Top 5 Scary deep-sea fish

In this blog post, we will learn about “Deep-sea scary fish” and other deep-sea creatures. We will also understand their specificities and some curiosities.

The deep-sea provides harsh conditions to its inhabitants. Thus, they need to be adapted to survive, resulting in very shocking characteristics and shapes. The deep ocean is a very special environment on planet Earth.

Scary deep-sea fish

Some of the scariest deep-sea fish are listed below:

–       Frogfish/Anglerfish/Monkfish;

–       Deep-sea Dragonfish

–       Goblin Shark;

–       Blobfish;

–       Frilled Shark;

–       Viperfish.

Some species live so far below the ocean surface that they have no solar lighting. Their appearance can be very particular and even monstrous with huge eyes and big sharp teeth. Thus, some people can be scarred by them and call them monsters. Some of these fish species can generate light by housing bioluminescent bacteria.

The deep sea

The ocean is huge. Three-quarters of the planet is covered in water and it is estimated that we only know about 5% of oceanic environments. This occurs due to the access difficulty to most parts of the ocean, it is only possible with expensive well-developed equipment and well-trained scientists to access the depths.

The ocean is one of the least explored parts of the Earth. In its depths, there is a great variety of life and we are very far from its total comprehension, as we have more information about other planets than from our oceanic environments.

Abyssal areas are parts of the ocean between 4,000 and 6,000 metres deep. In this portion of the water column, light does not penetrate and may reach extremely cold temperatures.

There are places deeper than the abyssal zone. Sea caves, which can reach up to 12 kilometres deep, sea caves are exceptionally deep places where two tectonic plates converge. These are special and atypical places that shelter very weird and unique fauna.

Fish that live on the deep

The fish that inhabit the deep sea are very varied and are members of many different families. However, the harsh living conditions that exist in the deep ocean mean that they must have specific adaptations to resist and survive.

Lack of sunlight prevents the photosynthesis and growth of any plant species. The abyssal fish feed predominantly by hunting other animals. Those who do not hunt, feed on the remains of animals that live on the surface that gradually submerge reaching the great depths or parasite other animals.

The appearance of these animals often seems shocking to us. Due to the lack of light, many developed unusually horrifying eyes, others developed enormous mouths and very sharp teeth, sometimes larger than the rest of their bodies.

Also, some have developed bioluminescent organs or relationships with bioluminescent bacteria, that is, they are capable of emitting light. A usual characteristic between the deep-sea fish is a hanging lighting structure to attract their prey. However, others can light their skin to warn off predators.

Some of the scariest deep-sea fish are:

–       Frogfish/Anglerfish/Monkfish;

–       Deep-sea Dragonfish;

–       Goblin shark;

–       Blobfish;

–       Frilled Shark;

–       Viperfish.

Frogfish/Anglerfish/Monkfish

This group refers to all the members of the Anglerfish family, Antennariidae. This family owns around 200 species. Anglerfish females can reach up to 1 metre in length. However, most of the species are less than 30 centimetres long.

Some of the anglerfish have spines covering their bodies. They can detect prey movement through these spines in their skin. 

Anglerfish inhabits tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Red Sea. They are found in waters up to 550 metres deep. The anglerfish are also known as Sea devils, as their name suggests, you can imagine what they look like. 

The anglerfish are also scary due to their hunting strategy. They ambush their prey. Stand still until the prey gets close enough, and with one bite, trap it and swallow. They have expansible stomachs, thus, they can feed on animals twice their sizes. 

A famous anglerfish is the one represented in the Finding Nemo movie. It displays a bioluminescent structure hanging in front of its mouth to attract prey. Once the prey is close enough, they may snap up or start to chase it in case of an escape attempt.

Monkfish are also a type of anglerfish and members of the Lophius genus. Currently, there are 6 extant species in this genus. They inhabit the deep sea typically associated with the ocean floor. 

Monkfish species have a large head and huge mouth in relation to their body size, very sharp teeth and huge stomachs. They also have a filament, called illicium, that lights to attract their prey.

Deep-sea Dragonfish

Dragonfish is a fish genus with four recognized species. They are members of the Stomiidae family. In general, they have a very elongated and flat body. The average length of this group is between 15 and 26 centimetres in length.

The Deep-sea Dragonfish is a species that was only discovered in the 20th century. They can grow only 15 centimetres in length. Although they are very small individuals, their appearance points to an extremely brutal predator.

The most shocking characteristic is their fang-like teeth, and also the size of its mouth. Their teeth are so sharp and long that some of them cannot even close their mouths.

They are only found in the North Atlantic. However, encounters are very rare, mainly because they inhabit waters around 1,500 metres deep. The Deep-sea Dragonfish first individual found was in trawling fishing at 1,280 metres deep.

Similarly to other deep-sea creatures, they also have bioluminescent photophores, mainly on their barbel, under their chin. However, they also own many other adaptations to the deep-sea environment. Between these adaptations are:

–       Incredible neck flexibility;

–       Huge mouth with an opening angle over 100 degrees;

–       Bioluminescence to attract mates;

–       Transparent teeth;

–       Black skin colour.

Goblin shark

Another creepy creature from the deep sea is this Goblin shark. However they occupy water all around the globe, their name derives from a Japanese demon. They inhabit depths up to 1,300 metres.

Very little is known about these creatures. The Goblin shark’s skin is semi-transparent. Due to their semi-transparent skin, they show a pinkish tone. They can reach up to 4 metres long and weigh over 210 kilograms.

The Goblin shark owns a very elongated snout and fang-like teeth. The most terrifying thing about these deep-sea dwellers is their highly extendable jaws. They can instantly snap forward to capture prey. A theory to justify their elongated snout is the presence of electric sensors to detect their prey.

Blobfish

The Blobfish is among the most weird-scary-looking deep-sea creatures. They can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans in depths up to 3,000 metres. 

Their face looks melted, with a big sad nose and big mouth. However, they have this look only on the water surface. As they inhabit great depths, they handle high pressures. Thus, when they come to the surface they get this creepy-disgusting melted look. It is not known their real appearance in the deep, they were never photographed in their natural deep habitat. 

Frilled Shark

Frilled sharks are also called Lizard or Scaffold sharks. Very little is known about these horrifying sharks. However, from the information we have, they have a huge mouth with around 300 fang-like teeth.

They use their teeth to lure their prey, as their grey body is almost unseeable and their teeth are bright enough to get smaller fish and squids attention.

Their direct ancestor origin was during the Carboniferous, between 360 and 300 million years ago. Thus, they are considered living fossils. The first description made for these sharks was during the 19th century. 

Frilled sharks can grow up to 2 metres and their colour is between dark-brown and dark-grey. They inhabit waters between 50 and 1,570 metres in the Pacific and Atlantic.

These sharks eat a great variety of animals, from cephalopods to other sharks and bony fish. By controlling their buoyancy, they travel up and down in the water column to hunt.

Viperfish

The Viperfish group refers to the marine species of the genus Chauliodus. They are very rare to find once they live at depths of up to 1,520 metres. Similarly to the frilled sharks, Viperfish travel up and down in the water column to find prey. However, their strategy includes night-time travelling. They occupy deep-sea tropical waters with temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius.

They have a very large mouth, full of long needle-like transparent teeth. The viperfish can grow only up to 60 centimetres. Their skin can be greenish or silverish-black. Their skin colour and transparent teeth evolved to become unseeable to prey at the deep-sea.

They also own photophores. Thus, they can produce light to attract prey. However, this light is also used as a communication modality between conspecifics.

Conclusion

This article discussed scary deep-sea fish and other creatures. Also, general characteristics and adaptations to the deep sea were outlined and explained.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to drop us a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Scary deep-sea fish

What are the scariest deep-sea fish?

The scariest deep-sea fish are the Goblin Sharks. With their very elongated snout and fang-like teeth, they became the most terrifying creature of the deep sea.

How long can a Viperfish live?

These creepy creatures are known to live up to 40 years old. However, they do not resist being kept in captivity. Deep-sea conditions are very difficult and complex to be reproduced in a tank.

How far can Goblin sharks catapult their jaws to capture the prey?

The Goblin shark can extend their jaws around 10% of its body size. Thus, if a shark is 4 metres long, it can throw its jaws up to 40 centimetres away in a slingshot feeding behaviour.

How are the abyssal trenches formed?

The oceanic or abyssal trenches are the deepest regions of the marine environment. They are formed in areas where tectonic plates meet, especially when one of the plates dives under the other.

What do fish eat at the bottom of the deep sea?

Deep-sea fish living close to the bottom of the ocean normally prey on other fish species, squids, some nematodes and sponges. However, there are also deep-sea fish that feed on dead animal material that sinks.

How to deal with pressure in the abyssal zone?

Deep-sea animals developed many different adaptations to face the harsh conditions of the deep sea. Some of the fish are quite small, which reduces the effects of pressure on their bodies.

References 

Childress, J. J. (1995). Are there physiological and biochemical adaptations of metabolism in deep-sea animals?. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 10(1), 30-36.

Childress, J. J. (1995). Are there physiological and biochemical adaptations of metabolism in deep-sea animals?. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 10(1), 30-36.

Fishes of the deep sea – https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/the-fishes-of-the-deep-sea.html

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