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The Top 13 Critters To See Muck Diving

Soft-sediment sea beds may seem boring at first glance. But slow down and take a closer look, and you may spot one of these incredible critters

1 Bobbit worm

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A nocturnal, sand-dwelling, carnivorous worm that in its own little way is the stuff of nightmares.


2 Mantis shrimp

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There are 300 species of mantis shrimp and they all fashion elaborate burrows in rubble, sand or mud to provide protection from predators and to create an ambush point.


3 Moon-headed sidegill slug

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Only comes to the surface of its sand or mud habitat at night.

 

4 Bobtail squid

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The bobtail squid has disproportionately large eyes and use their ten arms to bury themselves beneath the sand and rubble by day and emerge to hunt at night.  


5 mimic octopus

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This garishly patterned cephalopod hunts in soft-sediment environs and takes refuge in any appealing abandoned hole or burrow it finds in the sand


6 Starry night octopus

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Very shy of any light, this species is bright crimson, covered in white spots, and can be found prowling the sediment plains in search of bivalves and crustaceans.


7 Stargazer

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Stargazers wriggle themselves into sediment soft enough to be displaced by their side to side rocking motion and shrugging twitches.

 

8 Ribbon eels

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Juveniles are coal-black in colour, adult males are cobalt blue with a yellow snout and lower jaw, and transparent yellow, flared nostrils; adult females are completely golden yellow.


9 Garden eels

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Garden eels live in colonies of up to a few hundred individuals, all inhabiting holes spaced in close proximity to each other.


10 Snake eels

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There are more than 300 species of snake eel, which vary in size from 10cm to 1m in length.


11 Sand divers

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When danger threatens, the sand divers will dive into the sand and disappear, with only their eyes and snout discernable among the bottom topography.


12 Convict fish

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It is extremely difficult to find the adult convict fish, but seeing its offspring is easy. Juvenile convict fish aggregate in vast clouds over soft-sediment habitats.

 

13 Jawfish

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They are workaholic diggers, shoveling mouthfuls of sand and rubble until they have created a vertical tunnel leading to a subterranean burrow.

For more about critters to spot while muck diving, see DIVE's October 2013 issue of Water Column.

 

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