Ah, the ocean. Generally when one thinks of the ocean, they think of vacations, boating, fishing, swimming – you know, fun stuff. Perhaps we’re thinking of the ocean all wrong though, because there are some seriously weird creatures lurking around in those waters.
We’ve all seen Jaws, and even if you haven’t, you’re most likely aware of sharks. When anyone thinks of a scary sea creature, a shark is probably the most popular one that comes to mind, but as you’re about to learn, there are a few sea creatures even more terrifying than sharks. What about creatures that can swallow whole animals 4 times larger than them? That’s pretty creepy.
So, as if you needed another reason to be scared of the beach this summer, the fifteen sea creatures on this list are strange and, well, some of them are also scary as hell. Of course, there are certainly a few more immediate issues to worry about, like sun exposure. For the most part, the weird sea creatures tend to live pretty deep down in the ocean so you should be relatively safe from seeing them, though a few do travel to the surface at nighttime.
Sure, you’ll probably never have to deal with all of the weird sea creatures on this list, but it’s still good to know what you’re dealing with when you go diving into the ocean, right? Here are fifteen sea creatures that are stranger than anything living on the land.
Question: how terrifying is the above picture? To me, it’s horrifying. Like, it honestly terrifies me that something that scary is alive and living in the ocean, just waiting for me to dip my toes in. That’s the viperfish for you, just a big ol’ dose of scary looking. The good news is that the viperfish, known for its needle-like teeth, stays near 250–5,000 feet below during the daytime. The bad news is that during the night, the viperfish will come up to the shallow waters, so you should probably stay away from the ocean after nightfall.
Viperfish apparently lure their prey near them with light-producing organs. Yeah, it has organs that will produce light, so the viperfish will little light up and dim like a rave until another fish comes over to check it out. The fact that it has light-producing organs might be cool, if the fish wasn’t terrifying to begin with.
14. Blue-Ringed Octopus
Admittedly, the blue-ringed octopus looks much less scary than ol’ long-teeth, but don’t be fooled. Don’t mess with the little guy, because the blue-ringed octopus is one of the most venomous sea creatures out there. In fact, their venom contains a neurotoxin that will flat-out kill you. Within one minute of being bitten, the venom will disable your respiratory muscles, causing the respiratory system to shut down and bam, you’re a goner. The animal usually hangs out in tide pools and coral reefs, so you should be fine. If you do see a cute octopus with blue spots though, I’d keep clear.
13. Giant Squid
Giant squid only leave in the deep parts of the ocean – like, super deep down. I mean, they’re a bit too big to be partying up near the shoreline, ya know? How big are they exactly? Well, the female squids will grow to be 13 meters (43 feet) and the male squids will grow to be 10 meters (33 feet). Apparently, this abnormal largeness is due to deep-sea gigantism. Deep-sea invertebrates in the will grow to be much larger sizes than the same species living in shallow waters, which totally makes me never want to travel way down to the deep sea.
12. Sarcastic Fringehead
I don’t mean to be mean, but sarcastic fringeheads are pretty ugly, aren’t they? The weird, scaleless fish is territorial and aggressive as hell. When two sarcastic fringeheads have a territorial issue, they will face off by opening their mouths and putting them against each other. Yeah, like kissing. This is to identify which fish has the largest mouth and is, therefore, more powerful. Unlike some of the other sea creatures on this list, you may actually see this sucker some day. They like to hang along the northern Pacific coast from San Fransisco to Baja, California.
11. Black Dragonfish
The black dragonfish is another terrifying looking fish that I honestly wish I didn’t even know existed. The black dragonfish actually has a lot in common with the viperfish – other than just being gross and scary looking. Like the viperfish, the black dragonfish chills pretty far below sea level, about 2,000 metres down, but (again, like the viperfish) the females will come to surface waters at night. The black dragonfish can light up to attract its prey but, unlike most other animals that are bioluminescent, they can see their own light and use it to help them hunt.
10. Frilled Sharks
For the most part, any sharks are terrifying, but this guy is a bit scarier than your run-of-the-mill shark. For starters, because of its primitive features, this shark is considered a living fossil. When it attacks prey, it bends its body back and launches forward – you know, like a snake would. Once it lunges at you, this shark has such a flexible jaw that it usually just swallows its prey whole. The rows and rows of needle-like teeth are there to keep prey from escaping their mouths. This shark with snake-like movements is a likely source for reports of mythological sea serpents. Unfortunately (or fortunately…?), they are considered a threatened species and nearly endangered due to their low reproductive rate.
9. Giant Isopod
Giant isopods hang out in the deep, cold waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, which makes sense because they totally look like bottom dwellers. They are related to shrimp and crabs but basically look like cockroaches – giant cockroaches. They can be up to 50 centimeters (about 20 inches) in length. Imagine seeing a 20-inch cockroach, that’s what this giant isopod is like. Luckily, these guys stay deep below, unlike cockroaches.
8. Gulper Eel
The gulper eel has a very large body. In fact, its mouth is larger than its body. It is very flexible and can be opened so wide that the gulper eel can swallow whole a prey even larger than itself. If you were worried about the eel being able to digest a prey larger than itself, no need to fret. The stomach will expand in order to accommodate a larger meal. With its small tail, this eel is not built to go chasing after its prey so, like other animals on this list, it will give off a light to attract prey to it, then consume said prey with its huge mouth. Because of the mouth, this eel resembles a pelican and is sometimes even referred to as a pelican eel.
7. Vampire Squid
The name for this squid is actually creepier than the animal. You would think a vampire squid would, well, feed on blood, right? Well, wrong. This animal usually has a skin that is a pale red or black color, cloak-like webbing and red eyes, which is what gave the squid this unusual name. Due to the fact that this squid shares features with both squids and octopuses, it is classified as a Vampyromorphid and is the only remaining species in the order. They are considered a relic as they were likely to have been wide-spread before but are much less common now.
6. Leafy Seadragon
A leafy seadragon is seen in the picture above, though you may have trouble finding it because the leafy seadragon basically looks like a plant. All of the leafiness you see coming from the fish’s body doesn’t serve any purpose other than camouflage, and camouflage it does well. The seadragon will move slowly though water, causing it to look like a piece of floating seaweed, which is exactly what its predators think it is as they pass by it. This little leafy guy can be found along the southern and western coast of Australia.
5. Kiwa Crab
Only just discovered in 2005, it’s similar to a crab or lobster but just a little furrier. Yep, this crustacean is known for its silky setae, which resembles fur. Considering the fact that they usually dwell 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) below the surface, it kind of makes sense that no one stumbled upon this creature until lately. The setae contain a bacteria that will detoxify poisonous minerals in the water so the fur isn’t just for show, people. It’s got a purpose.
4. The Black Swallower
So, black swallowers basically look like something out of a horror movie, huh? While they are generally pretty tiny (about 9 inches), they are known to be able to swallow a fish much larger than them. The sharp looking teeth form a single row that will interlock and trap prey. It is speculated that the black swallower will grab its prey by the tail with its teeth and then “walk” its jaw over the prey until it has swallowed it. They will swallow things so large that the animal will start to decompose while the black swallower is still digesting. In 2007 a black swallower was found dead and in its stomach was a snake that was four times its size. Sure, the black swallower is too small to swallow a human whole, but I wouldn’t put it past one to try.
3. Armored Snail
Alright, so a snail might not seem so odd to you, but this one is pretty badass. This animal lives in hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean, which are about 1 mile down – aka further down in the ocean than I’ll ever care to go. In these hydrothermal vents, the temperature can be as hot as 750 degrees F because it’s so close to the Earth’s crust. This snail isn’t just cool because it likes to hang out in the heat. This snail is so badass because its shell is built out of iron. Yes, like real iron. It’s the only animal on Earth that can use iron in this way.
2. Big Red Jellyfish
The big red jellyfish is one of the largest jellyfish in the entire ocean, which is only one of the reasons why this animal is so odd. The jellyfish, which generally lives 600 to 1,500 metres (2,000 to 4,900 ft) below the surface, has fleshy oral arms instead of the tentacles that most jellyfish have. The deep red color is what it was named for, though it was originally to be named “Big Ugly” because, well, it’s big and ugly. Thankfully, these jellyfish live very deep down because you would not want to get stung by something that large.
Hm, well this fish has a transparent head so that’s pretty weird. Yes, the above photo is an actual picture of the fish and its transparent head. Could you imagine having a transparent head with people able to see your brain? They also have tubular eyes that are good at collecting light, which is helpful as they live deep down in the sea where it is mostly dark. While they have good eyesight, they have a very narrow line of vision, but all of this is boring information compared to that fact that their heads are transparent. Yep, that’s 100% the most fascinating thing about this weird fish.