Visiting the ocean is perhaps one of the best vacation opportunities a person can take. The sound of waves crashing up on the beach, the smell of salt water, and the feel of sand between your toes are all amazing ways to relieve yourself from stress.
That being said, there’s a lot that we still don’t know about the ocean. Sure, we know about some of the creatures that live in the ocean. Some of the more commonly found ones are harmless or ones that we use in cuisine including shrimp, fish, octopi, and more. Then there are more mysterious and potentially dangerous ones like jellyfish, whales, seals, and sharks. The deep sea is largely unexplored by humanity, which means that are plenty of undiscovered creatures swimming around in the ocean.
Of those that we have discovered, though, they can be rather bizarre and creepy. Perhaps it is a product of their environment so far beneath the surface without sunlight. Perhaps the bizarreness comes from avoiding their own predators or attracting their next meal. Perhaps we are simply not used to seeing animals that aren’t coated in fur or Instagram-able. Regardless, let’s delve into the numerous bizarre creatures living in the deep waters.
25 Frilled Shark
Unlike the sharks we often hear about while surfing or during shallow scuba diving, these sharks spend a majority of their lives in deep water. Not much is known about the frilled shark because humans rarely cross paths with them, but it appears almost prehistoric and stretches to 7 feet long. They are known to swallow prey whole, and their swimming style is rather unique for a shark—because they move like an eel-like manner. They sport several rows of long, 3-pronged teeth ideal for chowing down on their prey. Their diet consists of squid, fish, and other sharks.
24 Giant Japanese Spider Crab
This is no ordinary crab. This crab can live to be nearly as old as human and its legs can span up to 15 feet. True to its name, they’re most commonly found in the Pacific Ocean near Japan and like the deeper sections of the ocean unless it’s mating season. Its body is only 15 inches long, though. The crab can use its bumpy armored shell both as protection from other animals like octopi that might want to eat them and as camouflage. The shell blends into the ocean floor very well, which might explain why they prefer it to the shallow sections of the ocean.
23 Atlantic Wolffish Pair
Named for the large teeth that jut out of its head even with a closed mouth, this fish appears aggressive. In reality, this fish is not any more violent than any other wild animal unless provoked. People often mistake them for eels because of their appearance and are even referred to as wolf eels. The fish uses its powerful jaw and protruding teeth to eat sea urchins, crabs, and large marine snails. Preferring cold water, they remain in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. In order to not freeze in such drastic temperatures, the fish’s blood has adapted to prevent exactly that.
22 Fangtooth Fish
The fangtooth fish is unlike most fish that you see near the surface of the ocean, and that’s mostly because the fangtooth spends its time in the deep sea. According to Oceana, they have been recorded at depths of over 16,000 feet—which is higher than any mountain peak in Colorado. Since it doesn’t have the capability of producing light like some other deep-sea predators, the fangtooth utilizes its sense of smell. While a ferocious predator to anything that moves in the deep-sea, the fangtooth is completely harmless to humans—especially since they only grow to be a little over half a foot long.
21 Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
Also known as the mud shark, cow shark, or bulldog shark, the bluntnose sixgill shark is rather primitive. Even though it may not appear any more scary than ordinary sharks, it is one of the biggest sharks in the whole world. They average around 16 feet long, and the largest one that humans have spotted has been nearly 1,300 pounds—which is roughly the size of a draft horse. This shark tends to live in tropical waters but may migrate to deeper water when they mature.
20 Giant Tube Worms
While giant tube worms seem like they should be something straight out of Star Wars, they live in hydrothermal vents, which receive volcanic heat and harbor rich minerals and tons of chemicals. Not only are these worms resilient, but they also don’t even require sunlight to survive thanks to the chemicals in the water. They can grow up to 8 feet long and are mostly found in the Pacific Ocean nearly 5,000 feet into the ocean. According to seasky.org, species of shrimp and crab flock to the giant tube worms, feeding off the red plumes that the worms produce.
19 Vampire Squid
This creature is also known as vampyroteuthis infernalis, which is Latin for vampire squid from hell. It is not actually a squid, but some combination of cuttlefish and octopus. Growing only to lengths of 11 inches, this small “squid” doesn’t have an ink sack. They can, however, produce glowing underwater clouds for several minutes. These guys are more long-distance swimmers than sprinters, though they can swim quickly in very short bursts if the situation requires it. As a defense, this tropical-living squid can shoot a jet of water to propel itself away from danger.
18 Pacific Viperfish
The Pacific Viperfish lives in the depths of the ocean during the day, only rising to slightly shallower water during the night to find food. This fish has a row of photophores, which are light-producing organs, on its belly. This illuminating ability attracts its prey. This creature’s long body and sharp, thin teeth are not something you would want to run into in the middle of the night or even fishing during the day. It is quite the scary sight, though eat small crustaceans and fish rather than humans.
17 Pink See-Through Fantasia
You don’t need an X-ray to see this swimming sea cucumber’s insides. Pink See-Through Fantasia is a nickname for the Enypniastes eximia, and this creature was only discovered in 2007 around 8,200 feet into the Pacific Ocean. It uses bioluminescence not for attracting prey, but as a means of defense. Not much is known about the sea cucumber since it was discovered so recently, but it makes one very grateful not to have one’s internal organs up for display. Hopefully, researchers will discover more about this see-through phenomenon.
You read that right. Not Squidward, from a certain cartoon show, but squidworm. It’s a creature that looks something like a mixture of a squid and a worm. Its body reminds one of a seahorse, and it sports a ten-tentacle head. Each tentacle can stretch out longer than the squidworm’s body itself. Two of these tentacles are how it eats while the others allow the squidworm to breathe and feel its surroundings. It lives just above the ocean floor and filters food from the mineral-rich layer of water.
15 Marrus orthocanna
This creature looks more like a bioluminescent plant with bulbs rather than a living organism. Its body is actually constructed of a gelatinous substance that is rather fragile, but that doesn’t stop it from being an intense predator. It has adjusted to the crushing pressure, scarce food, and severe temperatures in the depths of the ocean. It doesn’t have a head, but at the front of its body is a float that’s filled with gas. It also uses the plume at the opposite end of its body to ensnare predators by shooting paralyzing toxins into its prey.
14 Leafy Seadragon
Located near the southern coast of Australia, this seadragon blends in with the vegetation around them. This algae-look alike mostly eats plankton and crustaceans. With small mouths, it doesn’t so much bite as it does suck in water and its prey. It’s not the best swimmer out there, so escaping larger predators is not its forte. Instead, it relies on its camouflage ability to hide from predators. The males carry eggs under their tales and once born, the offspring don’t need a whole lot of care.
Animal Planet named this fish the ugliest animal. It looks like a pile of boogers with a nose and a frown but is actually made of a gelatinous substance that allows it to float in the water. Any other large creature would probably sink straight to the bottom of the ocean, but this guy can float around unaided thanks to its jello-like texture. Humans don’t often encounter the blobfish isn’t commonly seen by humans. It’s the epitome of a lazy creature, though, considering that it eats by floating around waiting for prey to swim by.
12 Kiwa, God of Shellfish
The Yeti of crustaceans, this shellfish is coated in spines that give it the appearance of a very fuzzy crab. The spines contain bacteria that can help detox the minerals found in the hydrothermal vents where it lives. Since these creatures are found near the bottom of the ocean where light doesn’t easily reach, the kiwa’s eyes don’t have pigment. It’s highly likely that the fuzzy crab can’t see much of anything. This particular creature isn’t something you’d want to run into on a scuba diving expedition.
11 The Claw Lobster
This creature was only discovered in 2010, and there’s something wholly unusual about it. This little crab has one long claw with teeth marks in it. Found near the Philippines, this blind lobster is very bright and rather small. Its body alone is hardly over an inch long. Having uneven claw sizes, in general, is unique, but to have one claw so distinctly larger than the other is a whole other story. Not much is known about this lobster, so we’re not even sure what the purpose of such an extraordinary claw would be used for.
10 Golden Lace Nudibranch
Surprisingly, the golden lace nudibranch isn’t the only nudibranch in its family, but it is one of the most interesting to look at. It appears as if there is lace running through this most transparent skin. The nudibranch is a carnivore and, though most are toxic, they don’t create the toxin themselves. Instead, they utilize the toxins from their prey. Often found near Hawaii, they generally live in shallow water no deeper than 80 feet deep. They tend to prefer stones and crevices for protection.
9 Pelican eel
Adeptly named for its type of mouth, this eel is also known as a gulper eel because of how much it can swallow at once. Its mouth is definitely the biggest section of it considering its long, thin body. At the tip of its body is a bioluminescent bulb used to bait fish. Since the structure of its body isn’t exactly set up for swimming well or quickly, it mostly attracts prey rather than hunting it. It ingests a substantial amount of water when it opens its mouth as a net to catch fish and other prey, so it expels the excess water through its gills.
8 Napoleon Wrasse
The Napoleon Wrasse, or Humphead Wrasse, uses coral reefs as its home and is something of a Hunchback of Notre Dame, except this fish sports its lump on its forehead. With brilliant coloring, this fish ranges from green to purplish-blue, but regardless of specific coloring, it is always dazzling. The wrasse can be either a male or female depending on what sex is required during mating. This hermaphrodite can grow up to 400 pounds and are immune to toxins from other animals like the corn-of-thorns starfish.
7 Venus Flytrap Anemone
The ocean-sister to the Venus flytrap plant, it does relatively the same thing. This anemone sits patiently, waiting for prey to swim by. When it does, the anemone’s tentacles paralyze its prey with a toxin known as nematocysts. This is pretty much how other anemone’s work, but this one looks like a Venus flytrap and is often found with bright colors. Able to live most places where conditions are favorable, this anemone can sprout anywhere from rocks to other invertebrates—researchers have even found it growing on sunken ships.
6 Faceless fish
Recently rediscovered off the deep waters of Australia, this fish doesn’t have an official name nor does it have a face. It was first found nearly 140 years ago and hasn’t been sighted since. Understandably, not much is known about this particular fish. It doesn’t have eyes but does have a mouth underneath its body. Researchers found the fish nearly 2.5 miles beneath the surface. Like many other fish that live in the darkness of the deep ocean, it has bioluminescent capabilities and perhaps doesn’t need the eyes. Though, similar to the barrel fish, it has two slits on its head that appear to be nostrils but could be eyes.
5 Megamouth Shark
As if sharks, with their ability to regrow lost teeth, need to be more bizarre or scary, this shark is a filter feeder, so its mouth is massive. Not many of these sharks have been spotted in recent human history, and they don’t stay in just one spot. Researchers have found that the megamouth will frequently switch from shallow water to the depths of the ocean and also from different the Atlantic to the Pacific and back again. Mostly, it survives off of plankton, attracting them with glowing lips.
4 Zombie Worms
These worms don’t feed on brains, as the stories would have you believe, but rather on bone. Since they’re small, only growing up to 3 inches at the most, they have to secrete acid from their skin to dissolve the bone and reveal the fat and protein trapped inside the bone. The worms carry bacteria inside their digestive tract that help them break down and digest the fat and protein. They tend to feast on whalebones but will go after any bones they can find in the ocean.
Sometimes also referred to as ghost sharks or ratfish, this fish propels itself through the water with large fins that are reminiscent of a bird flying through the air. It has cartilage rather than bone—like a shark—but doesn’t have sharp teeth in the same way a shark would. The chimaera is often found in the deep ocean water and can range from 1 foot long to 5 feet long. It grinds its meals with plates on both its upper and lower jaws, similar to a horse or rabbit.
This grumpy character is nicknamed the meanest fish in the world because not only is it poisonous, but it can also administer powerful electrical shocks to other creatures with these toxic spines. The shocks can be up to 50 volts of electricity, which means it’s capable of harming something as large as a human. It is adeptly named the stargazer because its eyes are located at the top of its head, so it appears to be constantly looking up. Most likely, this is because the stargazer spends its time buried in sand, waiting for prey to swim by their camouflaged hideout.
Much like a snake, the dragonfish has a hinged jaw that allows it to swallow prey much larger than its own head. According to the Smithsonian, it might be the only fish that humans know about with this ability. Since it lives in the depths of the ocean, it has a glowing organ known as a barbell beneath its face used to attract prey in the darkness. One of the creepiest things about this fish is that during its larvae stage of life, its eyes rest of long stalks, which retract as the fish develops.
References: popularmechanics.com, list25.com, oceana.org, seasky.org, sharksider.com, marinebio.org, eol.org, nationalgeographic.com, animalplanet.com, smithsonianmag.com