 8,530 feet. It's like a tiny swordfish but cuter.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

2. Goosefish

Weighing up to 50 pounds, goosefish typically grow to be between two and four feet long. The goosefish is known for its front and back "arms." Arms! Guys, a fish wish ARMS!

Arms!!! Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

3. Deepsea Skate

The deepsea skate is, as its name would suggest, a fish found in especially deep waters (duh, obviously). It's fairly rare, leaving a lot to mystery when it comes to how it lives — so let's just assume it spends its weekends working on its stamp collection or something. Because, hey, probably, right?

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

4. Tripod fish

Tripod fish live on the sea floor, "walking" on three fins. They're typically found at depths between 2,950 and 15,400 feet. I don't have it in me to break it to this guy that he's supposed to use fins to swim instead of walk, so I'll just sit back and let this dude waddle across the ocean floor and stuff.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

5. Redeye gaper

Growing to just under a foot in length, the redeye gaper is typically found at depths between 300 and 2,400 feet in the Atlantic Ocean along the New England region. It's adorable! And it looks like a bird and/or some sort of tiny pink dinosaur!


Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

6. Toadfish

"Toadfish" is actually the common name given to a wide range of fish species known for — YOU GUESSED IT — their toad-like appearance. In this case, we have a deep sea toadfish, a member of the predator batrachoididae family. This dude doesn't seem like the type of guy you want to mess with.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

7. Venus flytrap anemone

Named after its similarity in appearance and action to the venus flytrap, the venus flytrap anemone is a deep sea anemone ranging in size from just a few inches tall up to around a foot high. It lives between 1,500 and 5,000 feet deep in the ocean. Sadly, though, it doesn't actually trap flies.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

8. Spotted turbot

Found off the California coast, the spotted turbot, which looks like some sort of sparkly talisman you'd have to collect in a video game and trade for 30 silver coins or something, is found between the surface and 320 feet deep. Occasionally caught in shrimp hauls, the spotted turbot doesn't have much value to fishermen and is usually released.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

9. Catshark

The catshark is a family of sharks that get their name from the cat-like eyes. Known for having a short, narrow body, these sharks live in warmer waters. Disappointingly, it does not meow, won't lay across your keyboard, and is probably pretty indifferent to cardboard boxes.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

10. Pyrosome

Pyrosomes are actually made up of a collection of individuals that move through the ocean in unison. They can grow to be up to 60 feet long and are sometimes referred to as "unicorns of the sea," though if you ask me, it kind of looks like it's just the horn without the horse.


Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

11. Ctenophore

Also known as "comb jellies" (as they are a type of jelly fish), ctenophora use sticky cells called colloblasts (seen extended here on the ctenophore's extended tentacles) to capture prey. It's pretty, but kind of a (total) jerk.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

12. Dandelion siphonophore

The dandelion siphonophore, also known as the ocean dandelion, has been described as "an ant colony on steroids." Little is known about how it reproduces or feeds, but the ocean dandelion is actually hundreds of animals working together towards a common goal: survival.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

13. Blackbelly rosefish

Also known as the bluemouth rockfish (c'mon, guys — pick one, blue mouth or a black belly), this is what's called a "sit-and-wait" predator — which immediately makes me wish I'd have Photoshopped in a small knife or something into the picture.

Image by NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.

Knowing how many creatures we still don't know live in the depths of the oceans only helps us appreciate some of the stranger creatures we have come across.

After all, if this is what we've found in the less than 5% we've explored, what more is out there?

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less