(Images via: Animal Pictures Archive, It’s Nature, Photo Bucket, It’s Nature, PBS)
With the endless run of horror movies, spook houses, candy, pumpkin seeds and other perks, Halloween is about as good as it gets in terms of a holiday that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Now just don’t think that Halloween is for little kids and “adults” like me who may still be considered children. The deep sea has its fair share of scary creatures who were made for this day and are sure to send a chill down the spine. In celebration of the 31 days of October, here are 31 deep sea monsters — some quite large and intimidating, others much smaller but equally or even more dangerous — that could have starred in the B-rate horror flicks getting major play today. For all you ghosts and goblins and trick or treaters out there, enjoy learning about these freaky creatures while having a safe Halloween.
Don’t Swim in the Deep Sea
(Images via: Deep Sea Anglerfish, China Sea, Star Bulletin, Nette Key If)
Let’s begin our journey of the sea monsters that inhabit the mysterious, cold waters of the oceans, beginning with the deep sea anglerfish in the upper left-hand corner and eventually swimming our way to the fangtooth in the lower left-hand corner. Looking as if it was just shot out of the fiery gates of hell, the small but vicious deep sea anglerfish is also known as the common black devil, which makes sense considering that it deceptively uses the appendage at the top of its head to emit a blue/green light for luring prey into its big mouth. Another ferocious predator despite its diminutive size, the deep sea dragonfish is known for its large, hinged teeth while the longer and slender, female black dragonfish also produces its own light in addition to possessing fang-like teeth that would make Dracula jealous. Speaking of dangerous teeth, the appropriately-named fangtooth features the largest teeth of any fish in the ocean in proportion to its size, and is also known as the “ogrefish” or common sabrefish. No word if this fangtooth wants to suck your blood, but for other fish in the ocean, look out when crossing this bully.
Danger, Danger: Beware of the Bright Shining Lights
(Images via: Wolaver, Sreeh, It’s Nature)
Just as heeding the call of the Sirens was a bad idea in Greek mythology, the same goes for being drawn to the bright lights in the deep sea. Many other scary fish are capable of producing their own light (a process known as bioluminescence) to either distract predators or tempt prey. With the pale apparition of a ghost, the one-to-six inch hatchetfish not only produces light to hide from predators but resembles the blade of…you guessed it…a hatchet, the preferred weapon of Lizzy Borden. As for the Lanternfish, they emit light to attract smaller fish to feed on, and judging by their bright, blue eyes, they may also have telekinetic powers. Last but not least, the small predator fish known as lizardfish may not be the brightest bulb in this bunch, but they certainly make up for it with mouths and even tongues that are comprised of sharp needles rather than teeth. Like a zombie reaching its hand through the ground, the lizardfish sit on the bottom of ocean floor and wait for prey to swim by before ambushing them with their powerful jaws.
The Deadly Bite of the Viperfish
(Images via: Ibiblio, Sumedh, Neat-O-Rama)
What do you get when you combine the fang-like teeth of a vampire with the breakneck speed of a werewolf? The viperfish, of course. Viperfish fangs are so large that they don’t fit in the fish’s mouth but rather curve back to the eyes. Lucky for the viperfish, it avoids poking its eyes out; however, for smaller prey, they are not so lucky. Swimming at its victims at high speeds, the viperfish is believed to impale its competition before feeding on them. So not only does the viperfish act like 80s slasher star Jason Voorhees but it looks like the Camp Crystal Lake favorite without the hockey mask, as evident by the picture in the upper right-hand corner.
Some Deep Sea Monsters Are Just So Disgusting
(Images via: Lazy Lizard Tales, Kusawake, Island Environment Blog, Cute and Weird)
Remember the cute but oh so messy Slimer from Ghostbusters? The Atlantic hagfish is the “Slimer” of deep sea monsters. Looking like an eel but not an eel, the hagfish sneezes slime that contains strong fibers and is thus difficult to remove. Furthermore, the hagfish can emit enough slime to fill a milk jug. At least the hagfish isn’t the bizarre and depressed blobfish, with its large nose, two eyes and sad expression that can make residing in the saltwater coasts of Tasmania and Australia a real downer. Once thought to be extinct, the prehistoric coelacanth is actually still alive, although it is worthless to eat since its tissues spew oil and a nasty odor following death. Speaking of foul smells, the giant grenadier fish is not only known for its giant mouth but a smelly chemical compound that would make Peanuts’ Pigpen embarrassed. And to cap it off, these slow-as-molasses grenadiers love to feed on smelly carcasses. Makes sense, you think?
Night of the Living Dead Fish
(Images via: Vanaqua, Dave Harasti, Flickr, Mex Fish)
Appropriately-named given the theme of this Halloween-related post, the bottom dwelling coffin fish features fins that act like legs and allow it to crawl and walk on the bottom of the sea floor. In a similar light, the rare Australian fish known as the spotted handfish features pectoral fins that act like hands for deep sea walking. As long as these day and night walkers don’t start talking and clamoring for “Brains” like zombies, things should be all good. Speaking of brains, the eyes of stargazers are located near their brains, on top of their heads to be more precise. This may be hard to tell with the above stargazing monster buried in the sand, but is more apparent with the land-based example of this fish. In addition to the weirdly-positioned eyes, stargazers are venomous, with two large poison spines behind the opercle (the upper bone that helps form the gill) and above their pectoral fins. Even more shocking, stargazers can cause electrical shocks, making it very irresponsible for other fish to have their attention diverted to the heavens when a stargazer is around.
Certainly Not James Woods’ Short-Lived TV Series “Shark”
(Images via: Fun Is 2 Cool, UFL, Bog Leech, Supiri)
A list of deep sea monsters would be lacking without the “Jaws” of the sea. While we all know about great white and hammerhead sharks, don’t sleep on the megamouth shark and sixgill shark. Not discovered until 1976, the rare megamouth shark is a mystery, with its large mouth and small teeth, rounded snout that makes it look like an orca whale, and luminous photophores around the mouth. Like the megamouth shark, the sixgill shark can reach up to 18 feet in length, but is distinctive in that it has six rather than five gills and only one dorsal fin (located closer to its tail). A close relative to sharks, chimaeras are kind of what you think sharks would look like in hell. Judging by the bottom images of the fiery red chimaera and the long-nosed chimaera, it’s not wonder these deep sea creatures are also referred to as ratfishes and ghost sharks.
Getting Overwhelmed by Other Sea Giants
(Images via: Fish Govt., Shnock, Pixdaus, One Inch Punch)
When you can reach up to 60 feet in size like the colossal or giant squid, you don’t need any extra advantages. Yet the world’s largest invertebrates grip prey with sucker rings on the ends of their limbs, which also feature sharp hooks for good measure. The only known enemy of the giant squid is the mammoth sperm whale, with males reaching 60 feet and weighing 40-50 tons. It is believed that sperm whales are able to feed on colossal squid because of a dark, waxy substance similar to cholesterol (called ambergis) that is produced in their lower intestines and protects them from squid stings. Now just how tough and intimidating are sperm whales? They’ve been documented attacking and feeding off the mammoth and elusive megamouth shark.
Scaring (and Gripping) the Life Out of Me
(Images via: MLML, What’s the Crack,Flickr, Aqua Views)
If there’s one thing that holds true with deep sea monsters, it’s that size does not always the matter. Only three inches long, the firefly squid is able to flash blue lights on and off, attracting smaller fish and then attacking them with their strong tentacles. Similarly, Dana octopus squid feature glowing arms that lure, stun and blind prey. Once mistaken by researchers to be an octopus, the six-inch vampire squid is equipped with eight arms that can be used like a webbed cape and thrown over its body for protection. Within this webbing are two jaws that are strong enough to crack the shells of crustaceans. Only the size of a golf ball, the blue-ringed octopus is extremely poisonous and capable of killing a human in minutes. Unfortunately, this octopus does not make its blue rings apparent until its ready to attack, putting unknowing humans and prey in danger, especially when considering that there is no known antidote to this poison.
A Creepy Feel for These Eels
(Images via: Flickr, Alloom, Flickr Weird Sea Monsters)
Talk about a deep sea monster that looks like a scientific experiment gone madly wrong, the gulper eel will make you gulp with its abnormally large mouth that is much larger than its body. With 750 vertebrae in its spine, the snipe eel has more vertebrae than any other animal on Earth in its five-foot long body, which is 75 times more long than wide. Adding to the creepiness of the snipe eel, its anus is located on its throat. Rarely seen, the oarfish looks like a mythological sea serpent even though it isn’t one (despite what its 36 foot length may tell you otherwise).
Rounding Out Our Deep Sea Monsters
(Images via: It’s Nature, Flickr, Flickr, Reef Suckers)
How the tables have turned. Small sunfish are often caught in our lakes, but in the ocean, specific types of sunfish called molas can reach up to 600 pounds. As rare as catching these fish are, equally weird is the fact that molas look like they’ve been chopped in half. Despite dwelling at the bottom of the sea, wing-like sea robins look like birds in flight as they swim, specifically because of large pectoral fins that open and close akin to a flying motion. While in the same family of shrimps and crabs, the relatively large giant isopod ranges from 12 to 16 inches in length and is a bit unsettling to look at even for a scavenger, particularly due to its deep sea gigantism and resemblance to an “Alien vs. Predator” creature. Also inhabiting the ocean floor, sea cucumbers are in the same classification of starfish and sea urchins. Now if you get a sea cucumber when trick or treating, give it back as they are equivalent to eating a very bad fruit. For more information on deep sea monsters, visit the highly informational and interactive Web site, SeaSky.