If you’re not terrified by what lurks beneath the surface of our deep oceans, you will be after looking at these pictures. Thankfully, these deep sea creatures live in the darkest, coldest waters at pressures where humans can’t safely venture. So we’re all relatively safe… for now.
Many deep sea inhabitants live in areas where light can no longer penetrate, and it’s amazing they’re still able to survive. Behind the shadowy realm of water lives some of the most bizarre, strangest, and most terrifying marine life that you probably never even knew existed. These aren’t the types of dazzling and beautiful fish you would see at your local aquarium. These are the things nightmares are made of. From hairy crabs to blubbery jello masses of who knows what, looking at these photos is like looking at an underwater freak show. I hope you don’t have a weak stomach because many of these pictures are prone to make people gag.
There’s nothing else I can do nor say that will prepare you for what you’re about to see. So if you’re ready to feast your eyes on the most horrifying sea life to ever exist, click through these pictures and prepare to shiver in disgust. Here are a few of the ugliest deep sea creatures that are creepy AF. If you can make it through the entire list without upchucking, you deserve a pat on the back.
This sea creature may look like something you blow out of your nose when you’re suffering from a cold, but it’s actually called a Blobfish, and it’s one ugly creature! The Blobfish is primarily found in the deep water off the coast of New Zealand and Australia, at depths of over 3,900 feet. At that level, the pressure is 20-60 times greater than what it is at sea level, so the Blobfish’s body is nothing more than a jello-y, blobby mass.
With a density less than water, this fish is able to float above the sea floor without using too much of its energy. The Blobfish led a life of obscurity at the deepest pits of the ocean up until it was voted “World’s Ugliest Animal” back in 2013. Its newfound popularity has enticed deep sea fishers to go Blobfish fishing, and scientists now fear this ugly species may become endangered.
14. Tongue-Eating Louse
I can’t even look at this picture without the hairs on my arms standing at attention. This here is a tongue-eating louse, and it does exactly what its name proclaims. This parasite can be found in the Gulf of California, and any species that comes in contact with it is in for a disgusting and nasty surprise.
The louse enters a fish through its gills and attaches itself at the bottom of the fish’s tongue. It squeezes the tongue with its claws, causing the tongue’s nerve supply to become damaged. The fish’s tongue eventually atrophies and dies, and the louse replaces the tongue with its own body. The fish will carry on and use the parasite as its new, functioning tongue. The host fish can live a normal life with its new parasite buddy attached to the inside of its mouth, and the louse will feast on the blood and mucous of the fish for the rest of its life. Once the fish dies, the louse will cling to its head or body for dear life, and little is known what happens to it from that point on. So basically, the louse is the equivalent of a houseguest from hell.
13. Dumbo Octopus
Here we have the Dumbo Octopus, and he’s one ugly son of a gun. This octopus can come in two different shapes: short and yellow, or big and brown. They have ear-like fins that protrude above their eyes and a shell in their mantle that gives them a bell-shaped appearance. Their name comes from their ears, of course, which are reminiscent of the Disney flying elephant, Dumbo. The largest Dumbo Octopus ever recorded was almost 6-feet-long and weighed 13 pounds, but the average size of this creature is usually less than a foot long.
The Dumbo Octopus has a very small food supply at the bottom of the ocean. With many of them living 23,000 feet below sea level, their dinner options include worms, copepods, and crustaceans. They don’t live a very long and lengthy life, either. Their average lifespan is just 3-5 years. They have been found all over the world, in waters off of New Zealand, Australia, Oregon and Papua New Guinea.
No, you are not looking at a creature from a sci-fi movie. This here is the Barreleye – a small, toothless fish. This deep-sea fish is located in warmer climates and tropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. They get their name from their barrel-shaped eyes that are always pointed upwards. Their large, telescopic eyes allow them to see their prey, but what’s really creepy about this species of fish is the top of their head. It is enclosed in a transparent dome full of soft tissue, and their eyes are actually covered beneath the surface. With their transparent heads, you can see right through them. Their clear dome allows them to collect more light from the deepest pits of the ocean, and they can spot their meal of choice, such as tiny fish and jellyfish, with ease.
This monstrosity is called the Stargazer, and it has a face only a mother could love. Both of its eyes and its mouth is located at the top of its head. This allows the Stargazer to burrow itself underneath the sand and watch its prey as it swims by. The Stargazer will then leap out of the sand to ambush its prey in the deep saltwater oceans across the world.
This fish has venomous spines behind their pectoral fins and their opercles, and they can also administer a deadly electric shock when they come in contact with their prey. Basically, the Stargazer is one fish you definitely don’t want to mess with!
One species of Stargazers is now extinct, and with 51 species left, the others may soon follow suit. This fish is captured in many parts of the world and is considered a delicacy in many cultures. Their electric organs are removed prior to cooking, and their venom isn’t poisonous when ingested.
10. The Black Swallower
This is a deep sea fish of the Chiasmodontidae family. The Black Swallower has the ability to swallow fish that are larger than itself. This is pretty impressive, considering the Swallower has an average length of just 9.8 inches long. The lower jaw sticks out – like your typical underbite. Inside of its mouth are rows of sharp teeth that can interlock together when its mouth is closed shut.
When it’s time for the Swallower to go on the hunt, it captures other fish by latching onto their tails. Then, it “walks” its jaws over its prey until it’s tightly coiled inside of its stomach. A Black Swallower washed up off the coast of Grand Cayman, and inside its body was a snake mackerel that was approximately 34 inches long, or more than four times the Swallower’s length! Many Swallowers will swallow fish so long that they don’t have time to digest it fully before decomposition sets in.
9. Oyster Toadfish
This creepy little critter is called an oyster toadfish, also known as the “ugly toad.” It can be found all over the world, from the Caribbean Sea to the coast of Maine. This toadfish gets its name from the slimy, gooey mass of the oyster and the warts that cover its skin like a toad. These two physical traits definitely make the oyster toadfish one of the fugliest creatures in the deep sea.
As if its warts and blubbery body weren’t enough, the toadfish also has bulging blue eyes, a wide mouth lined with blunt teeth, and a spiny fin. The noise that this creature emits is like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It has been described as a foghorn-like sound that the males make during their mating season. After mating with the female, the female throws up the peace sign and leaves the male to tend to the eggs. So the male oyster toadfish may be ugly, but at least he’s not a deadbeat dad!
8. Deep Sea Anglerfish
The deep sea anglerfish is known for its massive head and translucent teeth. With its wide jaw, it is able to swallow prey up to twice its size. There are more than 200 species of anglerfish in the world, with many of them living in the deep sea.
The male fish know they’re lacking in the looks department, so when they find a mate, they hang on to her for life. Literally. When the male finds a suitable mate, they bite into her belly, latch onto her skin, and allow their bodies to fuse together. Their blood vessels join together, allowing the male to take in all the nutrients from the female’s body. But the females aren’t looking to settle down anytime soon. Many female anglerfish can have up to six male bodies attached to her. The males live the rest of their lives being an appendage to the female, relying on her completely. Talk about clingy…
Because he’s so dependent on the female, he doesn’t really need to swim or eat like a normal fish. So his eyes, fins, and some of his internal organs degenerate and wither away until he’s nothing more than a lump of flesh hanging onto the belly of a much larger and healthier female. Sounds a lot like my ex-boyfriend TBH.
7. Yeti Crab
This disgusting mutation looks like it belongs on another planet, but it actually lives in the depths of the South Pacific Ocean. The Yeti Crab is a horrifying crustacean that gets its name from the massively hairy arms of the abominable snowman of the Himalaya, of course. This creepy AF crab is known for its silky blonde hair that resembles fur on its legs and claws.
Not much is known about the Yeti Crab because it lives at depths up to 7,200 feet below sea level. Scientists have come up with many ideas as to why the crab is covered in fur. Many believe since the Yeti doesn’t have eyes, it uses the hair as a physical sensor to help them locate food and mates in the ocean. And others believe the hair supports large colonies of bacteria for the Yeti to feast on. At this point, we may never know why this crab is rocking a body of silky blonde hair that’s putting Jessica Simpson to shame.
If you hate snakes, you’ll hate the Hagfish even more. This class of eel-shaped marine fish are more than just gross looking. They actually produce a disgusting slime throughout their entire body. The slime allows the Hagfish to escape from its prey by distracting its predators and allowing it to slide its way through their jaws.
The slime is made of a milky, fibrous substance, and its expelled from 100 glands running along the fish’s flanks. When captured by the tail, the Hagfish can excrete up to 5 gallons of the sticky slime, and if they are unable to free themselves, they can twist themselves into an overhand knot and wiggle away.
An estimated 76 species of Hagfish live in shallow and deep waters ranging up to 5,500 feet below sea level. Swimming through the dark and cold abyss, it’s not easy for this fish to capture food, and they can go months without eating anything at all.
These fish look like something out of a comic book, don’t they? They’re called deep sea Hatchetfish, and they get their name from their hatchet-shaped profile. There are over 40 species of Hatchetfish, and they come in at an average of 4-inches-long. They can be found in tropical and subtropical waters, and they live well below sea level. Luckily for the Hatchetfish, it is able to produce its own light through a phenomenon called bioluminescence. Light is produced in its cells known as photophores that are located along the length of its body. With their tubular eyes that point upwards, they can spot crustaceans and other small fish with ease. Sadly, for this ugly fish, their life is short and sweet. Most Hatchetfish don’t make it past one year. So they’re basically born, they mate, they swim around for a bit, and then they go to fish heaven.
4. Goblin Shark
Suddenly, that shark from Jaws doesn’t look so bad after all. We never thought it was possible for a shark to be equal parts dangerous, deadly, and downright ugly. The Goblin Shark has a very long snout that protrudes from its tiny head. Its gums and jaws stick out from its mouth, and it has nail-like teeth and a loose, flabby body. When mature, the Goblin Shark is about 13-feet-long, and it spends most of its time living a life of leisure.
Due to it being out of shape and sluggish, the Goblin Shark isn’t going to waste all of its energy swimming after its prey at a high rate of speed. Instead, it’s more than content with munching on all the tiny fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans that chill out at the bottom of the ocean. Its long, flat snout is covered with ampullae of Lorenzini – sensing organs that form a network of jelly-filled pores. These sensors allow the shark to sense minute electric fields that are produced by its nearby prey.
3. Red-Lipped Batfish
Move over, Taylor Swift. You’re not the only one who can rock a bright red lipstick!
The Red-Lipped Batfish, also known as the Galapagos batfish, is a fish that’s found around the Galapagos Islands and off the coast of Peru. This fish hangs out close to 300 feet below sea level, and it’s known for its bright red lips. Scientists believe their lips are red to enhance the species recognition during spawning, but we think the batfish is nothing more than a deep sea makeup guru. JK… sort of…
The batfish has a structure on its head called an illicium, which is a retractable appendage. The illicium is said to attract prey, such as small fish and shrimp. On the underside of its body, it’s covered in bony scales, and it has tiny thorns on its tail. The batfish isn’t a very good swimmer, so they use their pectoral fins to help them “walk” across the ocean floor.
2. Frilled Shark
If you didn’t think it could get any worse, it just did. This is the Chlamydoselachus anguineus, also known as the Frilled Shark. I’m sure you can already guess where this creepy beast gets its name from – its row of frilled teeth, of course. Seriously, this shark looks like something out of a freak show.
The Frilled Shark lives most of its life at the bottom of the ocean, at depths up to 5,150 feet. So thankfully, you don’t have to worry about getting a glimpse of its freakishly weird grill on your next glass bottom boat tour. It is rarely captured alive, so the only time it can really be examined is if one manages to wash onto the shore.
The Frilled Shark can grow up to 6-feet-long, and their large jaws allow them to deliver a strong and deadly bite that immobilizes its prey almost immediately. Because its jaw is so huge, the shark is able to devour prey over one-half its size, and it usually feasts on cephalopods and its fellow sharks.
1. Atlantic Wolffish
If you ever come in contact with an Atlantic Wolffish, it was nice knowin’ ya. This fish is one of the most vicious deep sea creatures around. It lives in the darkest, deepest, coldest abyss of the ocean, but its body produces a natural antifreeze to keep its blood moving fluidly. This sea creature is known for its ferocious set of saw-like teeth that line its throat. It has four to six sharp fangs, followed by three rows of chompers that can pierce through almost anything. So why does the Atlantic Wolffish need so many dang teeth? Because they spend their lives eating hard-shelled and pointy creatures. If you were munching on sea urchins and crabs all day, you’d want a pair of razor-sharp teeth, too!
The Atlantic Wolffish has very beady eyes and a slender body like an eel. This is another deep sea creature that may end up on the endangered species list. Although the Wolffish is not intentionally caught, it sometimes gets stuck in nets as bycatch. This has caused the creepy, toothy shark’s population to decrease throughout the years.