Sometimes a sea creature comes along that’s so terrifying, we don’t know whether we want to eat it or run for the hills. And considering aquatic life keeps getting bigger as species evolve, things are just going to get crazier and crazier. So we’ve decided to document the most horrifically awesome animals to come out of earth’s waters. There’s one question that links them all: Can you eat it?!
Hide your kids, hide your wife, because these aquatic creatures are ridiculous.
Two Giant Female Leatherback Turtles in The Carolinas
Washed up on: Carolina beaches
Specs: One weighed 500lbs; the other weighed more than 700lbs.
Leatherbacks are endangered, uber-rare giant sea turtles. How rare? When this 500-pound creature washed up on the beach at the Yawkey-South Island Reserve, Metro reports that it was the first living leatherback turtle to ever be recovered in South Carolina, and that it’s one of only a handful ever treated at U.S. rehab facilities. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Jenna Cormany said of the rescue:
The turtle was named Yawkey, and it had eaten some plastic it mistook for a jellyfish. She’s currently in recovery and will be released back into the wild.
Unfortunately, the other leatherback that washed up on a Rodanthe beach didn’t fare so well. WITN reports that since North Carolina doesn’t have many marine centers that can care for an animal of that size, and since this animal was so sick, it was euthanized. This turtle also had a large amount of plastic in its stomach, and tests are currently being run at several marine centers to determine exactly what made this turtle so sick.
Pregnant, 800-Pound Freshwater Stingray in Thailand
Fished out of: Mae Klong River in Thailand
Specs: 8 feet wide, 14 feet long, estimated to weigh 800 pounds and pregnant with two fetal rays
This mama ray was caught via rod and reel, then tagged and released because the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists stingray as “critically endangered.” As for why we only have an estimate of its weight, National Geographic fellow Zeb Hogan told the Dodo that the scientists wanted to be gentle with her.
It turns out that this same ray was caught and released in 2009, when she was also pregnant. Scientists suspect that the area where she was caught is a nursery ground—which can only be a good sign for this endangered species.
Vampire Crabs Living In Your Aquariums
Fished out of: separate river valleys on the Indonesian island of Java
Specs: These tiny crabs have been sold as pets for 10 years, but were unexplored by science until now
Don’t worry, vampire crabs aren’t going to crawl out of their aquarium at night and suck your blood. It turns out they’re only called that because of their yellow eyes. Amazingly, National Geographic reports that the two most sought-after species are completely new to science.
Researchers conducted a study to trace these popular pets back to their points of origin. Study co-author and professional aquarist Christian Lukhaup told NatGeo:
The crab pictured above is Geosesarma dennerle, and it’s deep purple with a cream splotch across its back. Another vampire crab called G. hagen has a bright orange shell and claws, and was identified at the same time.
Christoph Schubart, another study co-author, believes there are several more vampire crab species to be discovered in Indonesia. The study team is concerned, because it believes each of these species is probably confined to a single watershed, making them vulnerable to wipeout via catastrophic events or overcollection by dealers looking to sell them as pets. Lukhaup is hoping that commercial breeding of these crabs will eliminate this potential danger.
But Schubart adds, “For the local collectors, it’s their living. They just catch what they can get and export it.”