I know, I was just as shocked as you are. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has settled the debate once and for all by officially announcing that mermaids are not real. They report on their website, “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”
The unplumbed depths of the ocean suddenly feels a little bit smaller, but fear not — for all of you romantic people out there who love the spirit of mystery and adventure, I can assure you that the ocean is still filled with sea monsters. Yes, I’m being totally serious. Mermaids are out, but there are other legendary monsters that would absolutely scare the swim trunks off of you. You thought the Creature from the Black Lagoon in that classic Hollywood movie was creepy? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
I know that this blog has a reputation for showing off some of the nature’s most stunningly beautiful creations, but sometimes you’ve got to put things into perspective. Today, we’re going to switch things around and look at the most hideous sea monsters ever to crawl out of our nightmares. Be warned! This post is only for the most adventurous readers. If any of you don’t want to get a case of the heebie-jeebies, I recommend that you visit one of my more visually relaxing articles, like this one on the beautiful discus fish or this one about the Kuroshio Sea exhibit.
You think you can handle it, eh? Alright, suit yourself. Prepare to be grossed out.
Falling squarely into the category of “a face only a mother can love,” these amorphous blobs of fat got hit with the ugly stick, which they promptly ate. The “lump” part of their name is fairly obvious. The “sucker” part comes from a set of fins on the bottom of the species that they use to suck onto substrate.
This species isn’t studied very well (who would want to?) but I’m pretty sure that the way lumpsuckers have survived for so long is that other predators think, “Blugh, no way I’m eating that.”
I once had a friend describe a monk fish as, “imagine a puddle of mud that grew teeth.” These hideous monstrosities are basically shaped like a giant mouth with a tail fin connected to the back.
I don’t even understand where the food goes after a monkfish has eaten it. There’s isn’t any room left inside of this fish for important things like guts. Hideous!
You probably thought you were safe from sharks and other leg-chompers when you swim in fresh water. Not only can some species of shark, such as bull shark, swim upstream into brackish waters, but some Southeast Asian rivers are home to the dreaded tigerfish.
This 100-pound fish has 32 needle-sharp teeth and can grow up to five feet long. Jeremy Wade of the popular TV show River Monsters described the species: “It is, for all intents and purposes, a giant piranha. It is quite a beast. The teeth on it are incredibly sharp and are about the same length as a great white shark.”
3. Giant Isopod
Entomophobia is the fear of bugs. Even though the Giant Isopod is a crustacean and not a bug, this wretched abomination of the wild will set off alarm bells in that instinctive part of your brain. How would you like to wake up in the middle of the night to see one of these things crawling across your stomach?
Those are horrible! Surely, there can’t be anything worse than that isopod. Right? Right?!
2. Lamprey Eel
These swimming mouths will latch onto a fish, kind of like a leech, and gradually gnaw on it until it’s had its fill. So, yes, they’re basically just giant leeches, but with more teeth.
Last but not least is Barry, the Giant Sea Worm. Workers in the Blue Reef Aquarium in Cornwall, United Kingdom couldn’t figure out what was ravaging one of their coral reef displays. Their coral and their reef fish were mysteriously vanishing.
So, they decided to set traps, complete with hooks and bait. When the aquarists came back the next day they found out that the traps had been completely destroyed. Whatever was eating the coral was eating their traps (hooks and all), too.
Finally, they decided to dismantle the aquarium rock by rock, and that’s when they discovered this four-foot-long polychaete worm.
They decided to name him “Barry.” Not only was Barry annihilating the fish population, but this species has thousands of bristles spread across its body which can cause permanent numbness to any human who touches it. So, you can lose your sense of touch and your optimistic naïveté all in one spot.
And here’s a mugshot:
Suddenly, don’t even the most mundane species of fish, such as goldfish, look like gilled supermodels?