The ocean. About 70 percent of it covers our entire planet, and it is one of the things that we have not yet fully explored as a species. In fact, we have explored the far reaches of space more than we have gone to the depths of the deepest trenches.
Because of this, we continuously discover many new species of organisms and animals that may seem to only exist in myth and our darkest nightmares; creatures that are scarier than the infamous Great White Shark.
So put your gear on and prepare to go 20,000 leagues under the sea as we countdown to the 15 terrifying things that lurk in the depths of the ocean!
Let’s dive right into the creepy and start with the Viperfish. No, this is not a kind of snake that waits for you in the corners of the deep – although the thought can be frightening. The viperfish lives so deep in the ocean that its skin and eyes are not adapted to sunlight, making it look a little bit opaque.
However, this appearance should be the least of your worries. This species of deep-water fish is so aptly named because of its razor-sharp teeth that it uses to shred its prey and a jaw that it can unhinge so that it can make more room to eat and even stockpile larger prey.
Unfortunately, the viperfish does not survive long in captivity for scientists to learn more about its habits and biology.
14. Fangtooth Fish
The Fangtooth fish gained its name because it has the largest set of sword-like teeth proportionate to its size. Not even the well-known Angler Fish can compete with this fish’s pearly whites.
While they do not grow beyond 15 centimeters, these carnivorous creatures have an appetite for prey that is larger than they are – using their teeth to catch a morsel or cling onto a larger bite to satisfy their big appetite.
Luckily, this species is not known to be dangerous to human beings, so there is nothing to be alarmed about plus the fact that they mostly thrive in the deeper regions of the ocean.
13. Northern Stargazer
Native to the waters on the eastern side of the United States, the Northern Stargazer bears a name that could lead you to believe that it is one friendly fish.
If you believe that then you are in for the surprise of your life. The Northern Stargazer has a unique way of catching its food. What it does is that it burrows itself in the sand, exposing only its eyes and a part of its mouth – a mouth lined with needle-sharp biters – which gives it the appearance of a face looking upwards to the sky.
When a prey strays into its direction, it then sends a wave of electricity to knock it out and float conveniently into its waiting mouth.
12. Black Dragonfish
With a name that sounds like an evil villain from a Martial Arts movie, the Black Dragonfish, most notably the female of the species, has an appearance that could scare even the stoutest of seafarers.
With its beady eyes jutting out of its head, the Black Dragonfish has a deadly arsenal of jagged teeth that can easily rend flesh. Akin to the Angler Fish, the Black Dragonfish also can produce its own light through bioluminescence which makes it even more difficult not to spot it in the ocean’s darkest corners.
And, interestingly enough, the Black Dragonfish begins its life close to the surface when its eggs float about until it hatches and the little ones begin to dive away from the light.
11. Barrel Eye
While not entirely frightening, the Barreleye is certainly one of the most bizarre looking that can still send a couple of chills down your spine.
Overall, the barreleye looks like any normal fish that you would encounter except that it has two upward facing eyes that enable it to spot food coming down from above as well as scan its area for nearby prey. However, this fish’s most distinctive feature is the transparent dome head that encases its eyes and the inside of its head which, in turn, has given it the nickname “spook fish.”
Named after the Greek mythological creature, the Chimera is a deep-sea species of fish that are more commonly known as “ghost sharks.”
Like so many of its deep-sea friends, little is known about the habits of the ghost shark. However, its appearance is quite enough to send you swimming back to the surface should you encounter one of them as they seem to look like a dastardly science experiment that crosses a paddlefish, a seal, and a bug-eyed shark.
9. Gulper Eel
No name in the animal kingdom is more self-descriptive than the Gulper Eels.
As fascinating as their name sounds, the Gulper Eel lives quietly in the deep as it swallows its prey whole with its extraordinarily large mouths that have earned it the nickname “Pelican eel’. Not only are these eels able to swallow large amounts of food at the same time, but their bodies are also well equipped to swallow food that larger than they are as their stomachs can expand as much as their basin-like mouths.
8. Black Swallower
It seems that there is a unifying theme of deep sea creatures swallowing food that are three times larger than they are and the Black Swallower takes the cake home by being able to devour prey that is 10 times its own size!
Also known as the Great Swallower, this fish, like so many of its underwater relatives, has a proud collection of razor sharp teeth that allow it to hold on to its prey and prevent it from swimming away, as well as a pair of wide, round eyes that allow it to see perfectly well through the inky darkness of the deep.
7. Angler Fish
With its signature sharp teeth and gaping mouth, the Angler Fish is perhaps the most popular deep sea monster that everyone would recognize. In fact, the species is so widely known that it has even made appearances in animated movies and has been referenced several times throughout pop culture.
Named after its manner of hunting food, the Angler Fish uses a special protrusion from its head, aided by the ability to bio-luminesce, as a false lure to an unwitting target. If prey happens to move anywhere near the Angler Fish’s lure, its jagged teeth-lined mouth snaps shut like a bear trap.
6. Goblin Shark
Having been discovered in recent years, there is still little known about the Goblin Shark as most of them do not survive long enough to be studied. However, with what is known about them, these monsters of the deep have earned quite a reputation from us land-dwellers.
With a paddle-like snout and teeth that seem to point out in all directions, this underwater goblin’s retractable jaws give it the ability to devour its prey in an instant; and if its dinner is a little bit out of reach, the Goblin Shark can suck in water, drawing food right into its mouth like a vacuum.
5. Sarcastic Fringehead
No, we are not making this one up. The Sarcastic Fringehead is a seemingly harmless fish that spans about a foot long.
However, when provoked or agitated, this fish opens up its extremely wide mouth to intimidate would-be predators. To give you an idea of how terrifying this looks, the Sarcastic Fringehead can be likened to Jurassic Park’s Dilophosaurus minus the venom spitting and hissing. And yes, they do have sharp teeth that they are not afraid to use.
4. Frilled Shark
One of the oldest living things to swim our oceans, the Frilled Shark dates its species back to 80 million years which is why it is considered to be a living fossil by marine biologists.
These extremely rare creatures are not really sharks but large species of eels that can grow up to 2 meters in length. Even more interesting about these creatures is that several cultures believe that these are ancestors sea monsters that terrorized the oceans in several myths and legends.
3. Giant Isopod
Generally harmless, the Giant Isopod is a massive crustacean that could grow up to two and a half feet in length. Closely resembling a pill bug, the Giant Isopod looks like a creature that crash-landed from an alien planet at first glance.
Quietly living at the bottom of the ocean, they are pretty much like their cousins the crab and lobster when it comes to diet: they are mostly scavengers and would rather eat pieces of dead animals than go out on the hunt.
2. Giant Squid
No other sea creature has been so popular in myth, legend, and popular culture than the Giant Squid.
Stories about a Kraken-like monster with giant tentacles tearing ships apart and devouring seafarers in the middle of a tempest have become a staple in many cultures. However, while the Giant Squid is indeed a giant, it is not as colossal as the myths would put it.
Up until a few years back, the Giant Squid has been an elusive creature that has never been photographed in the wild. Most of the Giant Squids that we come into contact with are corpses that have been washed ashore or have been caught in fishing nets.
But that does not discount how terrifying this cephalopod can be. These creatures can weigh up to 440 pounds and have eyes that can grow up to 10 inches in diameter. Also, after a live specimen has recently been discovered and captured in 2006, the Giant Squid has a bit of a temper and has been known to pull on people’s diving masks unprovoked.
1. Blue Ringed Octopus
We do not immediately associate octopi as dangerous or deadly compared to the creatures we have on this list. However, one species of octopus does stand out from the rest as it silently slinks and skulks in the dark.
The Blue Ringed Octopus may be less imposing and less intimidating. It may not have sharp fangs or retractable jaws but it does have one of the most potent venoms in the animal kingdom and is not afraid to use it when provoked or cornered by another animal. Their venom has no known antidote, so should a human come across one of these eight-legged creatures, a shark bite may seem less horrifying.
However, these creatures are not at all aggressive and will, like other venomous animals, give a warning signal by changing the colors on its body showing it is not happy with the situation before it actually stings anyone.