Given the extreme depths to which scientists must go to find these frightful–and tiny–fish, little is known about the hatchetfish. Making top models around the world jealous, the morose-looking creatures derive their name from how razor-thin they are. Anatomically speaking, the hatchetfish’s thorax is supposed to resemble the blade of the hatchet, and its cold, silver glint the metal. Their name is somewhat deceiving, though; measuring in at a mere one to five inches in length, the hatchetfish is hardly deadly. It’s just, well, pretty terrifying.
More gelatinous than your grandma’s pudding, the blobfish’s strikingly jiggly appearance has captivated the attention of millions for the past several years. So striking is the mass with fins that just this year it was deemed the world’s ugliest animal. Life isn’t all that bad for this Oceania-dwelling creature, though. As the blobfish’s den is primarily near the bottom of the ocean, the water pressure is understandably high, causing the blobfish’s skin to have the approximate density of water.
You might think that lack of muscle tissue would prove disadvantageous, but you’d be wrong. All that means is that when it comes time to eat, the blobfish simply opens its mouth while floating merrily above the ocean’s floor. Its lack of density means that it doesn’t have to expend any energy in order to eat. Lazy chefs around the world, direct your ire to the blobfish.
Consider the fangtooth fish to be the underwater equivalent of a menacing pitbull with a heart of gold. Despite their threatening appearance, the fangtooth is incredibly benign–especially as its poor eyesight means that if it wants to hunt, the fangtooth quite literally has to bump into its prey in order to find it.
Its chompers certainly paint a different portrait, though: protruding from its mouth, in proportion to the fish the fangtooth has the largest teeth of any fish in the ocean. Good luck catching a glimpse of the sharp-mouthed animal: it resides as far as 16,400 feet beneath the sea.
THE SEA CUCUMBER
These icky echinoderms certainly boggle the mind. Lacking a true brain and any semblance of sensory organs, the sea cucumber boasts about the same mental capacity as the food for which it is named. Nevertheless, the cuke serves as vital part of the oceanic ecosystem, as it recycles nutrients and breaks down detritus that comes its way.
Unlike the actual cucumber, the sea cuke’s collagen levels allow it to make some pretty kooky maneuvers: if the sea cucumber needs to wedge itself into a tiny crevice, the collagen will loosen and the sea cucumber will effectively liquify itself to seep into its desired locale.
THE GOBLIN SHARK
Deemed by some scientists as a “living fossil” and overshadowed by its flashy counterparts, the goblin shark leads a relatively mysterious existence deep below the ocean blue. The only extant survivor of a 125 million-year old family of sharks, the goblin is truly unique…and ugly. Apart from its most salient features (re: its long, flattened snout and protruding jaws), the goblin is relatively unremarkable.
Given its flabbiness, most scientists speculate that the goblin shark is sluggish and relatively inactive. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see a goblin shark in your lifetime; when one was brought to an aquarium in Japan, it died soon after.
THE ANGLER FISH
The angler fish is perhaps one of the most fascinating and bizarre sea creatures known to man. Not only known for their wily predation techniques (re: having a spine that grows its own fleshy mass that the angler can wiggle about so that it resembles prey, and then devouring its soon-to-be predators in one fell swoop) but also for its mating habits. When scientists first discovered the angler, they noticed that almost all of them were female…and that these specimens had what appeared to be some sort of parasitic growth attached to their lower parts.
Turns out that those “parasites” were actually just greatly reduced male angler fish, whose puny size renders their sole objective in life to finding and mating with a female. Once they do find a female partner, the male anglers quickly bite into the female’s skin and thus fuses them together. From this point on, the male’s life literally depends on its female host, as they share a circulatory system. When the female is ready to mate, he pays his dues by providing her with sperm on the spot.