Friday, July 26, 2019

12 Horrifying, Unbelievable Sea Creatures to Use in Your Writing

I'm currently in the middle of writing an underwater sci-fi story and wow. I've turned up some pretty interesting things during my research.

And by "interesting" I mostly mean weird and kind of horrifying.

So who wants to learn about some bizarre/scary ocean creatures? You can use them in any of your water-based stories. Or even slap some legs/wings onto them and put them in a land or sky-based story.

12 Horrifying, Unbelievable Sea Creatures to Use in Your Writing

Warning: This post does have pictures and some of these things do look legitimately creepy. However, most of them are from the deep sea, so unless you own a submarine I think you'll be safe. 

1. Dragonfish

These deep sea fish are generally only about 6 inches long. Not too scary, right? Right. Unless you happen to be a tiny 3 inch fish, then you'll never see it coming. This fish has a little light that dangles beneath it's chin to lure in fish. Because dragonfish are so dark in color, its prey only see the light, not the hunter. Or its giant teeth. Fun fact: The dragonfish's stomach has black lining so that if they swallow a fish that is bioluminescent itself, the dragonfish's stomach won't start glowing, thus giving away it's location.

Make this fish 6 feet long instead of 6 inches and you've got an awesome fantasy/sci-fi monster on your hands. 

2. Barreleye 

Guys. This thing is weird. It literally has a transparent head. And also looks very depressed:

Baby, who hurt you?
It got its name because it's bright green eyes are tube-shaped and change locations depending on where the fish wants to look. Usually, their eyes are pointed straight up, but they can move to look forward, too. Also, they don't eat their prey. They just....engulf them.

It honestly looks like a semi-transparent depressed submarine fish and I'm kind of in love.

3. Diablo Rojo

AKA: The humboldt squid. These squid are usually about five feet long, but have been known to reach eight feet and 100 pounds. These squid are vicious carnivores (and sometimes even cannibals) that flash red when they're hunting and killing their prey (red works as underwater camouflage). They have been known to attack humans, though generally only when they're provoked.

I know sharks are often the featured animal in horror or adventure films, but honestly? Being attacked by a red squid with a giant, sharp beak and suction-like limbs is just as terrifying to me. 

4. Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait

These sea snakes have a paddle-like tail and debilitating, sometimes fatal, venom.

Also, they eat moray eels. Which is probably only notable to me because moray eels creep me out, so learning that there's a demon water snake that eats the thing I thought was scary is...a little traumatic. 

5. Fire Coral

For anyone who isn't familiar: Coral is painful. It's very sharp and can cut you to shreds. But fire coral takes this to the next level. It's basically a mix of coral and jelly fish: If you accidentally come into contact with it, you will end up having that area of your skin burning for the next few days. Luckily, fire coral doesn't really move and can't attack you, so just stay away from it and you'll be fine. 

Unless, of course, you want to write a story where fire coral has legs and can hunt things, in which case: That sound awesome. Do it. 

6. Frilled Shark not like these. They're basically a mix of a shark and an eel. They're about six feet long, live in the deep sea, and have been termed living fossils because, well....Look at it:

Even though it's called a shark, it moves in a serpentine/eel-like fashion. They have an inordinate amount of teeth and like to eat squid. 

Or maybe humans. I mean, sure, there's no evidence that they eat humans, but we don't really live in the same area, so how do we know for sure? They look like something that would eat a dumb character who swims too far away from their submarine. 

7. Northern Stargazer

This is a pretty chill name for a fish that has the face of a satan-worshipping gargoyle.

It camoflagues itself by digging into the ocean floor where it waits for fish to swim over it. Because they're eyes are on the top of their head, this fish can easily see its prey. When a target swims by, it emits an electric shock and swallows its meal whole. 

8. Giant isopod 

So this one isn't dangerous, it's just really, really weird. They basically look like underwater rolly-pollies, except they're about fifteen inches long and are usually lilac or pale pink in color. They are, apparently, a result of deep sea gigantism, a phenomena that explains why deep sea creatures are often way larger than their surface-dwelling counterparts (think giant squid).

They also have very, very reflective eyes. Which isn't really important, it's just weird and I had to mention it.

9. Sea spiders

Are you afraid of the ocean? Are you afraid of spiders? Then allow me to introduce you to your newest nightmare.

Sea spiders, especially the ones in the deep sea, can grow up to 2 feet long (though there are species that are less than half an inch). Many of them have proboscis that allow them to suck liquid from their prey. 

Yup. You know how giant spiders always end up in some kind of forest in a fantasy novel? These would be the monsters that frequently show up in underwater novels (if underwater stories were more common). 

10. Pelican eel

This one is a big fat nope for me. 

Why? Why does this exist? Its mouth is bigger than its entire body and that is not okay. They are about two and a half feet long and apparently their teeth aren't very big. As if that's supposed to make me feel better.

11. Stygiomedusa 

This guy is a giant deep sea jelly fish. And by giant I mean 33 feet long, making it one of the largest invertebrate predators in the ocean. It's tentacles don't sting like most jelly fish. Rather, they work as giant arms to trap and eat their prey. 

I mean, sure. They only really eat plankton and small fish, but, uh. What if they suddenly get a taste for human flesh?? 

12. Giant Squid

How giant are we talking? About 40 feet. And their eyes are about 11 inches in diameter. [insert screaming emoji here] One of their only natural predators is the sperm whale....Which is why sperm whales often have circular scars all over them.

I had a hard time finding a picture of a giant squid, so
here's a sort-of to-scale drawing. (Creative Commons: Ed T).

Fun (or horrifying) fact: Not only do giant squid have large beaks, but their tongues are lined with tiny, file-like teeth. As if the giant eyes, scar-inducing suckers, and sharp beak weren't scary enough. 

And there you have it. Hopefully this post gave you some cool writing ideas, as well as a new-found respect for the ocean. What is your favorite weird/unbelievable ocean creature? I'd love to learn about it! I personally think the deep sea jelly fish is pretty amazing.

Related articles:
10 Little-Known Weapons to Use in Your Speculative Fiction Stories

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  1. I thought you were going to talk about a bunch of MYTHICAL sea creatures. But no. Apparently the deep sea is freaky enough that you don't have to make this stuff up.
    This world is weird, man.

  2. I didn't believe giant squid were real until I saw a clip of a Japanese fishermen with the giant squid swimming underneath it. I'm surprised be didn't scream like a little girl. I know I would.

  3. I love the ocean and am simultaneously terrified of it. Some of my favorites are the giant squid, whale sharks (gentle giants, but don't get too close), any kind of rays (ocean kitties/butterflies that can kill you), and the giant Pacific octopus (don't accept hugs because they can pull you under and they have the strength to lift a bus if they wanted to). Saving your list for future reference! ;)

  4. This is so cool, Hannah! Thanks for doing this. On the subject of nightmare creatures, I dare you to look up the bobbit worm. That thing is horrifying!

  5. Concept: mermaid dragonfish. Mermaid pelican eel (can they unhinge their names and open their mouth that wide, too? Because, um,). MERMAID GIANT SQIID.

    1. *unhinge their JAWS, autocorrect, what even. -.-


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