The ocean: home to adorable seals, friendly dolphins, smiling orcas, and eye-wateringly cute sea otters. Plunge a little deeper, however, and things get very sinister, very quickly. We scour the darkest depths of the world’s oceans to bring you creatures which shouldn’t exist outside of your nightmares… but do! From the hideous goblin shark, to the terrifying menace that is the giant long-armed squid, you might have a hard time nodding off tonight.
The Long-Armed Squid
Bearing a striking resemblance to those weird death machines from Mass Effect 3, the distinguishing feature of these creepy squids are their bus-length arms, which (it is thought) sweep along the ocean floor kicking up poor, unsuspecting creatures. Very little is known about this squid, given that they lurk as deep as 4,735 metres below (in fact, very little is known about any deep-sea squid), and the star of this spine-chilling video might not even be fully grown. Eek!
The Frilled Shark
This bizarre, snake-like shark is found throughout the world and grows to around two metres long. Looking like the ancient ‘sea serpent’ legends of yesteryear, this creature could’ve swum straight out of the pages of an ancient Greek myth. The predator is a ferocious hunter, and its jaws unhinge so it can swallow prey over half its size! That’s quite an appetite! We reckon it’s comfort eating, because it’s misunderstood and very, very sad. With a face like that, who can blame it?
The Goblin Shark
Staying with the sharks for a bit, this creature won’t be winning ocean beauty pageants any time soon! Growing to 3m in length, the goblin shark is the only living genus of the Mitsukurina (an ancient branch of primordial sharks). It’s pretty dark at depths around 250m, so their nightmarish noses are incredibly sensitive and detect electrical signals given off by their prey. And just to make it even more sinister, their jaws are protusible, meaning they can be pushed out to allow even more room for gobbling up their victims. Delightful!
And just when we thought it was impossible to get any uglier than the goblin shark, along swims the fangtooth (also called the ‘ogrefish’), which looks every bit as cuddly as its name suggests. Despite it being small (18cm), you wouldn’t want to mess with this little guy: its armor-plated body and sharp teeth make the fangtooth a murderous predator. In fact, its bottom two teeth are so long that when their jaws are shut they have to fit into special sheathes either side of the fish’s (tiny) brain to avoid impaling it. That wouldn’t be a nice way to go!
What is it with these deep-sea fish and freaky jaws? Do they all go to the same plastic-surgeon? The pelican eel’s mouth is much larger than its metre-long body, and is loosely hinged, meaning it can be opened so wide that it can swallow prey far larger than itself. Very little is known about this bizarre critter (which is actually a fish), and only a few turn up in fishing nets each year. For example, it has a strange organ on its tail with numerous tentacles, and which alternates between glowing pink and flashing red. Whilst many think it’s used to attract prey, we reckon it just wants some attention. You heard it here first, marine biologists.
Proving that ‘ugly’ isn’t just confined to the oceans depths, the bizarrely named sarcastic fringehead is a fiercely territorial fish found along the Pacific coasts. Their bodies are highly compressible, meaning they can fit into shells and crevices to ambush their prey. When they fight each other (2:15 in the video), their fringes flare out to resemble the Predator. We reckon Schwarzenegger would have a much easier time defeating this aquatic monster, although he’d still probably find an excuse to blow the whole reef to smithereens.
The Japanese Spider Crab
This gigantic crab is found along the Japanese coast, and the unwieldy arms on male specimens can grow even taller than an average human! So much about this crab is distressing; we don’t even know where to start. We guess it’d make plenty of California rolls though, and that’s never a bad thing.
We’re not sure whether to find this strange fish freaky or just plain adorable. The spotted handfish is a critically endangered creature found along the Tasmanian coast. Swimming is just not its thing (ugh, that’s soooo mainstream), so this little critter has developed strange hand-like fins and walks along the sea floor looking for tasty shrimps and amphipods. Watch the tiny guy in action, doing his best supermodel catwalk strut. Work it!