Kinky secrets of the deep

by Ben Gilliland

Clown fish
 Even Nemo has his quirks when it comes to sex. Clownfish live in a group consisting of a breeding male and female pair and several non-breeding males. Should the female die, the breeding male will change sex and become female. Then the largest of the non-breeding males gets a promotion to become the breeding male

Anglerfish 
This deep-sea dweller is among the most bizarre of the under-sea sex fiends and the male gets the bad end of the deal. Male anglerfish are tiny and are born without a digestive system. Without the ability to eat,males race to find a female. Once a mate is found, the diminutive male bites his lover and releases an enzyme that digests his skin and fuses the two fish together. The male then wastes away until he become little more than a package of sperm on the female's body - ready to be tapped into at a later date 
Flatworm
In the world of the flatworm, sex is war. Like their sea slug cousins, all flatworms are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female organs). For the flatworm, the male organ takes the shape of two dagger-like penises that are used to hunt as well as mate. During mating, two flatworms  will 'fence' with their penises until one becomes stabbed. The 'loser' then absorbs the sperm and becomes a mother 
Rockfish
This long-lived fish - the  oldest recorded being 205 years - reaches sexual maturity from 6-20 years old. Before mating the fish engage in an elaborate ritual that can last  half an hour Male rockfish gain their mate's interest with a darting display of rushing and turning movements. During the display, males pass close to the female's Snout and urinate in her face. The deal secured, they entwine and copulate. Females give birth to live young Barnacle
How does a creature that spends its entire life latched to a single spot find a mate? In the world of the barnacle, size does matter and the male has little trouble rising to the occasion. He is armed with an inflatable penis that extends to some 50 times his body length which he uses to probe his neighbours until he finds a female 
Paper nautilus
Also known as the argonaut, the paper nautilus is related to octopus and squid. The male is many times smaller than the female - 2cm compared to 45cm. He produces a ball of sperm in a special testicle called a hectocotylus. When he spots a suitable female, he detaches his penis which then swims off by itself to intercept the target
Giant squid
These giants of the seas have come up with a 'handy' solution to breeding. Because they live in the darkest depths of the world's oceans, finding a mate at the right time is difficult. So when a male and female do meet up they have to make the most of the opportunity. The male - which grows up to 14m - has a metre-long muscular penis which he uses to stab the female's tentacles.His sperm is deposited into the resulting wound where it remains until the female is ready to make use of them.During his musical number Under The Sea in Disney movie The Little Mermaid, Sebastian the crab proclaims: 'Darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me'. While children may labour under the misapprehension that the reference was to the generally higher standard of living to be found beneath the waves, some adult scientists know he was actually referring to sex.

'It's just mind-blowing what these creatures get up to,' says Sheree Marris, a scientist who writes about sex in the marine world. 'As humans we think we're such sexual beasts but compared to sea creatures we're so boring.'

Many marine creatures live in an environment where mates can be hard to find and predators hard to avoid so they have had to develop some bizarre strategies to get some action and avoid getting eaten at the same time.

Most animals are only receptive to mates at certain times and for many sea creatures getting together to do the deed at the right time can be almost impossible. The anglerfish is once such beast. This strange fish lives in the extreme depths of the ocean where it is perpetually dark, cold and pretty lonely. To attract a mate, she secretes a perfume that the tiny male finds irresistible. Once he picks up the scent, he pursues the much larger female until he can give her a love bite - one that she will never shake off.

Once attached, he becomes fused to her and 'dissolves' until all that remains are a blob of testicles on her skin. When she is ready to breed, the female commands her sex slave to release the sperm she needs. 'One female brought up had 11 males attached to her, she was one lucky girl,' Marris added.

Far cuter that the anglerfish, but with their own brand of sexual deviance, are the much-loved dolphins who not only enjoy casual and recreational sex but will also masturbate by rubbing against other dolphins and stick their penises in one another's blow holes. 'That's why it's hotter, under the water...' It certainly is, Sebastian.

[Metro 16 Nov,2007]

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