Forget all those celebrities – if you’re only going to follow one social media account, then make sure it's an obscure Russian fisherman called Roman Fedortsov.
Roman’s Twitter and Instagram pages are regularly updated with bizarre deep-sea creatures he stumbles across. Many of these deep-sea creatures are barely understood by science; however, Roman manages to get unprecedented access to this marine life through his work as a trawlerman near Murmansk, a port city on the coast of the Barents Sea in the most northwesterly region of Russia.
Among the countless creatures he’s encountered, he has documented bearded sea devils, ghost sharks, one-eyed fish, and all manner of truly peculiar crustaceans (images below). In most instances, it’s hard to work out whether these animals are oddly beautiful or downright ugly.
“No need to invent ‘Monsters.’ Nature has already done it,” Roman wrote once.
These deep-sea delights look alien to us because they have adapted to live in conditions that are drastically different to land-based life or shallow-water species. These creatures live in pitch-black conditions most of the time. Normally, only a small amount of sunlight penetrates beyond 200 meters (656 feet). By 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), there is no light at all. There’s also an ocean-load of pressure when you have thousands of meters of water crushing down on you.
It's notable that a lot of the fish are black or red. That's because black won't reflect the minimal light and they can remain invisible to predators. Similarly, red wavelengths of light don't penetrate to the deep sea, so fish with red skin do not reflect any light either.
It’s also worth remembering that many of these fish are probably not so bizarre-looking when they are in their natural environment. Most of these fish will have a swim bladder that is specially adapted to these intense depths. When they are suddenly brought to the water's surface, where there’s considerably lower pressure, this sac of gas can blow up and cause the creature’s body to distend and their eyes to pop out. This is actually what happens to the widely known, yet gravely misunderstood, blobfish (aka the world's ugliest animal).