More than 80% of the Earth’s oceans are unexplored, unmapped, and unobserved. However, what little we have explored has led to some strange discoveries including countless bizarre creatures that look like they were created by Salvador Dali himself. Think we are exaggerating? Kick-off your shoes, slide into a wetsuit, and get ready to meet 10 such strange yet fascinating sea creatures.
1. Titan Triggerfish
Ever seen a fish with a human-like mouth? Meet the titan triggerfish, a species of triggerfish found in lagoons and at reefs across the Indo-Pacific.
One of the largest of its species, the titan triggerfish grows up to 2.5 feet. It has a highly compressed, oval-shaped body, a large head, human-like lips, and a small but strong, jawed mouth with teeth that are made for crushing shells.
The titan triggerfish feeds on coral, tube worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins. Wary of divers, they can be especially aggressive during the reproduction season and can even attack or chase away divers who get too close to their nest.
The flatfish is exactly what its name sounds like!
Their thin, diamond or oval-shaped bodies lie flat on the seafloor. This bizarre fish has both of its eyes on the same side of its head. These protruding eyes can move independently.
Found in oceans throughout the world, the flatfish has excellent camouflaging abilities. Their unique pigment makes them light on their belly and dark on their back. They can also mimic the various colors of the ocean floor. When threatened or stalking prey, the fish expands and retracts its pigment-containing cells to quickly change color.
3. Devil scorpionfish
The devil scorpionfish, also known as the “false stonefish,” looks more like a part of a reef than an actual fish!
Found at the depths of around 230 feet in the Indian and the Pacific Ocean, this bottom-dwelling, ray-finned fish has a broad head, humped back, tapering body, and a wide mouth.
Its unique color combination of mottled grey and white with reddish-brown blotches keeps it well camouflaged among corals and stones.
A row of venomous spines runs down its back, and since the devil scorpionfish blends so well with reefs, divers and snorkelers can get stung if they accidentally touch or step on them.
I think it’s fair to say that the wolffish has a face that only a mother could love!
Native to the frigid waters of the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, the wolffish produces a natural antifreeze that keeps their blood moving smoothly even in the near-freezing water.
The largest species of wolffish can grow up to 6 feet 7 inches long, but the defining physical feature of this fish is its strong, powerful jaw with canine-like teeth that stick out of its mouth.
The nautilus, a type of mollusk and a distant cousin to octopi, squids, and cuttlefish, has long fascinated artists and scientists for its incredible beauty and swimming abilities.
The soft-bodied nautilus is protected by a hard external shell, and the shell itself has many “compartments” or closed interior chambers. The animal lives inside the largest chamber of the shell, while the other chambers act like a submarine’s ballast tanks.
Thanks to the unique design of the shell, the nautilus can create a jet propulsion that helps it thrust backward and make turns. That’s the secret behind its amazing swimming capabilities.
6. Ribbon Eel
Because of its long, thin body and high dorsal fins, the ribbon eel looks a lot like the mythical Chinese dragon, but it is actually a species of a moray eel.
Found in lagoons and reefs across the Indo-Pacific Ocean, ribbon eels are often seen sticking their heads and anterior bodies out of crevices in the sand and rubble.
Ribbon eels undergo a massive transformation over their lifetime. As protandrous hermaphrodites, they begin life as males and become females as they mature. They also change color during these phases of transition.
A juvenile ribbon eel sports a bright yellow dorsal fin that runs the entire length of its dark, black body. As it matures, the black body turns bright, electric blue. Then, the male ribbon eel grows and turns yellow as it enters its female stage. (1,2,3)
The jawfish is a family of fish that includes around 80 different species, and they are native to the warmer parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans.
Often seen sticking their heads and upper bodies out of their burrows, the yellow-headed jawfish look like they are dancing.
The jawfishes are mouthbrooders, and it’s the father that takes the responsibility of looking after the eggs. After fertilizing the eggs, the male collects them in his mouth and protects them until the eggs hatch. (1,2,3)
8. Feather Stars
Feather stars are 200-million-year-old creatures that look like they could have come out of the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.
These marine invertebrates have featherlike arms that radiate from the central body. Deemed as “living fossils,” feather stars have an incredible diversity that finds its roots deep down in the Earth’s geological past.
From the Equator to the poles, feather stars inhabit a broad geographical range, and they are found in both shallow waters and in the depths of the ocean.
9. Urechis unicinctus
Urechis unicinctus, also known as the “Chinese penis fish,” is a species of marine spoon worm.
Found in East Asia, this anatomically suggestive sea worm grows up to 10 to 30 centimeters long and is a yellowish-brown color.
10. Whitemargin Stargazer
You wouldn’t want to mess with the whitemargin stargazer!
Their double-grooved poison spines can seriously injure divers, and they also have electric organs that can discharge up to 50 volts.
As ambush predators, the whitemargin stargazer has excellent camouflaging capabilities. They can bury themselves in the sand and deliver both electric shocks and venom.
Also read: 10 Creatures Which Almost Look Unreal