You might need a costume to take your spooky vibe to the next level, but the deep sea is always prepared for Halloween. We've rounded up some of our favourite creepy clips and crazy creatures to kick off the holiday! 

Pumpkin Starfish

For the PSL lover who has everything...

Image: Pat and Lori Colin, courtesy of the Echinoblog

We've seen some strange sea stars in our day, but the great pumpkin starfish (Astrosarkus idipi) might be the most festive. Described in 2004 by The Echinoblog's Dr Christopher Mah, this vibrant starfish inhabits the South Pacific and Indian oceans. The star's skeleton is extremely reduced: most of its body is made up of what Mah describes as "thick, smooth meat". To spot a pumpkin starfish in the wild, you'd have to dive deep (67-200m), so this critter is rarely encountered by humans. To this day, very few specimens exist on record. Find out more and check out a live video over on the Echinoblog!

Forest of the weird 

Like something straight off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, this peculiar garden of glass sponges certainly deserves its nickname. The "Forest of the Weird" was spotted recently by the NOAA rover "Deep Discover" near the Johnston Atoll within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Unlike their squishier kin, glass sponges possess structural scaffolding (formally known as "spicules") made of silica. The needle-like structures hold up well under extreme pressure and protect the animals from predators. There are currently some 500 species of glass sponges, and while some members of the group (class Hexactinellida) inhabit the shallows, over half reside below 2,000 metres. Deep-dwelling habits aside, these invertebrates can also live extremely long lives: one specimen collected from eastern China was thought to be around 10,000 years old!


Meet "Dudley", the most nightmare-inducing sight in the deep sea! The humanoid found his way to Canada's Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents site with scientists from the University of Washington, who placed him there as a site marker during early exploration efforts. Things went awry for poor Dudley when, over time, he drifted into the scalding plumes erupting from the site's "black smokers". The chemicals gushing from these underwater chimneys make the surrounding water highly toxic, but Endeavour is no barren wasteland. Tube worms, spider crabs, microbes and even some sharks spend time near hydrothermal vents. 

How did Dudley get his name? Find out in our previous coverage here.

Creepy cephalopod

Magnapinna squid are a "team alien" favourite – and it's easy to see why. But these crazy cephalopods are very real. Also known as big-fin squid, they've been documented sporadically since the early 1900s. However, thanks to their elusive nature and inaccessible ocean-floor habitat, unravelling the details of the animals' ecology is near impossible. Scientists first managed to film a big-fin squid in 1988, and very little is known about them to this day.

This particular Magnapinna made a cameo on Shell oil-rig cameras in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2007. The sighting took place at 2,386 meters, but it's thought these lengthy invertebrates can sink even deeper. 

h/t Deep Sea News

ghosts of the sea, times three

The bloodbelly comb jelly is an Earth Touch favourite. The animal's crimson colouration keeps it camouflaged in the deep sea, where red light does not penetrate. Those rainbow flashes you see in the video are produced by light-diffracting hair-like structures called "cilia".

Although they resemble true jellyfish, these underwater apparitions are actually comb jellies, a group (phylum Ctenophorathat is only distantly related.

In the video below, the comb jellies' impressive "disappearing act" is actually an illusion, caused by the light beams of the manned submersible JAGO. The footage was captured during a 2015 dive near Crimea. As the comb jellies move through JAGO's path, their illuminated, translucent bodies drift in and out of view:

And who could forget Stygiomedusa gigantea, an animal informally known as the "guardian of the underworld". Like the big-fin squid (and most other deep-sea giants) this jelly is seldom seen, despite being one of the largest invertebrate predators on earth. How big is big? Those dangling "tentacles" you see are called oral arms (they're used for feeding, not stinging) and can reach ten metres in length!

Davey Jones's throne

We're rounding off with the scariest thing on the seabed: our trash.

Image: MBARI/YouTube

This ghostly chair is just one example of the litter found by the team at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute during a 2003 survey. From beer cans to cardboard to countless bits of plastic, the images collected as part of the survey are a stark reminder of our impact on the world's wild spaces – even those that seem far out of humans' reach.