“Piranha 3D” wasn’t just a pointless exercise in unnecessary remakes; the summertime horror flick also gave sea-dwelling critters a bad name. Watching videos of surprised kitties and merengue-dancing dogs may have eaten up precious hours of our lives in 2010, but discoveries of curious deep-sea fish — plus a strangely prescient octopus — enraptured us as well. As the year draws to a close, we remember three creatures whose depths we appreciated.
Paul the Octopus
Paul, the mussel-eating octopod, most famously predicted eight wins in the 2010 World Cup final. Originally from English waters, he had been beloved by the Germans until he correctly predicted their loss in the semifinals, and then he was adored by Spain when he predicted that country’s victory. Paul’s hungry predictions were made when the octopus gravitated to one of two flag-labeled boxes, each containing a delectable mussel. His videos grew more popular online with every accurate prediction. After the Cup, he retired, then died a few months later in his aquarium in Germany. Scientists have tried to explain Paul’s success, but who can really divine the ways of an eight-legged oracle? He surfaced again at the end of the year as one of our famous animals and as the No. 10 Twitter trend (and the only trend in Spanish), Pulpo Paul.
Cute or ew? People took sides in March, when the sea bug hitched a ride on a submarine to the Earth’s surface. The giant isopod is basically a big pink roly poly, able to grow up to 14 inches in length and weighing in at over 3.5 pounds. It’s related to crab and shrimp, perhaps begging the question: What does it taste like? Whatever its flavor, it could feed a large group for sure, if they can stomach its looks — and the fact that Bathynomus eats dead stuff on the ocean floor. You wouldn’t want to run into one on a scuba excursion, but you might want to look at lots of cool pictures. (This photo is courtesy of Expedition to the Deep Slope 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program)
Is it an ogre or a sea creature? What we know for sure is that it makes its home underwater. The Shrek fish, or Asian Sheepshead Wrasse (if you want to be technical about it), gained worldwide notoriety at the end of August, after a viral video circulated showing its bulbous ugliness –- and resemblance to a certain animated forest dweller. Some Web commentators were skeptical, but the Shrek moniker proved good enough marketing for the grainy fish vid to land it on our list. The large male fish made famous in the video, showcased on WFF4, is estimated to be about 30 years old, about a third of the lifespan of your average ogre.
In case you were wondering how fish ranked in the human scale of affection, they came in third in 2010, after cats and dogs. And they earned that respect without having to play peekaboo or wear embarrassing tutus.
Most Searched Critters on Yahoo! in 2010