Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College
Updated May 2014

Return to my MAIN DEEP-SEA PAGE for details on animal collection and for TOPIC CONTENTS (or use pull-down menu, below right).
For Deep PELAGIC Molluscs and Crustacea, see my Mesopelagic Page

If you copy and use photos, please WRITE for PERMISSION first at email just below. Some of these photos are mine, others are ones I took from the ROV Oceanic Explorer's camera monitor.

If you can help us identify species with a *, please contact me at the email just above.
Note: many of the specimens have been deposited at the Field Museum in Chicago and loans of the material can be arranged through Janet Voight ( or John Slapcinsky (

Benthic MOLLUSCS--Click here for Arthropods including 2012 - 2014 information on the supergiant hadal (trench) amphipod
Bivalves (clams, etc.) are the most common molluscs in the deep sediments. Most bivalve species are filter feeders, but some abyssal ones such as the longneck Cuspidarids (below) are carnivorous. They burrow in the mud, and suck in small crustaceans through their siphons. Scaphopods (tusk shells) are the next most common in the sediments. Some actively burrow horizontally through the mud seeking prey. Swimming above the bottom, Cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc.) are also common hunters of the deep. Recently, Johnsen et al. showed in the 11-Mar-99 issue of Nature (p113) that some deep-sea octopods have suckers that emit light, perhaps for communication and/or luring prey.
--Cephalopods in the deep --mainly squids and octopods--are often mysterious. Cirrate/dumbo octopods have paddle-like fins and webbed legs for swimming, and are often benthopelagic (on or just above the seafloor).
Pelagic species include the giant squid and even bigger colossal squid, which have been found dead many times (washed ashore), but only recently have ones been filmed alive. For information on and pictures of the Giant Squid, the bizarre Vampire Squid, and other strange pelagic cephalopods, see my Mesopelagic Page.


A. CALIFORNIA to BRITISH COLUMBIA BATHYAL AND ABYSSAL: (a) = abyssal plain (2300-2850m), (b) = bathyal zone--continental slope (1800-2000m) off Newport, Oregon; (mb) = 1000-3000m in Monterey Bay Canyon; Juan de Fuca ridge off British Columbia (2400m)
octopodX octopod2 cuspidarid vesicomya clam scaphopod snail snail09
Octopod (a)
Benthoctopus canthylus
Octopod (b)
Benthoctopus yaquinae
Longneck clam (a)
Cuspidaria sp. (apodema?)
Hydrocarbon-seep clam (b) Vesicomya gigas (1000-3000m)
See METHANE SEEPS for information on its symbiotes
Cockle clam (a)*
Scaphopod (a;mb)
Dentalium megathyris
Aforia crebristriata
Gastropod (mb)
with 3 anemones on it!(3000m)
bigsquid octopod1 octopod3 octopod4 octopod web
Big Squid(a)
Moroteuthis robusta
Octopod(a) Graneledone pacifica or
boreopacifica Nesis (700-2700m)
Cirrate octopod(a)
Cirroteuthis muelleri
Dumbo octopod(a)
Grimpoteuthis bathynectes
Dumbo's webbing
Unidentified Graneledone species from near the Juan de Fuca ridge (2400m) Benthoctopus from 2000m, Monterey Bay Canyon. Graneledone from 2000m, Monterey Bay Canyon.
*Those with "*" are ones we haven't identified at the species level.

B. CALIFORNIA/OREGON SUBTIDAL-- (er) = Eel River Seeps off Eureka, CA (510-520m) and (hr)- Hydrate Ridge off Newport, OR (500-890m) . See SEEPS & VENTS page for more images and information on some of these species

.. ....
Octopod (er)
Enteroctopus dofleini?
Cranchiid-type squid seen from Alvin at 880m (hr)
Neptunea humboldtiana or amianta (er, hr)
"BABYSITTER SNAILS": These Neptunea lay eggs in a spiral tower, sit on the top, then fall off and die once their jobs are done.

Various squid seen near seafloor from Alvin at 500 m (er)
Tiny limpets found on carbonate rocks (hr)
Left: Calyptogena (Vesicomya) pacifica (er); has bacterial symbionts; see SEEPS page for more. Right: Acharax spp. (hr); has bacterial symbionts; see Sahling et al. for more on Vesicomya and Acharax
A fairytale scene: The eggtowers form extensive surreal scenes of "forests" (er 2001,hr 2006).

Click to return to top; For Deep PELAGIC Crustacea, see my Mesopelagic Page

Marine Arthropods include:
--Crustaceans such as crabs, lobster, shrimp, amphipods, and isopods (for information on a giant isopod, go to Seasky's Giant Isopod); see news story RIGHT on our giant amphipod from 7km trench.
--Pycnogonids (sea spiders). The latter are tiny in shallow waters, seldom seen; but the deep sea spiders are often huge. They stride over the abyssal mud with their long legs, using a proboscis to suck tissues from sessile prey such as anemones.

*Those with "*" are ones we haven't identified at the species level. Again, please email me for permission if you use any photos.

HADAL (trench) Species: Breaking news Feb. 2012 and May 2014
Supergiant hadal Amphipod (here being held by one of my students) retrieved by U.Aberdeen/NIWA from 7km in the Kermadec trench
. For more: Click here for overview of DEEP-SEA GIGANTISM. For 2014 updates, go to the HADAL Page.
amphi giantsupergiant

CALIFORNIA to BRITISH COLUMBIA BATHYAL AND ABYSSAL: (a) = abyssal plain (2300-2850m), (b) = bathyal zone--continental slope (1800-2000m) off Newport, Oregon; (mb) = 1000-3000m in Monterey Bay Canyon; Juan de Fuca ridge off British Columbia (2400m)
crabs ._ shrimp1 shrimp2 galatheid
seaspider1 seaspider2
Paralithodes verrelli
(ob; 850-3300m);
Chionoecetes tanneri
(ob)-see next panel
P. multispina King Crab
(ob; 900-2000m); Neolithodes diomedeae (right; mb) King crab
Tanner crab
Chionoecetes tanneri
Caught with Alvin at Hydrate Ridge, about 600m deep (left, middle) and at 2300m on Juan de Fuca ridge
Bathyal Shrimp(b) Pandalopsis ampla?
Abyssal Shrimp (a) Neocrangon abyssorum?
Galatheid crabs (a)(mb*)
(Top:Munidopsis cascadiae?)
Seaspider (b)*
Ascorhynchus sp.??
Seaspider2 (a)*
Colossendeis sp
Unidentifed seaspider from Juan de Fuca ridge hydrothermal vents (2300m)
LEFT: Unidentified Gooseneck barnacle from 2000m, Monterey Bay Canyon.
NOTES on the SHRIMP above: if you click to enlarge the shrimp pictures, note that the BATHYAL one has large eyes but the ABYSSAL one has not.

Good reference books:
Deep-Sea Biology by J.D. Gage & P.A. Taylor, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Abyss by C.P. Idyll, Crowell Co., 1971