Deep below the surface of the oceans; places that few humans ever go, live some of the most frightening creatures on Earth.
This list compiles the strange and the rare; the dangerous and the harmless. One thing they all have in common though; they appear nothing like what we picture in our mind when thinking of oceanic animals and everything we might picture in a nightmare. Take a look at the 12 creatures listed below and see for yourself!
1. Goblin Shark:
These rare sharks are often called living fossils and range anywhere from 10 to 18 feet long; they are identified by a long snout and large, razor-sharp teeth. They typically live in deep waters and feed on creatures such as crustaceans. One of the most recent sightings was by a fisherman off of the coast of Key West, Florida in April, 2014.
2. Zombie Worms:
Yoshihiro Fujiwara / JAMSTEC
These small animals are sometimes known as Bone-Eating worms because they feed on the bones of dead whales. They do this by releasing a strong acid which dissolves the bone, releasing the nutrients inside. If that isn’t strange enough, only the female worms do this; this is because male zombie worms are microscopic and actually live inside of the females.
One notable fact about Dragonfishes is that the males do not have teeth and do not eat; they also have no bowel system. What does this mean? It means, if you’re a male Pez Dragon, you live to mate and then you die. The females however, live on mostly crustaceans and shrimp. They have an appearance similar to an eel but are not related. Pez-Dragon’s spend most of their time in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean but have been known to head to the surface at night.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
This bioluminescence fish comes with it’s own fishing lure! On top of it’s head is an elongated dorsal spine; this organ lights up and the Anglerfish attracts its prey by waving it back and forth. Also known as the black devil fish because of it’s terrifyingly sharp teeth and large mouth; the jaw is actually able to extend and the stomach can enlarge to twice it’s normal size for larger meals. Thankfully, this is a smaller fish, only around 5 inches (12 centimeters).
This little creature is also known as a Sea Toad but is really a type of Anglerfish. Even though the name sounds ominous, they are usually bright and colorful. Coffinfish dwell in the deep seas, around 100 feet and live on the ocean floors. A fun fact concerning this fish is that it can puff it’s body out to make it appear larger and even walk along the ocean bottom on it’s fins.
Also related to the Anglerfish, the Fangtooth carry luminescent bacteria. This bacteria resides below the skin, just under the eyes of the creature that hosts it. This glow attracts plankton; which attract minnows and both of these are a food source. The teeth are long and sharp and the stomach is able to extend in size to allow for the consumption of larger prey.
7. Basking Shark:
Whitby Sea Anglers
Also known as the Basking Shark, is the second largest living fish. It can grow up to 26 feet long on average but the largest recorded was just over 40 feet. This is a plankton eating shark; a filter eater. It has a lot of small teeth, about 100 per row; however usually feed by opening their mouths wide with their gill rakers erect. Despite it’s large size and numerous teeth, it is not aggressive and harmless to humans.
This truly scary fish is also called a Sloane Viperfish. This fish has the record for largest teeth on a fish, in comparison to the size of it’s head. This monster of a fish is only 11 inches long but it’s teeth are over half it’s overall body length! Like some of the other deep sea fish, they also have a long luminescent dorsal spine that works as a lure to draw prey in.
9. Megamouth Shark:
This Shark is one of three living species of filter eating sharks. It has also been called the Megamouth Shark and is one of the rarest sharks living. There are only 50 recorded animals sighted to date. It is thought that it can sense electrical signals from even tiny plankton. When the level of signals reaches a certain point, this would indicate that it was time to eat.
10. Giant Isopod:
This Giant Isopod is commonly found feeding on dead creatures along the bottom of the ocean floor. This animal is one of the few that many refer to as a living fossil. This is likely due to the fact that it hasn’t changed significantly in 160 billion years. When threatened they can curl their bodies up in a ball, leaving only the hard shell or exoskeleton, visible.
These beautiful creatures, sometimes referred to as Stonefish, can masterfully camouflage themselves. This is particularly frightening since they are poisonous, sometimes deadly, to humans. They have 13 spines that inject its attacker with some amount of poison that is determined by the amount of pressure put on it. The sting causes muscle weakness and even paralysis by killing tissues. Typically they live in rocky or coral environments, but can also be found on ledges or in sand. Unfortunately for the Stonefish, it is considered a delicacy in Japan and is served in finer restaurants under the name of sashimi.
Hatchetfish get their name from the hatchet shape of their bodies. Though there are varieties of hatchetfish that are common to home aquariums, this is not one of them and should not be confused with them. They have the ability to create their own light through bioluminescence, but it is located towards the bottom half of their bodies and is able to be hidden from predators. There is not much known about their mating habits or lifespans but it is thought that they have a short lifespan of only about a year.