Mankind may have explored not more than 5 percent of the world’s oceans, but some of the things we’ve discovered in the depths are downright disturbing. Take these 20 frightening fish, for example, which are all so terrifying that you’ll be too scared to even take a bath. Y’know, just in case.
20. Common Fangtooth
We don’t know that much about the common fangtooth, but you don’t need a doctorate to see that it belongs in Satan’s aquarium. Living deep in temperate and tropical oceans, these tiny terrors only grow to 6 inches in length, yet we’d still rather not swim with them, thanks very much.
19. Goblin Shark
Found in the depths of the three biggest oceans, the aptly named goblin shark has a face only a mother could love. These nightmarish 13-foot-long monsters – which fortunately don’t pose a threat to humans – have freakishly protruding jaws that are the last things many fish ever see.
Rarely longer than 12 inches, blobfish may be harmless; but with its pink skin, protruding nose and large lips, this one looks alarmingly like a distinctly unimpressed human – and an obese one at that. Unsurprisingly, the blobfish was voted the planet’s ugliest animal in 2013.
17. Fangtooth Moray
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a nightmare worm with broken shards of glass for teeth, but it’s actually a fangtooth moray eel. Don’t poke around in eastern Atlantic burrows; chances are you’ll get bitten by one. And if you do, the eel will have to be manually removed; the bite is so extreme that the fish won’t be able to release its grip.
Found in waters worldwide, anglerfish are known for bioluminescent growths protruding from their heads that are used to attract prey. Still, despite them looking like they swim in your deepest fears and feed on your terror, they’re actually small and harmless to humans; in fact, since some people eat anglerfish, we’re more dangerous to them.
15. Pacific Black Dragonfish
Have a fear of hideous deep-sea monsters with teeth-like needles? Look away now. The female Pacific black dragonfish grows to up to 24 inches long; its male counterpart, which strangely doesn’t have any teeth – or a stomach, for that matter – is far smaller. His one purpose in life? To mate.
14. Marine Hatchetfish
Their faces resemble those of tortured souls, so it’s safe to say that marine hatchetfish look like creatures possessed. Found in the deep black waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, these fish look especially ghostly thanks to their bioluminescence, which disguises their silhouettes from predators.
13. Frilled Shark
Native to the depths of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, frilled sharks are thought to date back 95 million years, and they don’t carry their age well. These “living fossils” – which grow to up to 6 feet long – each have 300 flesh-shredding teeth across 25 rows, meaning they can digest prey over half their size. Terrifying.
12. Pacific Lamprey
Meet the pacific lamprey, a jawless eel-like fish that bores into flesh – and subsequently sucks up blood – like a power tool. This is thanks to its circular fang-filled mouth, which essentially makes it an underwater vampire. The parasitic lamprey is often found off the U.S.’ Pacific coast.
Something to think about before you stick your toes in the water: lancetfish are 6.6-foot-long fanged cannibals – yes, they eat their own species – found everywhere but the polar seas. They live so far underwater that they’re rarely seen, though – but do you really want to take the risk?
10. Atlantic Wolffish
Its bulging eyes and mouth over-spilling with teeth make the Atlantic wolffish look like a monstrous caricature. This fierce predator has jaws powerful enough to smash shellfish to smithereens, but it will, mercifully, only bite humans when provoked. So take that as a warning.
9. Long-Nosed Chimaera Fish
Given its glowing eyes like headlamps and a poisonous dorsal fin, you may be asking yourself what kind of hell this creature has swam through. The long-nosed chimaera is, however, actually found in Earth’s tropical waters – albeit as far down as 10,000 feet. And in case you’re wondering, it’s pretty good at defending itself.
Check out the deadly dentistry on the viperfish. This monster’s teeth are used to impale prey before the victims are swallowed whole. Nice. Found in deep temperate and tropical waters, viperfish typically grow to between 12 and 24 inches in length, and they can live for as long as 40 years.
7. Glasshead Barreleye
The glasshead barreleye is so creepy that it’s colloquially known as the “spook fish.” Its strangest feature is its dome-like, see-through head – though, on reflection, perhaps the fish’s glow-in-the-dark rectal pouch is even weirder. Either way, the barreleye is found in the warmer waters of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
It may have pretty colors, but anything that looks this angry should surely be avoided. The scorpionfish – which is found in Indo-Pacific waters – can be deadly to humans: its highly poisonous venom, produced in mucus form, may cause paralysis, breathing difficulties and heart failure. One to avoid, then.
Can you think of anything scarier than a 23-foot-long ray with a power tool for a face? Introducing the sawfish, which slashes its prey with its super-spiky rostrum – the reason why it’s also known as the carpenter shark. This badboy can be found in Indo-Pacific and Atlantic coastal areas, so watch out if you go for a paddle.
4. Highfin Lizardfish
Ever wondered what a deep-sea zombie alligator looks like? The highfin lizardfish grows to a length of 31 inches, and while it won’t be eating people anytime soon, its barb-toothed face might eat your dreams and give you nightmares. This looker will eat pretty much anything else, too – including its own type – in its deep-sea habitat.
3. Cookiecutter Shark
No, they’re not pumpkins carved into the shape of serial killers; these monstrosities are cookiecutter sharks. They only reach 22 inches in length, but these mini beasts – which are found across the world’s warm oceans – can slice round chunks of flesh from anything they sink their teeth into, including the occasional human.
2. Northern Stargazer
Contrarily found off the U.S.’ east coast, the horror that is the northern stargazer isn’t quite as whimsical as it sounds. Hiding its hideousness under the sand, this abomination stares upwards with its death mask face looking for prey. And if a human gets in its way it’ll give them a light electric shock.
1. Sarcastic Fringehead
With its huge colored mouth, the sarcastic fringehead bears more than a passing resemblance to Mohawk from Gremlins. It’s aggressive by nature, too; growing to up to 12 inches long and found off the coast of California, the fringehead will often fight other fish – and sometimes divers – for territory. And that really is the lowest form of wit.