The depths of the ocean are some of the most unexplored places on planet earth, so it makes sense that the creatures who call the deep sea floor home are fascinating, weird and above all creepy. Listed below are ten of the most horrible, dangerous and frankly spine-chilling critters that dwell in the darkest parts of the ocean. Seriously, some of them are the stuff of nightmares.
10. Sarcastic Fringehead
The Sarcastic Fringehead (named after my twelve year-old self) is a deep sea creature that lives off the west coast of North America. The fish grow to an average of a foot in length and have terrible tempers, which often result in ‘mouth-wrestling’ matches over turf. They’re creepy, and also really, really weird.
9. Giant Isopod
There are 20 different species of Giant Isopod. The creepy creatures are bottom dwelling, carnivorous crustaceans and can grow up to 2.5 feet in length. They’re also somewhat remarkable, in that they can go for months or even years without eating. One giant isopod in Japan went for five years without eating anything before it finally succumbed to starvation and died. Needless to say they’re pretty awesome, but I still don’t ever want to see one of these guys in person.
8. Giant Grenadier
These fish look pretty innocent, right? They’re one of the more abundant bottom dwellers, making up about 15% of deep-sea creatures. They don’t bite or sting, and they only look mildly creepy. The reason they made this list? They stink. The fish contain high levels of the compound TMA, which is found in human urine, sweat and bad breath. Imagine all of those smells combined and you’ll get a general idea of the stench of the Giant Grenadier. I hope the guy holding this one was wearing a gas mask!
Chimaeras are fish that are distantly related to sharks. They can be found in cold to temperate waters all across the world. One of their defining features is the fact that their skeleton is made out of cartilage instead of bone. Given that they mostly inhabit the deep scientists have found it difficult to isolate their diet, but it is known that they’re carnivorous and mostly snack on worms, crabs, sea stars and clams. Yum?
6. Viper Fish
The Viper Fish is one of the most fearsome predators of the deep, and for a good reason. When they get peckish they swim at high speeds at their prey and impale them with those long, razor sharp teeth. Granted, they’re fairly small and grow only to about 30 centimetres (12 inches) in size, but if you were an innocent deep-sea dweller (if there are any) you’d be terrified of encountering one of these creatures.
The Fangtooth gets its name from its long, needle-like teeth, which it uses to catch prey to great effect. While it may look menacing, it’s actually a pretty small fish, averaging only 16 centimetres (6 inches) in length. It prefers warm waters (which figures, considering it looks like it was spawned in hell) and can thus be found in the waters off Australia and other tropical regions.
4. Northern Stargazer
The Northern Stargazer strictly inhabits the waters off the east coast of the United States. These fish bury themselves in the sandy seafloor and spring out to catch prey unawares in undersea ambush attacks. If that isn’t creepy enough for you, most species of Stargazers are electric and able to deliver lethal shocks to passing prey. The name ‘Stargazer’ presumably comes from the fact that the fish have their eyes on top of their heads and are thus forever looking skyward.
3. Giant Squid
It’s the sheer enormity of this creature that makes it so creepy. The largest Giant Squid ever discovered was a full 13 metres in length and weighed almost a tonne. Given the sheer size of this weird creature you’d think that we’d come across them all the time, but in reality the giant squid is a highly mysterious animal. Most specimens that scientists are able to study wash up at sea and are found by fishermen. Despite their size the animals are effective and agile hunters and are able to catch prey from a whole 10 meters away by shooting out their two ‘feeding tentacles,’ which are lined with hundreds of suckers. Their eyes are also the size of dinner plates. The only other thing I have to say about this terrifying animal is thank God theycan’t walk on land.
2. Goblin Shark
The Goblin Shark is an extremely rare deep sea creature and is often called a ‘living fossil’ due to their dinosaur-like appearance and the fact that the species can be traced back 125 million years, making them one of the oldest sea creatures. The ancient animals are widely distributed across the globe and have been found inhabiting the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. They’re large for deep sea animals and can grow up to 4 metres in length (shudder) and weigh as much as 200kg (440 pounds). Want to know the best part? Scientists have studied the stomach contents of these sharks and determined that they must swim in both deep and shallow waters. You’re highly unlikely to come across one during your next beach vacation, but still. I’d much prefer it if these terrifying looking animals stayed as deep down in the ocean as possible!
1. Blue-Ringed Octopus
The little Blue-ringed Octopus isn’t as physically imposing as some of the other critters on this list. It has no needle-like teeth or electric shock giving ability; in fact, its vibrant blue rings are almost beautiful. This animal gets its creep factor from the fact that it’s one of the most dangerous animals in the ocean. Found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, they’re highly venomous and, when threatened, release tetrodotoxin, which is a poison that attacks the nervous system and causes death in a mere 4-6 hours. The lethal dose is just 8 micro-litres per kilo, which means that for an average sized human half a millilitre causes a horrendous death. If that isn’t creepy then I don’t know what is.