The Mariana Trench is probably the most massive natural formation on Earth, and it’s one that no human can see unaided because of how deep and dark it is. This gigantic craggy abyss in the Pacific Ocean extends downwards for about 9 miles, and is roughly 150 miles long. After traveling downwards into the Mariana Trench, the scant amount of sunlight near the top disappears entirely at a little over half a mile. Temperatures hover right around freezing. It seems impossible that any life — animal, plant, or even microbial — could live or flourish here, and yet the Mariana Trench is home to a large variety of rare and unusual wildlife.
Large single-celled lifeforms, called xenophyophores, live in abundance 6 and a half miles down. These organisms are about 4 inches long (one of the largest single-celled creatures we know about) and eat the decaying remains of animals and plants. They also absorb metals, like lead and uranium, and are hosts to smaller bacteria and organisms.
Also in the Mariana Trench lives the Goblin Shark. These sharks have only been observed a handful of time by humans. They sense their prey using eletro-perception and smell and need to wait until they are close to their prey before attacking, as these sharks are fairly slow. Something unusual about these sharks is that they have joints in their jaws which allow them to actually move their mouth forward without having to move their whole body.
Osedax, or, commonly, zombie worms, also make the Mariana Trench their home. These worms have no mouths and so secrete acid onto the bones of dead animals, which causes them to dissolve and become edible to the zombie worms. But these worms aren’t the only residents with names that remind you of the occult. Vampire squid can be found in the Trench. These squid are red in color, use ear flaps to move around, and actually share similarities with both squids and octopi. This squid likely got its name from the fact that they can survive in a lightless environment and do not require much oxygen to live. Of all the cephalopods (squids and octopi) who live in the deep sea, the vampire squid is the most efficient at metabolizing oxygen.
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