13 Deep Sea Creatures to Inspire a Love of Learning in Your Kids
We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn affiliate commission.
Is there anything kids love more than learning about more than strange and mysterious critters? You don’t have to look to fantasy novels to find them, either. The world’s oceans are a treasure trove of deep sea creatures that will make your little one yearn to hop online and discover more.
What should you whisper in your little one’s ear to inspire their curiosity and make them excited about your summer trip to the aquarium? Here are 13 deep sea creatures to inspire a love of learning in your kids.
1. Giant Squid
Architeuthis Dux, or the giant squid, is a deep sea creature that doesn’t only fascinate little ones. Adults have wondered at this marvelous creature since humankind’s earliest seafaring days when tales of monsters circulated, alternatively fascinating the public and casting doubt about fish tales. This critter has also played a starring role in several novels, including:
- “Kraken” by China Mieville
- “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne
- “Beast” by Peter Benchley
Although eyewitness accounts put the largest giant squid at a whopping length of nearly 60 feet, the longest ever recorded is 43 feet — roughly 13 meters. That’s still a heck of a lot of tentacles, but fortunately, these creatures stick to the depths and don’t venture near shore to terrify Atlantic City tourists.
2. Vampire Squid
What’s worse than a giant squid? How about one named after a creature of the night? Even the scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, sounds downright terrifying.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about bloodsucking tentacles coming up from the depths to drain you dry at your next shore visit. The name for these fascinating creatures comes from their deep black, nearly purple webbed arms that create a cape-like appearance, paired with pale, giant blue eyes that make an otherworldly spectacle when viewed underwater.
If there was a contest for the world’s ugliest critter, the blobfish may go home with the gold. This interesting-looking creature looks like something your 3-year-old might hook out of their nose during allergy season, only super-sized. These creatures get slightly larger than your average housecat, although they have fins instead of fur.
These ugly little creatures aren’t good for eating, which is good. They’re critically endangered, inhabiting muddy continental slopes and seabeds. They get so deep they lack swim bladders like many other fish, as the depths would crush them.
No, a nudibranch isn’t some strange religious sect where members run around with no clothes. Although the name “sea slug” doesn’t inspire much admiration, these aren’t the slimy gray critters you’ll see on land. Conversely, they’re among the most colorful creatures in the seas, coming in a rainbow array of colors.
Fortunately, these solitary animals are hermaphrodites, meaning they’re able to change genders. Although they don’t socialize often, they’re able to reproduce with any other nudibranch they encounter, keeping their population going.
5. Deep-Sea Anglerfish
Can you go fishing under the sea? You can if you’re a deep-sea anglerfish. These critters are so well acclimated to the blackest depths, they’ve developed quite the rod and reel. A special appendage on their heads ends in a ball of light that attracts their unsuspecting prey. Once the unlucky victim crosses too close to the angler fish’s mouth, this fisher king enjoys a hearty meal.
6. Yeti Crab
You might not think of the words “pretty” and “crab” in the same sentence — until you meet the yeti crab. This fascinating deep sea creature looks like it’s wearing an elegant fur stole around the arms ending in its claws.
The blonde “hair” hair isn’t merely for show or attracting a mate, however. It’s a crucial part of this creature’s digestive system. It feeds on bacteria, and the many fibers are called setae that enable them to harvest their meal.
7. Goblin Shark
Sharks are scary enough in their own right. They don’t need any more negative publicity, but the name “goblin” makes them sound spookier than ever.
Although this deep water shark looks terrifying with its protruding horn and rows of sharp teeth, your kids shouldn’t worry before swimming. There has never been a recorded case of a fatal goblin shark attack against humans. Maybe this deep sea creature provides a valuable lesson in not stereotyping living things by name alone.
8. Blue Glaucus
This gorgeous nudibranch is on the endangered species list, as ocean pollution poses a threat to their habitats nearly everywhere in the world. What makes them so deadly? They feed on Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish and reuse the venomous spines against other prey.
These creatures are rare, but keep a safe distance if you’re lucky enough to spot one. They can deliver multiple stings in a short period that can prove fatal, especially among the very young, old or medically vulnerable.
9. Japanese Spider Crab
When the producers of “War of the Worlds” looked for giant alien striders, they could look to the Japanese spider crab for inspiration. These deep sea creatures have legs and know how to use them.
Their legs can span 12.5 feet in length, making them taller than two average-sized humans put together. They’re also considered a delicacy, but they’re tough to catch, living deep on the ocean floor. Still, such a massive leg promises a lot more meat for your cracking fun.
10. Sea Pigs
Sea pigs aren’t related to their landlubber kin, but they resemble them in several ways. However, they’re considerably smaller at only a few inches in size.
Sea pigs only resemble pigs from the top, where they look like the land animal. They don’t have legs but tube feet that surround their mouths, helping them scan the ocean floor in search of food.
11. Atlantic Wolffish
Here’s another fish that sounds scarier than it is. The wolffish might get its name from its rows of sharp teeth, but it isn’t known to attack humans. Instead, they use their powerful jaws against crustaceans like lobsters and crabs.
They also taste like their diet. This mild fish is reminiscent of steamed lobster with a flaky texture similar to cod. Although it rarely appears on menus, it’s a delicious occasional indulgence.
12. Dumbo Octopus
If a Pokemon came to life, it might take the form of a dumbo octopus. This fascinating deep sea creature dwells at depths below what other cephalopods explore. Its lack of predators in the mysterious darkness means it lacks an ink bladder like most octopi.
These critters have a semi-translucent body. That’s good because these cute creatures would no doubt be in high demand as pets if they were furry.
13. Giant Isopods
Giant isopods will give your little ones nightmares if they Google pictures of this deep sea creature. They get the nickname “sea cockroach” for a good reason, although they are crustaceans, not insects. You can even eat them like their lobster and crab kin, with the taste falling somewhere in between the two meats with a chewy texture.
These creatures can grow to a length of over 16 inches. They dwell in the depths, which may explain their lack of popularity on restaurant menus, although people in Taiwan often eat them over rice.
Deep Sea Creatures Your Kids Will Love to Learn About
How can you inspire a love of learning in your kids? Nearly every child loves to learn about fascinating critters.
Get your under-18 crew excited for their next aquarium trip by introducing them to these fascinating deep sea creatures kids love. They’ll learn more about the world we share and gain valuable skills as they research. 13 Deep Sea Creatures to Inspire a Love of Learning in Your Kids
Like what you read? Join other Environment.co readers!
Get the latest updates on our planet by subscribing to the Environment.co newsletter!
About the author
Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.