When most people this of the ocean is all the monsters and scary looking creatures down in the abyss (and we will make a list of the scariest too) but there are also a lot of cute little creatures that live in the ocean. Here is a list of the cutest that we know of.
While it might look like a cartoon sheep, this adorable little creature is actually a type of sea slug. That means its related to the common garden snail...distantly sure. Regardless of their cuteness, these creatures actually have a really fascinating ability as well. While the Leaf sheep, much like its much larger counterpart, eats plants, it also has an ability called kleptoplasty. Kleptoplasty is the ability to keep the chloroplast that is in the algae that the animal eats and instead move the chloroplasts to the skin to perform photosynthesis for the Leaf Sheep.
Named after the Disney character, Dumbo octopi are actually a group of 13 species that have large fins right above their eyes. While almost looking like ears, these fins are the main way the octopi swim. Although very similar to another octopus on this list, the genus that that the Dumbo octopi belong to has a very unique ability. They have transparent spots int heir skin above their eyes but below their fins that allows them to detect unfocused light. A great benefit since they live at depths between 1km and 7km's down where very little light is around. Being able to detect slight changes in light levels could alert you to danger or prey, bot options are really helpful.
Much like the Dumbo Octopi doesn't refer to a specific species, the Puffer or Pufferfish doesn't refer to a specific species either, instead it is a family of fish known scientifically as Tetraodontidae. The Latin name refers to the fact that Puffers have four teeth in the front of their mouth. Two on the top and two on the bottom. Both pairs are fused together to form plates are are used to crush their prey which are crustaceans and other shellfish.
There are currently 7 known species of Pygmy Seahorses. None of the species seem to get larger than 3cm long. They are extremely well camouflaged, which, when compounded by their small size are very difficult to spot. Due to this, most of the species have only been discovered in the last twenty years. The species tend to live in different habitats in the sense that some species live amongst Sea Fan corals, others live in Sea Grass and others still live among soft corals. Its not just the size of the sea horse that makes it a pygmy sea horse. Other differences include the fact that the true pygmy sea horse only has a single gill opening in the back of the head rather than two on either side of the head. Also, the males brood the young in a pouch on the trunk.
Closely related to the Puffer that we spoke about earlier, now we have the boxfish. These squarish creatures have faces that closely resemble some Star Wars aliens. They are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific ocean but seem to stick mainly to the middle latitudes where the water is warmer. There are currently 23 extant (living) species that are referred to as box fish. These fish are highly armoured with their scales fused into a flat box-like carapace. Some species have an additional survival strategy of being able to secrete poison into the surrounding water.
Closely related to the cuttlefish, we have the second of three Cephalopods (octopi and squid) on this list. This one is called a Bobtail Squid. The total body length is usually somewhere between 1 - 10 cm's, so they are tiny little creatures. They generally swim using their fins on their mantle (head/body) or by using jet propulsion if they are in a rush to get somewhere else, like if there is a predator around. One interesting feature about these squid is that since they live in coastal waters, there is a very real chance that a predator might see them from below silhouetted again the light surface of the water. The squid have therefore developed a really cool defence. They have a symbiotic relationship with a specific bacteria in their skin that produces bio-luminescence which makes the squid glow from underneath distorting any silhouette that might show up making them harder to see from below.
Found only around the Hawaiian islands, the pom-pom crab is special in how it carries around two anemones in each claw. Its not clear why the pom-pom crab carries around the anemones, some theories have been for protection or for help getting food. An extensive study of the crabs fighting style however showed that while they may wave the anemones at their competitor at first, as they got closer the anemones were held behind the crab rather than used for fighting. If a crab only has one anemone like can be found sometimes, the crab will tear the anemone in two with both pieces growing into normal anemones. The crabs and anemones themselves are very small, reaching sizes of about 2cm.
These little guys are actually a species that belong to a of molluscs called nudibranchs. The same group of animals as the Leaf Sheep mentioned earlier int he article. The animal looks like a bunny with the two structures on the front of the head resembling rabbit ears. The two structures are actually chemo-receptors to sense chemicals in the water allow it to locate food and mates. Sea Bunnies seem to reach a maximum length of about 1 inch or 2.5cm.
A related species to the previously mentioned Dumbo octopi, let us introduce you to the Flapjack Octopus. The cute little creature is one of the larger species on the list. The swim using their over grown fins on their mantle. They don't live nearly as deep as the Dumbo octopi, instead preferring to live at depths of about 500 to 1500 meters. Like other octopi, these cute little ones are predators and feed on small fish.
There are undoubtedly more cute animals under the sea but these are some of the cutest. What do you think? Know of any other creatures that would fit on this list?