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The Top 10 Creepiest Deep-Sea Creatures

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K S Lane is a student of science and is deeply passionate about educating others on her favorite topics.

The deepest parts of the earth's oceans are some of the least explored and most alien landscapes on the planet.

The deepest parts of the earth's oceans are some of the least explored and most alien landscapes on the planet.

A Countdown of the 10 Scariest Animals in the Ocean's Depths

The depths of the ocean are some of the most remote and least understood places on the planet, so it makes sense that the creatures who call the deep sea home are fascinating, weird, and—above all—creepy. The fact that they never see the light of day means that they've evolved to look quite different than their shallow-water counterparts.

Listed below are ten of the most strange-looking, horrifying, and spine-chilling critters that dwell in the darkest parts of the ocean. Seriously, some of them are the stuff of nightmares.

The sarcastic fringehead doesn't look very sarcastic about the fact that it's about to rip someone's head off.

The sarcastic fringehead doesn't look very sarcastic about the fact that it's about to rip someone's head off.

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. These 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.

Anything that looks like a rolly poly but is several feet long can't help but be incredibly creepy.

Anything that looks like a rolly poly but is several feet long can't help but be incredibly creepy.

9. Giant Isopod

There are 20 different species of giant isopod. These creepy creatures are bottom dwelling, carnivorous crustaceans that 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.

I hope this scientist from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was wearing a nose plug while handling this giant grenadier!

I hope this scientist from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was wearing a nose plug while handling this giant grenadier!

8. Giant Grenadier

These fish look pretty innocent, right? They’re one of the more abundant bottom dwellers, making up about 15% of the known deep-sea population. They don’t bite or sting, and they only look mildly creepy.

So, why did they make this list? They stink. These 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 scientist holding this one was wearing a gas mask!

This chimaera is still terrifying despite being fairly dead.

This chimaera is still terrifying despite being fairly dead.

7. Chimaera

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?

Viper fish are small but deadly. Just look at those teeth!

Viper fish are small but deadly. Just look at those teeth!

6. Viper Fish

Viper fish are among 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 their 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 small-but-deadly creatures.

The reason behind the fangtooth's name is fairly self-evident.

The reason behind the fangtooth's name is fairly self-evident.

5. Fangtooth

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 be found off the coast of Australia and other tropical regions.

Read More From Owlcation

Northern stargazers are bottom-dwelling ambush predators.

Northern stargazers are bottom-dwelling ambush predators.

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 unsuspecting prey 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.

The largest giant squid ever found was 13 metres long!

The largest giant squid ever found was 13 metres long!

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. By the way, their eyes are the size of dinner plates. The only other thing I have to say about these terrifying animals is thank God they can’t walk on land.

Goblin sharks look like they belong in another dimension!

Goblin sharks look like they belong in another dimension!

2. Goblin Shark

Goblin sharks are extremely rare deep-sea creatures that are often referred to as "living fossils" due to their dinosaur-like appearance and the fact that their species can be traced back 125 million years, making them one of the oldest sea creatures still in existence.

These 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 four 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 far down in the ocean's depths as possible!

The blue-ringed octopus doesn't look all that imposing, but it has a deadly secret weapon.

The blue-ringed octopus doesn't look all that imposing, but it has a deadly secret weapon.

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 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, they release tetrodotoxin, which attacks the nervous system and causes death in a mere four to six hours. The lethal dose is just eight micro-litres per kilo, which means that for an average-sized human, half a millilitre could easily cause a horrendous death. If that isn’t creepy, then I don’t know what is.

Has the Weirdest Creature of the Deep Yet to Be Discovered?

The deepest reaches of the sea contain a plethora of creepy critters that look like they’ve swum straight out of a horror movie. Most of these strange and nightmarish animals stick to the depths of the ocean and therefore don’t pose a threat to humans, but the ones who do venture into the shallows—like the blue-ringed octopus—can be incredibly dangerous.

And the best part? Creepy new species are being plucked from the ocean all the time. Who knows? Maybe there’s an animal even larger than the giant squid down there . . . or perhaps one that has teeth even longer and sharper than those of the fangtooth . . . Isn’t that a nice thought?

Test Your Deep-Sea Knowledge

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. How many species of giant isopod are there?
    • 35
    • 15
    • 25
    • 20
  2. What compound causes the giant grenadier to smell so bad?
    • TMA
    • HPC
    • Glutamate
    • PFR
  3. Chimaera's skeletons are unique because . . .
    • they're on the outside of their bodies.
    • they have extra strong bones.
    • they're made of cartilage.
    • they don't have one.
  4. Where are the northern stargazer's eyes?
    • On their belly
    • On the front of their head
    • On the sides of their head
    • On top of their head
  5. How many years can the goblin shark species can be traced back?
    • 150 million
    • 125 million
    • 100 million
    • 80 million
  6. How long was the longest giant squid ever found?
    • 15 metres
    • 10 metres
    • 13 metres
  7. What's the blue-ringed octopus' venom called?
    • Arsenic
    • Tetrodotoxin
    • Fluroantimonic acid
    • Tridetrotoxin

Answer Key

  1. 20
  2. TMA
  3. they're made of cartilage.
  4. On top of their head
  5. 125 million
  6. 13 metres
  7. Tetrodotoxin

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 2 correct answers: Hmmm, you need a little revision, but don't fret! No one can be an expert straight away.

If you got between 3 and 4 correct answers: Not too shabby! Brush up a little, and you'll be an expert in no time!

If you got 5 correct answers: Great work! You're on your way to becoming an underwater expert.

If you got 6 correct answers: Congrats! You know your giant grenadiers from your fangtooths.

If you got 7 correct answers: Woah! You're a deep-sea expert.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can fish detect when an earthquake is coming?

Answer: It's been found that some types of fish, like the oarfish, are extremely sensitive to minute changes in pressure, which means that they can feel tiny earthquakes that humans aren't even aware of (one to three on the Richter scale). It's possible, then, that they feel the 'before-shocks' of bigger earthquakes and know when one is coming, which is why they sometimes display unusual behaviour. If you want to know more, I've provided the links that I got my info from:

- https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10...

- https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/02/...

- https://www.livescience.com/40628-animals-predict-...

© 2018 K S Lane

Comments

Adeerwithnotlogic on August 12, 2020:

Me, being the horror fanatic i am. Absoloutley love all of them. There so weird, and bevare, that i just want one xD

I know they probably cannot be kept as pets, and i respect that. But damn! There just so cute

K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on January 29, 2018:

Thanks ata. I read somewhere that we've explored our solar system more than we have our own ocean!

ata1515 from Buffalo, New York. on January 29, 2018:

Nice read. The deep sea is an interesting place that needs to be explored!

Robert Sacchi on January 08, 2018:

Humans are the super-predator.

K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on January 08, 2018:

Very true- everything is relative. And, unfortunately, to many animals WE are the monsters.

Robert Sacchi on January 08, 2018:

I remember hearing once to a mouse a cat is a monster.

K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on January 08, 2018:

Robert Sacchi- Exactly! We've got Jaws, but in comparison to some of the creatures out there great white shark really aren't that scary.

Robert Sacchi on January 07, 2018:

Thanks for posting. Deep sea creatures are very interesting and often creepy looking. If someone is looking for an idea for a movie monster IMHO they should begin by looking at deep sea creatures.

K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on January 04, 2018:

Thanks Linda- I agree. Creepishly fascinating!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 04, 2018:

Thanks for the interesting article. The animals that you've described are certainly creepy, but they're fascinating, too. I love the first photo!

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