The sheer amount and variety of animals on our planet is astounding. Some have learned to live with us in our homes and in the cities and on farms. Others are rare and usually only seen in places that are relatively unreachable to people like high mountaintops or severely cold and isolated climates.
There is a whole ocean of rarely seen creatures that run the gamut in terms of appearance and sizes. Some of the following animals live deep down in the waters and rarely or never see the rays of our sun. These particular animals live in environments so drastically different than any other animals that lives above water, they almost look like aliens! Barely recognizable eyes, translucent skin, and multiple limbs are only some of the oddities that underwater creatures feature on their small or huge bodies.
Many of the following underwater creatures live in very remote areas of the globe and are rarely seen by the human eye because they live so deep in the ocean. Creatures that live so far down in the waters have no reason to come up to the shore for anything, therefore they remain a mystery to most of us.
In the following list, we see 25 pictures of underwater creatures that we just can't seem to wrap our heads around.
25 Red Lipped Batfish
The Red-Lipped Batfish is truly a unique kind of fish. While most people would assume that fish get to where they need to go by swimming, the Red-Lipped Batfish has adapted to be able to rest its fins on the ocean floor and move them as if it was walking on the bottom of the ocean! Walking isn’t the only special feature of these fish however. One of their most visible defining features are the lipstick red lips that they seem to have in a permanent pout. Don’t let these elegant red lips fool you though, the Red Lipped Batfish is an opportunistic carnivore that thankfully only consumes smaller fish, mollusks, and crustaceans (nationalgeographic).
24 Bobbit Worm
One of the many species of worms on this list, the Bobbit Worm may be one of the ones we least want to come across if we happen to be wandering across an ocean floor. Because it is an ambush predator, the Bobbit Worm catches its prey by burying its body in gravel, mud, or corals and waiting patiently until it senses prey approaching with one of its five antennas. Once the timing is right, the Bobbit Worm will attack ferociously with a quickness that is usually not attributed to worms (reefnation). One other feature that we usually don’t associate with worms? Teeth and toxins. But the Bobbit Worm has sharp teeth and injects prey with a toxin that renders can stun or even kill it.
23 Sea Angel
Sea Angels seem to look like a combination that is very eye catching because of it’s meanings. While the name Sea Angel is almost certainly a testament to the “wings” that seem to be sprouting from its back, it also has two very distinct horns that remind one of something a bit less angelic… In actuality, the two “wings” are actually feet that have evolved to look like wings and are used to move along gracefully through the waters. Sea Angels are actually slugs and this particular kind has a translucent body and are tiny- they rarely grow over 5 cm in length.
22 Giant Isopod
Looking like a creature out of an alien movie, the Giant Isopod prefers the cold waters and the sparse light of the Oceans and they can be found thousands of feet below the surface of the freezing waters in the Antarctic. Because they live in such harsh conditions, Giant Isopods have slower metabolism and limit their movements until they absolutely have to, usually to catch any food that has managed to make its way so far down which is pretty scarce (discovery). Due to the low light conditions of their habitat, Giant Isopods rely more on their antennas to guide them rather than their eyes.
21 Ribbon Eel
Ribbon eels are often found in lagoons or coastal reefs throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Ribbon Eel literally looks like a thick cut ribbon being that it is long and thin with a colorful and bright pattern all along its flat body. Since it is so thin, the Ribbon Eel likes to hide in the dark, small and narrow crevices of the reefs or rocks. The Ribbon Eel usually swims with its mouth hanging open and makes a beautiful pattern with its long body as it travels that can be mesmerizing for any diver able to spot one.
Sometimes we wonder why some creatures were given certain names, but one close up look at the Squidworm gives a strong clue. The name “Squidworm” is actually a bit misleading since technically this creature is all worm. The difference between the Squidworm and the worms we would normally think of, such as the familiar Earthworm, is that this deep sea resident has a number of long tentacles on its head that make it look like two different kinds of animals were fused together to create it (nationalgeographic). The Squidworm uses its multiple tentacles for activities such as breathing, feeling its way around the deep sea, and feeding.
Probably the most unfortunate looking creature on the list is the gelatinous Blobfish. The name is quite appropriate since without any bones or teeth, the Blobfish really doesn’t have much structure to its body or face. With features that make it look like it is in a bad mood all the time, the Blobfish floats along the sea floors of Australia and New Zealand ingesting any small creatures that happen to cross its path. Because it can’t really move and depends on the oceans currents to help it travel, the Blobfish is far from a dangerous predator, but still probably not one anyone wants to encounter (discovery).
18 Goblin Shark
Sharks in general are pretty fearsome creatures, but as far as looks go the Goblin Shark is one of the stranger looking types in the shark family. Also referred to as the “Vampire Shark” because of its preference for living in the darkness and shadows of the deep sea. Where in the globe doesn’t particularly matter since Goblin Sharks have been hauled up by fishermen in places like France, Brazil, and the Gulf of México. Wherever they are found, their unique shape is sure to make a frightening impression and makes us glad they live so deep down in the sea.
17 Barreleye Fish
The Barrelfish is another underwater creature that seems better suited for an appearance in a science fiction movie. Unlike many other fishes, the Barrelfish has a translucent head where one can easily see all of the organs. While on the one hand it offers a very clear look into the anatomy of this fish, the unfiltered inside look into their heads is a bit off putting which is probably why one of the other names of this fish is the “Spookfish” (nationalgeographic). Barrelfish usually make their homes in the deep waters off of the coast of California and the North Pacific region.
16 Christmas Tree Worm
Although it certainly does not look like any kind of worm we might think of when hearing that word, the Christmas Tree Worm is just that- a worm that lives on tropical coral reefs around the globe. They are relatively small and on average grow to about 1.5 inches in length, but they are always brightly colored which make them stand out as they cling to the coral reefs where they make their home (discovery). Since these worms are sedentary, once they find a place they like where they can withstand the tides and find enough to eat, they usually stick around for a while.
15 Armored Snail
One of the few creatures on this list that does not make its home in the sea or oceans, the Armored Snail prefers the less active waters of freshwater springs, streams- and specifically in Piney and Limestone Creeks in Limestone County, Alabama which is the only place to date that this particular type of snail has ever been spotted. The snail size reaches up to .16 inches in length so it can’t do much damage towards other creatures, but it can certainly defend itself from other creatures because of its hard shell that grows with them so that it is always protected (nationalgeographic).
One of the most fearsome, and angry, looking underwater creatures on this list, the Anglerfish stands out from other fishes because of its large, balloon like body and clearly prominent rows of jagged, sharp teeth (discovery). Because they typically live at such deep depths, usually in the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans, they rely on a built in “lure” of luminous flesh that hangs over their heads and attracts prey that is then quickly and easily snatched into their mouths. Because of their wide, round bodies the Anglerfish isn’t the fastest swimmer in the deep, but its reflective skin allows it to escape the notice of larger predators.
13 Black Swallower
Black Swallowers are more common in the deep waters of tropical and subtropical locations. The Black Swallower looks like a normal sized fish, until we get a peek at the large, protruding stomach it carries underneath it. The distended stomach is not a permanent feature of this fish however, it is another fish entirely! Because Black Swallowers have greatly distensible stomachs, they are able to swallow much bigger fishes entirely whole, bones and all, without using their sharp teeth for much other than latching onto the fish initially (discovery). Black Swallowers have been known to eat fish up to ten times its own mass and over twice its length.
The large jaws and openly visible jagged teeth on the Viperfish make it look very threatening, although this small fish usually doesn’t grow much bigger than about 12 inches. The long dorsal spine that curves along the spine is tipped with light that it flashes on and off in order to attract smaller fish. Since its fangs are so long that they do not fit in the Viperfish’s mouth, it is believed that they use their sharp teeth to impale their prey before consuming it (science-rumors). The Viperfish come in a few different colors, such as silver, black, or even green.
11 Vampire Squid
With quite an intimidating name, the Vampire Squid is typically red in color and has eight arms connected by webbing that make it look similar to a cape vampires are usually associated with. Vampire Squids usually inhabit deep oceans in tropical and temperate regions. Unlike many of the other underwater creatures that live deep in the waters, the Vampire Squid has clearly visible eyes, which can be a vibrant red or blue. Similar to other underwater creatures though, the Vampire Squid’s body is covered with light-producing organs. These can be turned on and off at will either to disorient predators or to attract potential prey.
10 Frilled Shark
The Frilled Shark looks to be another one of those creatures that seems like it was the result of an experiment that combined two different kinds of animals (nationalgeographic). Although the Frilled Shark looks very similar to other sharks in terms of its facial resemblance and needle sharp teeth, the body tends to be longer and leaner than most other sharks which give it the appearance of being an eel. Typically brown or grey, the Frilled Sharks swims along the seafloor looking to capture prey with a mouth that can open wide enough to swallow creatures half of its size.
9 Gulper Eel
One of the more bizarre looking creatures on this list, the Gulper Eel is distinctive because of its enormously large mouth which hinges open wide enough to swallow creatures much larger than itself. The body of the Gulper Eel is long and lean like most eels, but since it can swallow such large prey, the stomach is able to stretch to significant portions to accommodate digestion (seasky). The Gulper Eel has a very long tail that it uses to move around through the waters, and is tipped by a photophore- a light producing organ that is common in most underwater creatures who live in darkness to attract prey.
8 Ghost Shark
With distinctively large and gray blue colored eyes, the Ghost Shark can leave quite an impression because of how rarely it is seen by humans. The Ghost Shark lives in darkness and is usually not very large, with an average length of three feet in length (nationalgeographic). Unlike many other sharks, the Ghost Shark doesn't have hundreds of sharp teeth, instead it crushes its small prey using the mineral plates they have instead of teeth. The blue green color of its skin almost make it look translucent as it swims along the ocean floors, which gives it the appearance of gliding along like a ghost.
7 Stargazer Fish
The Stargazer Fish may not be one of the most colorful creatures on this list, but its dull brown color helps it to blend into the ocean floor more easily where it buries its entire body so completely that only its face and eyes are visible (saltstrong). The Stargazer fish may not look very threatening, especially when so much of it is buried in the sand or mud, but it can be dangerous if disturbed because it not only has two large poison spines on each pectoral fin, these spines are also capable of emitting some pretty strong and disabling electric shocks!
6 Japanese Giant Spider Crab
With the honor of being the only Crab on this list, the Japanese Giant Spider Crab is also the largest known species of crab with an average life expectancy of up to 100 years (national geographic). The Giant Spider Crab is also a master of playing defense; not only are they protected from predators by their armored exoskeletons, their bumpy exterior and color is used as camouflage to blend into the rocky ocean floor and they deliberately pick up sponges and other small animals to adorn its shell and further the illusion that they are a random rock on the ocean floor.
5 Blue Rimmed Octopus
Although there are certainly much bigger and fearsome looking octopuses in the sea, the blue Rimmed Octopus is distinctive because of its unique, bright coloring that make it stand out among many other underwater creatures. The Blue Rimmed Octopus is quite small and rarely grows larger than about eight inches long, but one of the reasons it is so fearsome is because this little creature is one of the most venomous animals in the ocean, with a bite that can cause intense and quick muscle paralysis (nationalgeographic). Once the Blue Rimmed Octopus has its prey between its teeth, it injects them with venom to easily consume whatever unlucky creature it managed to snatch.
4 Fang Toothed Fish
One of the more menacing looking fish on the list, the Fang Toothed Fish is named so because of its incredibly large mouth. The Fang Toothed Fish has such big and sharp teeth that they do not allow it to close its mouth completely which makes it look like it is always hungry and ready for its next meal. The entire fish’s body is covered with small, prickly scales which make it look even less inviting. Thankfully, since the Fang Toothed Fish usually likes to hang out in the deeper ocean waters, most people are in no danger of actually meeting one face to face.
3 Black Dragonfish
The Black Dragonfish lives up to its fierce name with an even fiercer appearance. Its mouth is permanently ajar so that their numerous sharp teeth are one of the first things we notice. Although Black Dragonfish can produce their own blue/green light similar to many other underwater creatures who live at such dark depths, they also have the powerful advantage of being able to produce light in the infrared range to provide light for themselves that most other creatures are unable to detect. The fish’s long, slender body is covered in light producing photophores which light up on command or when the fish has been threatened (futurism).
2 Red Coffinfish
In the same family as the Angler Fish and Sea Toads, the Red Coffinfish are typically found hanging out somewhere on the ocean floor. These are some of the few fish that “walk” along the ocean floor due to their leg-like fins. Much like the Angler Fish, the Red Coffinfish that live in darkness also have a lit-luring mechanism on their heads that they use to bring prey close enough to eat (nespmarine.edu.au). Their usual pose is to have one hand on a rock and one hand on the sediment in order to steady themselves against the strong ocean currents.
1 Sarcastic Fringehead
Although the Sarcastic Fringeheads may not be the largest or most fearsome looking underwater creature on this list when they keep their mouths closed, they are known for fiercely defending their small territory in a rather unexpected way (oceana.org). The Sarcastic Fringehead likes to live in burrows in the waters of places like California and México and when it perceives that its personal space has been encroached upon, whether on purpose or accidentally does not matter, it will move aggressively and upon its jaws extremely wide in order to bare it’s small, sharp teeth and sink them into anything that is unfortunate enough to have drawn too close.
References: Oceana.org; futurism.com; nespmarine.edu.au; nationalgeographic.com; discovery.com