The natural world is brimming with unusual species but nowhere more, it seems, than our oceans and seas. So here are just a few of the oddities on offer under the waves.
This fish native to the Caribbean Sea is exceptional for more than just its looks, as the male fish takes on the task of protecting its eggs. Once the female Jawfish lays its eggs, the male of the species fertilizes them, then places them into his mouth for incubation, where they live for up to two weeks.
This unfortunate looking specimen has a mottled appearance resembling a bad outbreak of acne. The Frogfish, which is found in the Pacific, can eat prey much larger than itself because it has an expandable stomach.
The Whitemargin Stargazer is also known as the pop-eye fish as these curious creatures spend long periods buried with only the eyes and mouth showing until they can catch unsuspecting prey.
The beautiful Red Lionfish, with its distinctive stripes and flowing pectoral fins, bears many of nature's hallmarks warning other fish to stay well clear.
This is because the Lionfish possesses a powerful venom, delivered via an arsenal of as many as 18 needle-like dorsal fins.
In the underwater world, you don’t have to be the largest creature to be the biggest threat. The stonefish, which only reaches an average length of 30-40cm and around 2kg (5lbs) in weight, is the most venomous fish in the world. It earns this superlative thanks to the venomous sacs on each of its 13 spines, and it packs a hefty punch to those who dare interfere with its toxin deadly to humans. It is also a master of camouflage but, fortunately, the threat to responsible divers is minuscule. Just avoid touching the reef and keep a safe distance if you are lucky enough to spot one.
This fish’s name in part derives from the old English word for "old woman."
It’s native to the western Pacific Ocean and has an almost cartoonishly exaggerated face including a high pronounced chin and protruding forehead.
The Tassled Scorpionfish is a particularly ugly aquatic carnivore capable of growing to 36cm. This fish uses ray fins with venomous spines, meaning even humans unlucky enough to step on the Tassled Scorpionfish can expect an excruciating injury which could prove fatal.
The Frilled Shark is considered a living fossil as it is one of the oldest species on earth and has barely changed during its evolution since prehistory. It is an elongated, large animal, with an average length of 2 metres, although there are specimens that reach 4 metres long. It has a strong jaw with 25-rows of teeth numbering about 300, allowing it to eat large prey, predominantly other fish, squid and sharks. It has six gill openings that help it absorb the little oxygen available in the deep sea.
The Dumbo Octopus got its name from its resemblance to the Disney character. This is because it has big ear-like fins that are located above their eyes. There are 13 recognized species of this genus. These animals live between 2000 and 5000 meters deep and feed on worms, crustaceans, snails, copepods and bivalves. These animals aren't as threatened by humans as they are by their natural predators, such as sharks. Since these octopuses don't have an ink sac, they protect themselves from predators by changing colours to blend into the environment, sometimes they even turning transparent. White patches above their eyes allow them to detect light.
Fangtooth fish have a truly terrifying appearance, with disproportionately vampiric fangs that are the largest in the ocean in proportion to body size, which is usually between10 and 18 centimetres. However, despite its blood-curdling appearance, the Fangtooth fish is harmless to humans due to its small size and preference for living deep down in the ocean.
The Pompeii worm reaches an average of 12 centimetres in length. It has tentacles on its head and a body that appears to be covered in hairs. It lives attached to the walls of volcanic hydrothermal vents in ocean trenches where it can withstand temperatures of up to 80 ºC.
Anglerfishes include some of the best camouflaged of all fish, with some, like the one pictured, possessing tiger-like stripes. Such distinctive markings are paired with extraordinary adaptations, including a lure right in front of its mouth for attracting its next meal.
The Handfish is a truly bizarre, bottom-dwelling fish that is most unusual, as it prefers to walk on its pectoral and pelvic fins than swim.
The now-endangered fish is native to Australia and five of the eight identified Handfish species are found only in Tasmania and Bass Strait.
The Psychedelic frogfish, which hails from the Pacific, boasts a variety of hallucinogenic hues, usually with stripes arranged in beautiful fingerprint patterns. The fish, which has an estimated 1,000 species, also has a flat face which is thought to provide it with depth perception.
This fish, from the Caulofrinid family, has unique physical appearance. It measures between 5 and 40 centimetres and has a giant mouth with sharp and terrifying teeth. This balloon-like creature is provided with sensitive spine-like organs that help it detect prey movements. Its antenna also serves to attract and hunt its prey.
This is indeed a weird deep sea fish. Measuring between two and three meters, this shark is noted for its jaw full of very sharp teeth and the large protrusion from the top of its head that gives it a certain Pinocchio quality. But its most unusual characteristic is its ability to project its jaw forward when it opens its mouth, allowing it seize prey despite the fleshy protrusion.
The Black Devil is a 20cm abyssal anglerfish that feeds mainly on crustaceans. It inhabits marine depths of between 1000 and 3600 metres, even reaching 4,000 metres. Its gelatinous appearance and enormous mouth of large teeth gives it a fearsome appearance but its also possessed of bioluminescence, with a lamp protruding from its forehead that helps it illuminate its dark environment.
The Dragon Fish has a flattened and long body, between 30 and 40 centimetres in length. Its large mouth has long sharp teeth In so long in fact they are not able to completely close their mouths.
The blobfish has a gelatinous structure in addition to soft bones, hence its name. It lives about 4,000 meters deep and holds the prize for "ugliest fish in the world" according to the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. It reaches about 30 centimetres in length. This strange animal is sedentary, toothless and only feeds on prey that comes close to its mouth .