Nature is full of gorgeous animals. These animals‘ cute appearances have put them in grave danger of being extinct. Thanks to the kind hearts of humans, some of these species are now recovering from extinction.
It is proven that big, cute animals attract 500 times more conversation cash than ugly endangered animals do. But in reality, all these animals, cute or ugly, are all important to maintaining the Earth’s biodiversity. Who knows? These animals’ DNA could be needed to make antibiotics or cure patients in the future!
These animals may not win any beauty contests soon, but the weird wonders of the world are certainly far more interesting than any adorable, little creatures. Listed here are of the Earth’s rarest, most bizarre marine animals. Take a look and take action!
Axolotls are gilled amphibians that represent unmetamorphosed larvae of the Mexican salamander. It is found only in Lake Xochimilco, near the Mexico City. Unlike other amphibians, axolotls spend their entire life in the lake.
Axolotls can reach sizes of up to 12 inches in length. They are black, mottled brown or white in color. Sometimes, they have no color at all and are called albinos. Axolotls have no eyelids, external gills, and a caudal fin behind their heads.
An axolotl’s diet consists of small aquatic creatures such as worms, insects, crustaceans, and small fishes. They locate food by scent and will suck any potential prey into their stomachs with vacuum force.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Axolotls have the ability to regenerate limbs that are damaged or lost in battles. These include missing limbs, kidneys, lungs, heart, and even parts of their brains! [/junkie-alert]
Dugongs are marine mammals that can be seen in the warm coastal waters of East Africa, the Red Sea, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines.
Dugongs can grow up to 11 feet in length; and can weigh up to 2000 pounds. Dugongs look like manatees, but they have flat tails and flippers like a whale. Dugongs can stay underwater for six minutes before surfacing. In shallow waters, they sometimes <stand, on their tail with their heads above water to breathe.
Dugongs are true vegetarians. They have large mouths with specially designed upper lips that help them to chew sea grass. Dugongs eat up to 88 pounds of sea grass daily.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Because of their large body size, weird appearance, and awkward movements in the water, dugongs are commonly known as “Sea Cows”. [/junkie-alert]
03. Chinese Giant Salamander
Chinese giant salamanders are the largest salamanders in the world. It is found in rocky, mountain streams in China. Some subspecies are found in Taiwan.
Chinese giant salamanders can reach up to 6 feet in length. They are fully aquatic, but lack gills. Instead, they absorb oxygen through their wrinkled, porous skin (skin with many holes which air or liquid can pass through).
These giant salamanders feed on insects, frogs, crabs, shrimp, and fish. They have very poor eyesight and therefore, rely on special sensory nodes that run in lines on their bodies to their heads. These nodes detect vibrations in the water, helping the salamanders to catch prey and navigate through the streams.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Facts: These Chinese giant salamanders produce sounds like a baby’s cry. Therefore, it is commonly called the “baby fish”. [/junkie-alert]
04. Crinoid Snapping Shrimp
Crinoid snapping shrimps are crustaceans. They also go by two other names – The pistol Shrimp or the Alpheid Shrimp. They are the smallest snapping shrimp and the only species that is endangered.
Crinoid snapping shrimps grow only 2 to 7 centimeters long. One of their pincers are greatly enlarged. This particular pincer can be as long as the whole shrimp itself! It produces a very loud sound when it snaps open and shut. These snapping shrimps use their ability to make loud noises to scare off predators and to startle prey.
These species of shrimp live in pairs on feather stars (crinoids). Feather stars are a type of animal that live near reefs. The snapping shrimps feed off the mucus of its host.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: It is not the snapping of the Crinoid Snapping Shrimp s pincer that produces the sound. When the pincer snaps rapidly, it creates jets of bubbles. These bubbles collapse quickly, releasing an extremely loud sound as well as a flash of light for a brief moment. [/junkie-alert]
05. Whale Shark
Whale sharks are the largest fish species on Earth. They are slow-moving, filter-feeding sharks. Whale sharks live mainly in open seas and tropical, warm oceans.
Whale sharks can reach lengths of up to 14 meters and can weigh up to 12 tons. These beautiful deep sea creatures have pale yellow or white stripes and dots arranged in a checked pattern all over their grey bodies. They swim slowly by moving their bodies from side to side, unlike other sharks who use their tails to swim.
These endangered animals sieve plankton through their gills. They also sieve squid, krill, and small fish. They have a really big mouth that can open up to 1.5 meters wide and 10 filter pads to aid in the sieving process.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Despite the fact that they consume plankton, whale sharks are actually not related to whales at all! They have 3000 tiny teeth! But these teeth are of little use. They behave more like sharks than whales. [/junkie-alert]
Sawfish are euryhaline (able to move between freshwater and seawater) and are related to sharks and rays. They are found across tropical and warm ocean waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific Ocean. They are also seen in shallow waters and may even swim up rivers.
Sawfish can grow up to over 20 feet in length. They have long snouts with flat blades that have 20 teeth on each side. These snouts are used to catch prey, detect predators, and to detect electrical fields in the waters.
Sawfish eat fish and crustaceans. Most of their prey are found using the ability to detect movements. This ability comes from their saws. Prey is killed by slashing their saws back and forth. The saw is also used to tear apart prey on the ocean bottom.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The teeth on a sawfish’s snout are not true teeth! They are just modified scales. The sawfish’s true teeth are in its mouth, which is located on the fish s underside. [/junkie-alert]
The vaquita is a rare species of porpoise only found in the northern part of the Gulf of California. It is also the smallest species of cetaceans (whale, dolphin, or porpoise) in the world! Vaquitas are rarely seen in the wild as they hardly surface for air.
The vaquita has a grey body with a pale gray or white underbelly. It also has a noticeable dark patch around its eyes and black lips. It can reach lengths of 4.6 to 5 feet and weights of up to 120 pounds. Female vaquitas are much bigger than the males.
Vaquitas are carnivores. Their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, and squids. Since vaquitas live in murky waters, they cannot rely on eyesight to hunt. Instead, they use echolocation. They produce high-pitched clicks which are bounced off walls and prey in front of them. Echolocation is also used for communicating and navigating.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Facts: Ever since the extinction of the baiji (freshwater dolphin only found in the Yangtze River, China), the vaquita has taken on the title of the most endangered cetacean in the world. [/junkie-alert]
08. Ganges Shark
The Ganges shark is a critically endangered species of requiem sharks (sharks that give birth to young, migrate, and live in warmer bodies of water) found in the Ganges River and the Brahmaputra River of India.
The size of a full grown Ganges shark is about 178 centimeters. Its colors range from grey to brown with no noticeable patterns or markings. The Ganges shark is stocky with a broadly-rounded snout and has small eyes. It has two spineless dorsal fins.
The small eyes and sharp teeth of the Ganges sharks suggests that they are fish-eaters that have adapted to hunting in the murky waters of rivers and estuaries. Although, most of this fish’s feeding habits are unknown.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The Ganges Shark is often confused with the Bull shark, which inhabits the same river. Not much is known about this mysterious fish. With only two surviving specimens collected from the Ganges River, research may take quite a while. [/junkie-alert]
09. Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle
The Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle is also known as the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle. It is an endangered species of freshwater turtle. This turtle is found in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Singapore, and other Southeastern countries. It primarily lives in slow-moving streams and freshwater rivers.
The Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle can reach lengths of up to 2 meters in maximum. It has a broad head with small eyes near the tip of its snout. Adult softshell turtles have a smooth, olive-colored upper shell; while juveniles have dark-spotted upper shells. These turtles have sharp scales on the underside of their forelimbs.
Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtles spend 95% of their lives buried and motionless underwater, with only their eyes and mouth above water. These turtles are carnivores, feeding on crustaceans, fish, and mollusks (shellfish, slugs, and octopuses). Occasionally, they eat aquatic plants.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle was named after Theodore Edward Cantor (1809 – 1860). Theodore was a Danish physician, zoologist, and botanist who first discovered the turtle. [/junkie-alert]
The blobfish is a deep sea fish found in the deep waters off the coasts of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. This ugly creature lives at depths between 600 and 1,200 meters where the water pressure is very high. Therefore, this fish is rarely sighted.
Blobfish are 10 inches to a foot long. They have no muscles at all! It looks like a flesh-colored “blob”. Blobfish are made out of materials that are just a bit lighter than water, which allows them to hover close to the sea bed.
These fish practically do not hunt. Instead, they hover in place and open their mouths to suck in tiny particles that drift by. Sometimes, maybe even deep-sea crustaceans. Blobfish stay still for most of their lives, with no need to move around for food. Sometimes, blobfish may even die because of the lack of food!
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Blobfish bear a mysterious resemblance to a human face; with eyes, lips, and an odd nose. [/junkie-alert]
Hagfish are also known as slime eels, though they are not eels. They are, instead, fish without jaws. Hagfish are found in cold waters around the world. They can live in waters as deep as 5,600 feet. They prefer to stay near the soft seabed, where they can bury themselves when threatened.
Hagfish can range from lengths of several inches long to more than 4 feet. The skin of the hagfish covers the fish like a loose sock. Colors range from pink to bluish-gray. Hagfish have four hearts and breathe through their skin and nose.
Hagfish are jawless and boneless. They eat up dead and dying creatures on the seafloor. They are infamous for their method of eating. Hagfish bury themselves face first in the carcass and eat their meal from the inside out. This disgusting method of eating is actually crucial to clean up the seabed.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Hagfish often tie themselves in knots to wring out their own slime and to prevent themselves from choking on the slime. This results in them “sneezing” out the slime from their nostrils. [/junkie-alert]
12. Titicaca Water Frog
The Titicaca Water Frog is a very large and endangered species of frog. It is entirely aquatic, which means that it never come on land. It is only found in Lake Titicaca and rivers that flow into this lake.
The Titicaca Water Frog is easily recognized by its excessive amount of skin. This is part of an adaptation that it has for living underwater. It never needs to surface for air. This frog has a dark green or black colored back.
The Titicaca Water Frog eats aquatic animals including tadpoles, mollusks, fish, worms, snails, and crustaceans. The tongue of the frog is short and unforked, adapted to stretch though not long enough to assist in prey capturing.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The Titicaca Water Frog loves to hang around in shallow lake waters where it performs specific motions to help water pass through its skin folds. What an intelligent creature! [/junkie-alert]
13. Irrawaddy Dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin can be found swimming in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, Southeast Asia, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Although these dolphins look like belugas they are more closely related to orcas.
Irrawaddy dolphins can grow from 70 inches to 108 inches long and can weigh up to 350 pounds! These dolphins have a large, round head and doesn’t have a beak at all! They are dark gray or dark blue in color with a lighter gray underbelly. The Irrawaddy dolphin also features a small, triangular dorsal fin.
There are plenty of food that this dolphin feeds on. This includes fish, crustaceans, octopus, and squids. Irrawaddy dolphins have been seen spitting water while feeding. This behavior is said to help confuse fish and prey, making them easier to catch. Like other dolphins, this dolphin also uses echolocation to navigate and to assist in hunting prey.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: Although sometimes called the Irrawaddy River Dolphin, it is not a true dolphin. Instead, the Irrawaddy dolphin is an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish waters near the coasts, river mouths, and in estuaries. [/junkie-alert]
14. Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Scalloped hammerhead sharks are found in the Gulf of California. They like to hang around underwater mountains also known as seamounts. They are also found in coastal regions and very shallow waters such as estuaries and inlets.
The scalloped hammerhead shark belongs to the large hammerhead shark family. These kinds of sharks are characterized by its hammer-shaped head. Another characteristic is the free-end tip of the second dorsal fin near the tail. This shark is about 4 meters long. It is mainly olive, bronze, or light brown in color with a white belly.
The scalloped hammerhead shark feeds on mostly fish such as sardines, mackerel, and herring. Occasionally, they will eat invertebrates such as octopuses. Larger scalloped hammerhead sharks will also eat up other smaller-sized sharks.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The scalloped hammerhead shark, along with all other species of sharks, have a special sense of feeling that uses electro receptors. This allows the shark to pick up very small electrical pulses that all living things emit. They can sense a human’s heartbeat from miles away! [/junkie-alert]
The coelacanth is pronounced as “seel- uh-kanth”. It is an enormous, bottom-dwelling fish that is found in the east coast of Africa and in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia.
This dinosaur-like fish can grow up to 6-foot-long and can weigh up to 600 pounds! One striking feature of this ancient fish is its four fleshy fins which extend from its body like limbs. These fins are hollow-spined, which is also where the fish got its name from. The body of the fish is covered in cosmoid scales which act as an armor.
This fish includes a unique joint in its skull which allows the fish to widen its mouth to consume larger prey. The coelacanth mainly eat cardinal fish, lantern fish, cuttle fish, and other small organisms as well as larger fish.
[junkie-alert style=”green”] Fun Fact: The coelacanth has a rostral organ in its snout which functions as a receptor for electromagnetic fields in the water. This is thought to help the fish to hunt. Not much is known about this endangered, ancient creature. Even till today, this fish remains a mystery for all scientists. [/junkie-alert]
All endangered wildlife deserves to be protected. They may not be cute and cuddly like polar bears or pandas, but they are still living creatures. If we do not take action now, they may disappear from the world forever.
We should protect wildlife because they inspire us. Most conservation efforts are focused on tigers, rhinoceroses, orangutans, and other animals. But why not these weird ones? They can’t help being strange.
We shouldn’t judge which animal to protect based on their looks. We can’t save all the endangered animals all at once, but if we put in enough effort, we might just succeed. These weirdly wonderful marine animals should be conserved for future generations. Each and every one of these animals are part of the beauty of nature.