This undescribed species of drop-arm octopus (Abdopus sp.) was a rare find – its family name is derived from the species’ ability to discard a tentacle as a decoy to distract predators.

    Photo Credit:

    The purple dragon nudibranch (Flabellina rubrolineata) has the ability to re-use ingested stinging cells from its hydroid food as a defence against predators.

    Photo Credit:

    The eastern gobbleguts (Vincentia novaehollandiae) belongs to a family of small fish species known as cardinalfish. This quaint group has a unique trait in that their over-sized mouth serves as a brooding chamber for the male, who incubates the eggs in his mouth.

    Photo Credit:

    The splendid chromodoris (Chromodoris splendida) is endemic to eastern Australia and only found in waters within New South Wales and southern Queensland. It was described in 1864 by George Angas, an accomplished watercolour painter who was also secretary of the Australian Museum in Sydney.

    Photo Credit:

    The striped pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata) spends most of the day buried in the sand with only its eyes protruding. It emerges at night to reveal its distinctive black and white body, from which its name is derived.

    Photo Credit:

    The pineapplefish (Cleidopus gloriamaris) feeds predominantly at night. Its prey is detected via light emitted from special organs on the underside of the lower jaw. The light organs contain symbiotic bacteria that produce a greenish glow.

    Photo Credit:

    The cowry shell (Cypraea xanthodon) belongs to a family of marine gastropods known as Cypraeidae. Their shells are very rounded, almost like an egg except for a flat portion on the underside.

    Photo Credit:

    The peculiar doriopsilla (Doriopsilla peculiaris) was first described by Abraham in 1877 from a specimen collected in southern Australia. This species is mostly nocturnal and feeds on sponges.

    Photo Credit:

    The blue dragon nudibranch (Pteraeolidia ianthina) has clusters of filaments along the length of its body used for defence and respiration. The two appendages on the head, known as rhinophores, are used to detect prey.

    Photo Credit:

    Although extremely venomous, the blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena sp.) is quite a shy and graceful creature. Their potent venom is used to instantly stun their prey, which includes small crabs and fish.

    Photo Credit:

    The rose petal bubble shell (Hydatina physis) lives in shallow water and is often found burrowing into the sand. It predominantly feeds on polychaete worms, mussels and slugs.

    Photo Credit:

    The feathery gills on the back of the black-margined glossodoris (Glossodoris atromarginata) are constantly moving to help with respiration. Unlike other nudibranch species, this species has unusually thick skin that doesn’t allow secondary respiration to take place.

    Photo Credit:

    The striate anglerfish (Antennarius striatus) relies on camouflage to remain hidden from view. It then positions a moving lure over its mouth to attract prey. Once close enough, the anglerfish moves quickly to engulf its prey in a single mouthful.

    Photo Credit:

    The small head sole (Aesopia microcephala) has distinctive colouration and is known only from harbours and estuaries of New South Wales.

    Photo Credit:

    The tiger bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum taylori) is a relatively new species that was first described in 2003 from a few specimens obtained from New South Wales waters.

    Photo Credit:

    The common Sydney octopus (Octopus tetricus) can change its shape and the colour of its skin to imitate its environment. It feeds predominantly at night using a sharp beak to feed on crabs and molluscs.

    Photo Credit:

Gallery: Bizarre marine creatures

By AG STAFF | October 25, 2013

To celebrate 30 years of the marine reserve at Port Stephens, Justin Gilligan snapped some of its weirdest inhabitants.