Words by Daphane Ng
Illustrations by Tegan Iversen
The ocean makes up seventy percent of the planet’s surface, yet we know so little about it. Scientists suggest that we have only explored approximately five percent of it, but in that five percent we’ve already found these five whacky deep-sea creatures . So behold, as I introduce you to:
Found off the coast of Australia, the Blobfish is precisely what the name suggests —a blob. It doesn’t really have a skeleton, nor any muscle. Its gelatinous body is an adaptation to the (literally) high-pressure environment it lives in. It can be found in waters with pressure up to 120 times higher than that at the surface.
In September 2013, the Blobfish was voted the ‘World’s Ugliest Animal’ by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. But we ought to give the poor guys a break. After all, we would be crushed to death if we were to dive down to such depths. It’s pretty remarkable they can survive down there. Considering, they actually look pretty normal down there in the ocean.
The Humpback Anglerfish resides in depths of temperate and tropical seas across the world. The distinctive ‘fishing rod’ hanging above its head is, interestingly, only found in females. The tip of the ‘rod’ lights up thanks to bioluminescent symbiotic bacteria. As seen in Finding Nemo, this light is used to attract prey, luring Marlin and Dory to swim toward this beast of a fish.
On the other hand, male anglers aren’t so special and do not posses the lure. Males grow up to three centimeters long, in contrast to the 18 centimeter-long females. As males mature, they attach themselves to a female using their hook-shaped teeth. His bite releases an enzyme, fusing their blood vessels together, and releases sperm to fertilise her eggs. He then spends the rest of his life attached to the female. Kinky.
The Vampire Squid lives in tropical waters at depths where virtually no light penetrates. It possesses morphological features of octopuses, squids and cuttlefishes.They can glow in the dark as a result of light-generating organs called ‘photophores’ which cover their body. They have large globular eyes which may glow red or blue. Their eyes are so big, that Vampires Squids claim the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest eye-to-body ratio’ of any animal.
The Vampire Squid has a number of nifty defense mechanisms in response to a threat. It can turn itself inside-out to form a spiky ball. This position, called the ‘pineapple position’, exposes their black-pigmented regions, making it difficult for predators to identify them in the dark. Vampire Squids can also escape from predators by ejecting a glowing mucous cloud.
The Black Swallower
The Black Swallower (warning: don’t try googling this) is renowned for its ability to swallow very large fish. It feeds on bony fishes, which are swallowed whole thanks to their highly stretchable jaw and stomach. Though it has never been seen alive, it is speculated that the Black Swallower captures its prey by the tail, then slowly engulfs the fish until it is fully coiled inside the stomach.
However, just because you can swallow a fish larger than you, doesn’t always mean you should. Super ambitious Black Swallowers sometimes swallow prey so large that decomposition sets in before it can be digested. This results in a release of gases which inflate and burst the Swallower’s stomach. They then float up to the surface, dead. Oops.
Not all deep-sea creatures are ugly and weird. Take for instance, Piglet Squids. The alignment of skin pigments makes them look like they’re smiling 24/7. As larvae, they are found near the surface of the ocean, and descend towards the depths of the ocean as they mature. Unlike other squids, they seem to enjoy swimming upside down, and being planktonic animals, they go where the currents take them.
Very little is known about their biology, but scientists have established this much: Piglet Squids look kinda like Gonzo from The Muppets.
Words by Cindy Zhou
Illustration by Dian Mashita
We’ve been condemned as ungrateful and narcissistic, and for housing an overblown sense of entitlement. Adverse social commentary—on our Narcissistic Personality Disorder rates overhauling our older generational counterparts’ threefold, or admonition for living in an Age of Entitlement surrounded by an abundance of iProducts (we’re all about the “I”)—has tarred Generation Y with a tacky and odious brush, painting us as lazy, flaky and non-committal.
Our childhoods were filled with adulation and constantly battered by the ‘follow your passion’ tripe. Now we are characterised by unrealistic expectations that lead to chronic disappointment. Generation X was monikered as ‘latchkey kids’ as they were raised at a time when both parents worked and were forced to fend for themselves. In contrast, Gen Y is somewhat coddled and dependent on helicopter parents, leading to a higher stay-at-home spike. Embarrassingly low youth voter turnout in politics has led to pundits declaring Gen Y as ‘apathetic’ or ‘politically disengaged’.
The term Gen Y roughly refers to everyone born in the 1980s to the early 1990s—the last group of people attached to the twentieth century. It was still pre-internet and yet we have primarily grown up in a world surrounded by technology. The tail end of this generation is students: we are the millennials. But are we really as hopeless as our older counterparts claim?
The assumptions that become affixed to generations often lead to competition where there should be a conversation. The fact is that it is impossible to compare Gen Y with the Baby Boomers because the social context is starkly different. The quality of one generation is simply a barometer of seismic shifts in the competing social values of the time. Today, we face a range of changes and new difficulties: stagnating wages, unemployment, student debt, and soaring house prices. We are marred by an overall uncertainty of economies and labour markets. Millennials remain in a precarious position – we house high aspirations but dismal economic prospects, and this can leave us feeling a little lost.
We are sometimes called the ‘Trophy Generation’—there is a tendency for kids in this demographic to receive awards regardless of actual achievement (remember all of those ‘participation’ ribbons and certificates?). We are told constantly that we’re special individuals with unique potential, so we develop highly ambitious aspirations. To quote the Pussycat Dolls, When I grow up, I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies. But in all seriousness, it’s not that we’re self-absorbed or egoistic, it’s that we’re self-important. We understand that we are special and independent, and with enough hard work, we can reach our dreams.
The rush of judgement and negativity aimed at Generation Y from older people can overlook our merits that arise in the face of the challenges of modern day society. We may be chastised as idealistic and naïve, but surely it is the hopefulness we nurture that will lead to a bright future. Gen Y is generally more tolerant and socially conscious of different opinions, sexualities, ethnicities, cultures, and more critical of authority. For example, the ever-widening acceptance of same-sex marriages and relationships is a civil movement inconceivable to Gen Y’s grandparents. Times change, and people do too. Call it social evolution.
Quite simply, we ‘work to live’ instead of ‘live to work’. We are naturally collaborative, talented, open-minded, flexible and are digitally enabled. Self-image is worthy of protection. Volunteering and advocacy forms an integral part of many young people’s lives – clubs such as Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, Oaktree, Oxfam Group and Youth Charity Society within Melbourne University offer a glimpse into the ways that Generation Y defy the scrutiny they receive for being acquiescent and detached. Community mindedness fosters a more inclusive society through service to others. We’re pro-life, bubbly, wide-eyed and enthusiastic. And that is a good thing.