Witch eels, plate fish, wobbegongs. No, those aren’t make-believe species; they’re real fish swimming in the deep, dark ocean! Turns out, there’s a spookier side to ocean life than we once believed. These “creatures” are not make-believe, they are real and they are swimming amongst us, just a few thousands feet deep.
Courtesy of a deep-sea fisherman from Russia, these photos amaze, scare and ignite the imagination. Personally, I think the Stoplight Loose-Jaw is the most fear-inducing of all of them.
It looks creepily like an eel but the Frilled Shark is most definitely a shark. It has a wide head complimented by a huge mouth. This species of shark is considered “living fossils” because they look very similar to their prehistoric ancestors that swam in the planet’s seas eighty million years ago.
This next fish is known for its textured back…
Don’t worry, the imprint on this fish’s back is not a shoeprint. The Remora, sometimes referred to as sharksucker or suckerfish, got its moniker from being known to attach themselves to boats, large animals, and even divers.
This upcoming fish looks more like a serving platter than a fish…
The Plate fish has an extremely flattened body, unlike most fish in the sea. The left side is usually facing upward, and the right side is facing the floor. You may find this silly-looking, but both of its eyes are on one side, and it has short, thick stalks.
This next sea creature’s name might be the wildest thing about it…
Unlike other shark species, Wobbegongs are bottom-dwelling and prefer to rest on the ocean floor. They are rarely active and like staying in one spot most of the time.
Think we forgot to mention smaller fish? Think again…
Nettastomatidae, the duckbill eels, or witch eels, are found in the continental slopes of tropical oceans. They feed on invertebrates and smaller fish. They are slender and reach up to almost five feet in length. Duckbill Eels have narrow heads and large and toothy mouths.
Be careful about running into this next creature…
These small, deep-sea dragonfish are found anywhere outside the Arctic and Subantarctic, below a depth of 500 meters. This genus previously had three species: M. niger, M. choristodactylus, and M. danae.
This next fish looks like something from another planet…
Those lumps are not scales! Strange, but those are made from bony tubercles. Lumpsuckers are known for their strong sucking disk formed from the pelvic fins, and they are usually green in color.
The Atlantic wolffish is a dying breed thanks to overfishing. They produce a natural antifreeze that keeps their blood flowing despite below zero temperatures. What about those wild teeth?
Don’t mistake this next fish for an angelfish!
If you have watched Pixar’s Finding Nemo, then you know what anglerfish look like. Sadly, these fish look even scarier in real life. They are bony creatures that use their fin ray to lure other fish.
This next fish looks like a skeleton…
Chimaeras are also known as ghost sharks, ratfish, spookfish, or rabbitfish. They used to belong to a diverse group of sharks and rays with their last common ancestor living nearly a million years ago.
This next fish has extremely sharp teeth…
The black scabbardfish is a deep-water predator that lives in depths between 180 to 1,700 meters. Their black outer layers blend in with dark water, making them predators of many other types of fish.
Ready for a cuter fish? Keep clicking…
Toadfish have flattened heads and large mouths filled with strong teeth. They are pretty small, though! They grow up to 40 centimeters and are known for either being scaleless or having small scales.
Ever think a fish could have an extremely long nose? Check out this next species…
The blackmouth catshark is commonly found in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. That means they generally originate from Iceland to Senegal, including some areas in the Mediterranean Sea.
This next species has extremely wide eyes…
The Macrourus have large, wide heads with snouts varying from rounded to bluntly pointed, and it has a significant amount of spine-like scales at its tip. They also have small teeth and a serrated spiny dorsal fin ray.
Talk about pretty fins, as this next fish has…
The deepwater redfish, or the beaked redfish, reaches a size of 70 centimeters and lives in the North Atlantic. They occupy depths between 300 to 1,000 meters and love staring far off the bottom.
The following fish is not only scary but extremely large…
The sunfish, or mola, is one of the heaviest known bony fish in the world. An adult typically weighs between 247 to 1,000 kilograms and is native to tropical areas.
This type of stingray is not what you’ll expect…
Stingrays look like flattened sharks. Although they look tough, these rays do not have bones in their bodies. Instead, their skeleton is made up of cartilage.
Scared of sharks? Wait until you see this one…
This long, lanky shark species has a small tail fin. They have two spines that run along their back that contain venom, which they use to protect themselves from predators.
This next fish is not the Dory from Finding Nemo…
Despite most of the fish being inedible, the John Dory can be eaten. They usually have an olive-yellow body with one large dark spot which comes in handy if they find themselves in dangerous situations.
The following species has quite a cool name…
Cookie Cutter Shark
The cookie cutter shark is a parasite. It uses its sharp, pointed teeth (found in its upper jaw) to latch on the skin of a bigger fish and subtly scoop out a small chunk of flesh.
This next fish has a Hollywood nickname…
Here is pictured “Aquaman,” a fish the photographer caught in the Barents Sea. “Aquaman actually looks very different from [sic] Hollywood is trying to show us!” he writes.
If you enjoy spooky sea creatures, this next one’s for you…
“I often have to repeat that humans are not part of the shark’s food chain,” he writes, joking that sharks would much rather feast on fish, not humans who have greasy hands and protruding livers. So, although this fish looks scary, fear not!
Speckled and toothy, the following fish species is quite the catch…
One of the coolest things about this fish, the fisherman pointed out, is that it changes its teeth once each year, usually during the winter. During the month the fish is changing teeth, it does not usually eat!
The next species is particularly beautiful…
This shrimp, despite its sharp little claws, is pretty cute. The fisherman joked for viewers not to guess whether or not he ate it!
Continuing onto another red fish, this following species is sure to make your jaw drop…
This fish does not look happy, particularly because it looks like it’s sticking its tongue out. But, its red fins and scales surely make it a beautiful breed.
Do you like baby animals? If you do, then you will definitely think this next fish is adorable!
Although this tiny fish hardly looks like a stingray, that’s exactly what it is. And, our fisherman explains that one of the closest ocean relatives of the stingray is the shark. Surprising, right?
Talk about a work of wonder, this next species will blow your mind with its design…
This fish apparently resembles living snakes. It also avoids sunlight by hiding under stones on the ocean floor. To us it looks similar to tree roots, which might be why it’s so good at hiding among other plants and ocean species.
Have you ever seen an ocean species that looked like a brain? Keep clicking…
With a texture orange-brown outer later, this sea creature is dubbed a sea anemone, although our Russian fisherman admits he is unsure exactly what this species is called. Perhaps a good nickname would include “brain” in it?
Ready for a fish with a funny nickname? This next one is guaranteed to make you giggle…
We’ve nicknamed this little guy “Smokey Fish,” mainly due to the fisherman’s funny caption that reads: “In 2019 I gave up smoking! What was in [sic] 2019 unforgettable for you?”
We promise this next fish is an underwater species, not an edible dessert…
Cookie Cutter Starfish
Yes, these two tiny stars are real starfish, our fisherman tells us! He believes they look like cookies, and we could not agree more!
Get ready to be shocked by the following fish’s suction…
Perhaps the most notable feature of this Pinagor is its disc-shaped suction, where it can attach to ocean-floor stones. Indeed, like our favorite fisherman says, this fish is a sucker!
This next fish has quite the bump on his head…
Either this Haddock bumped his head or he just has a massive lump growing out of his head. Either way, we think this fish was creepy enough to make our list!
Despite this next fish’s name, it does not moo…
Our fisherman explains the reason this fish is nicknamed the cow fish is because of its tiny horns on the back of its head. When not referred to as a cow fish, this species is also called the sea dragon or the astrologer.
The following fish puts Flotsam and Jetsam to shame…
This little eel is super adorable and has multiple nicknames, including blue ribbon eel, Bernie eel, and moray eel. According to the fisherman’s Instagram caption, this eel spends most of his time hiding in coral, caves, and tiny cracks to hide from predators.
Some people enjoy keeping this next species as a pet…
More cute than creepy, this tiny hermit crab is a perfect companion to many other sea creatures. Anemones, for one, enjoy attaching to the crab’s shell until they are transported to where they can get food.
Yet another other-worldly sea creature is…
The Russian fisherman nicknames this cuttlefish an alien, mainly for its unique, yet odd shape. “The feeling of the alien origin of this sea inhabitant is off the charts,” he writes.
The following under-the-sea species is named after a squirrel’s favorite snack…
Ever heard of a sea acorn? This little sea creature gets the nickname from the shape of its shell. If you watch it unravel out of its shell, you’ll see its shell opens and closes just like an acorn would.
This next sea creature might look more like a dinosaur than anything else at first glance…
Dugong Sea Maiden
The Dugong Sea Maiden looks other-worldly from the front, but once you see it swim, you’ll see it shares plenty of similarities with whales and other large marine life. Despite having no visible ears, apparently Dugong Sea Maidens hear better than they see.
For the next species on our list, we’ve included something tiny…
Name Bokoplavs, these tiny creatures are crayfish. “Not dangerous, not edible, just beautiful,” says the fisherman.
This next species looks more like a toy than a fish…
Our Russian fisherman refers to this species as a “toy from the bottom of the sea,” and we couldn’t agree more with that comparison. After all, this glob hardly looks like a sea creature!
“Would you buy such beauty if you saw it on the counter? I think not!” the fisherman writes of the makrurus fish.
This next fish doesn’t have such bubbly eyes…
Sea Lice/ Sea Cucumbers
“Sea cucumbers look like plants that really wanted to become animals…and their dream came true,” reads this Instagram caption. These creepy, crawly fish are relatives to starfish and sea urchins, even though they look quite different.
The next species encompasses every color of the rainbow…
Mantis Shrimp / Praying Mantis Shrimp
Steer clear of this shrimp, despite how cute and colorful he looks. According to the caption, this Praying Mantis Shrimp can be extremely dangerous, especially because they move around a lot in order to catch prey.
Don’t get too spooked by this next fish…
No, this creature isn’t a ghost from The Nightmare Before Christmas; it’s actually a squid! Fun fact: the Russian fisherman explains that when these squids eat food, the food first goes through the esophagus, brain and liver before entering the stomach.
This is a crustacean that has a “leathery leg” and a “bone head” to form one complete body. These crustaceans tend to find spots to hide, like under rocks, so they can start to grow their shell.
This next sea creature looks more like something you’d see on land…
According to the Instagram caption, marine iguanas can only be found in the Galapagos Islands. Although they spend most of their time on land, these iguanas can be underwater for up to one hour.
Watch out for the jaws of life on this next creature…
This sea creature looks like something straight from a sci-fi movie, but it is a real-life, living species. Notice how all the layers of teeth grow back into the jaw. You’d definitely not want to run into this guy!
Yet another fish to steer clear from is the following…
Even though these toothy creatures look scary, they are fairly small in size. Anglerfish only swim in the deepest depths of the sea, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see one on a trip to the beach.
You can catch these next fish hiding in the sandy floors of the ocean…
Lyre Fish/ Sea Mice
Lyre fish spend a lot of their time hiding on the bottom of the sea floor, particularly because of their brightly colored bodies.