What Lies Beneath: Five Of the Craziest Deep Sea Creatures

Kayla Mahoney

Tour Guide

Summer movie season is upon which means that, in addition to endless flicks about superheroes, we’ll get a few fantastical imaginings about oceans. Here are five crazy deep sea creatures that ACTUALLY live under the ocean.


You may remember this terrifying creature from the nightmares you had after watching her scene in Finding Nemo.

Yes, we said her.

Oh, you couldn’t tell by the picture that this is a lovely lady anglerfish? You’re not alone.

Here’s how to deduce the sex of any wild anglerfish you meet while getting your summer base tan. Only female anglerfish have that fishing rod looking pole sticking out from the middle of their face. For a while, scientists believed that there were only female anglerfish and that they reproduced asexually.

Until they got a closer look. See that little guy on the side of lady angler?

That’s her man. See, the male anglerfish is what’s known as a parasitic mate which means he cannot survive without feeding off the female.1

Sounds like a lot of my exes, amirite?

The male will bite into the female and live off of her until he starts to melt into her enough that only his testes remain to fertilize her eggs. Up to six male anglerfish can live off of one female.

So, the next time someone says “I can’t live without you,” run. They might be a male anglerfish preparing to suck you dry.

Giant Isopod

The giant isopod is more closely related to the shrimps and crabs you ate at your last seafood buffet than the bugs in your garden, but don’t go breaking out the shell crackers just yet.

These creatures have giant in their name for a reason. Some reach over two feet in length! And yes, giant isopods are carnivorous, with four sets of jaws that they use to rip and tear at their prey.2

But don’t worry. The giant isopod can go for years without eating so odds are, you’re probably safe.


Goblin Shark

This deep sea dweller is already named after a monster, and with good reason.

Imagine you’re a fish, just swimming along minding your own business, when you see this crazy creature. You try to swim away as fast as your little fins will carry you, thinking you can outswim the creep, when its JAW UNHINGES FROM ITS FACE AND SNAPS YOU IN LIKE CLAW IN A VENDING MACHINE GAME.

Yes, this shark can literally shoot out its mouth to catch prey. If that doesn’t haunt your dreams, nothing will.

Not frightened enough yet?

How big do you think these sharks can get?

Three feet?

Five feet?

HOW ABOUT TWELVE FEET?!3 These bad boys can grow bigger than two fully grown men and weigh up to 460 pounds. That’s at least two feet of jaw that want nothing more than to unhinge and gobble you up.

Vampire Squid

Another creature named after something similarly terrifying is the vampire squid. Or, if you want to call it by its scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, which translates to “the vampire squid from hell.” No, really.

With such an intimidating name you’d think the vampire squid would be the scariest creature on our list, but its name is actually pretty misleading.

For one thing, this crazy creature is not actually a squid; it’s in its own animal category with eight arms and two tentacles.4

And for another, it’s not a vampire: it doesn’t drink blood, or live forever, or sneak in and watch Kristen Stewart sleep. The vampire name comes from the cape-like appearance of the connected skin between its arms. The vampire squid uses this skin to collect food particles floating around the ocean.

Just goes to show that you can’t judge an ocean dweller by its cape.

Or name.

Or eyeball.


Yes, this is a real creature that exists and not a melted bust of Mr. Magoo.

The blobfish belongs to the equally bizarrely named fathead sculpin family.5 The blobfish spends its whole life almost completely inactive, just waiting for food to drift by so it can suck it in its blobby mouth hole. Voted one of “Earth’s Most Hideous Species,” the blobfish live for up to 100 years, since it’s basically immobile most of the time and nobody seems to want to eat it.

Basically, its ugliness helps it survive.

But unfortunately, the blobfish is in danger of extinction because of its dwindling habitat and the fact that people would rather sign petitions to save a cute panda than something that looks like an anthropomorphized giant booger.

Buy Some Goggles

The next time you’re deep sea diving, keep an eye out for these crazy creatures. It might save your life. Or a blobfish’s.

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Notes 📌

  1. National Geographic Society. (1996-2015). Anglerfish.
  2. McCarthy, E. (April 18th, 2014). Mental Floss
  3. National Geographic Society (1996-2015). Goblin Shark
  4. Oceana (2018). Cephalopods, Crustaceans, & Other Shellfish
  5. Lidz, F. (November 2015). Smithsonian

Additional Resources

  • Lidz, F. (2015, November). Behold the Blobfish. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/behold-the-blobfish-180956967/
  • McCarthy, E. (2014, April 18th). 18 Awesome Facts About Giant Isopods. http://mentalfloss.com/article/56278/18-awesome-facts-about-giant-isopods
  • National Geographic Society. (1996-2015). Anglerfish. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/group/anglerfish/
  • Oceana (2018). Cephalopods, Crustaceans, & Other Shellfish. http://oceana.org/marine-life/cephalopods-crustaceans-other-shellfish/vampire-squid
  • National Geographic Society (1996-2015). Goblin Shark. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/goblin-shark/#goblin-shark-jaw.jpg

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