What is the ocean’s most dangerous predator?

By ArthurHoose

The mysteries of the depths have inspired horror stories for generations. What is the most frightening thing about the ocean?

Hallowe’en is quickly approaching so I asked Sea Change campaigners for their top 10 list of the most frightening ocean predators they knew. Check out our top 10 list for the most bizarre deep-sea creatures you will find in the ocean.

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9. Northern stargazer

Northern stargazer is a fast, ninja-fast fish that hides in the sandy ocean floor waiting for its meal to come. It has its eyes and mouth fixed on its head so it can snap off any fingers, toes or other dangling parts that pass through its zone. This guy is not recommended for trick-or-treating.

8. Megamouth shark

The megamouth shark has a large mouth, and 100 rows of teeth that glow to attract prey. Megamouth sharks swim with their mouths open, taking in food as they go. These teeth are mainly for eating krill, so don’t be alarmed. This shark is not a threat unless you are a plankton-like creature.

7. Frilled shark

You’d be hard-pressed to find a frilled shark with such a beautiful name. Its snake-like body and 300 needle teeth can make it awkward to converse with. We are certain that this shark, despite its danger, wants to be loved, as all marine animals do. Once we stop screaming, we are willing to try friendship.

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6. Salp

This bright, tiny blob looks almost like a jellyfish at first glance. The salp is actually an asexual reproduction machine that can produce hundreds of replica salps. Each mini-me salp will grow at 10% per hour and consume tonnes of phytoplankton every meal. You can run but not hide phytoplankton.

5. Predatory tunicate

The hermaphrodite insectvertebrate is essentially a ravenous mushroom that eats anything that passes through its territory. The predatory tunicate is anchored in the ground and only opens its mouth to move. It swallows water and food with its ghostly mouth and slowly digests its prey in its stalk.

4. Fangtooth fish

The fangtooth, also known as the “ogrefish”, is one of the most deep-sea living fish. It can be found at 16,000m below the sea level in all oceans around the globe. Fangtooth is the only fish that lives so deep under the ocean. It has very little food and is often in constant starvation. It has evolved a permanent open jaw to eat any food it comes across. I can’t say it’s making deep sea diving very appealing…

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Fangtooth fish measures only seven inches long. Six-and-a half inches of fangtooth fish are pure terror.

3. Giant isopod

This one is beyond my control. I was moved by this picture and have been praying for help.

2. Pacific viperfish

It first lures you in with its warm, sultry belly. Then, before you know, one of its sharp, protruding teeth has impaled your skull. Although the viperfish is quick to kill, it’s still very scary.

This deep-sea species is not well known as only a handful of them have been studied. We do know that viperfish can survive for up to 30 years in the wild but only a few hours in close human contact. Maybe it is more afraid of us than it is of us.

You have made it to the last and most frightening predator of the sea. This one isn’t a living creature, like the eight others. It’s…

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1. Ghost gear

Although it may look harmless, this gear is known as “ghost gear” for a reason. Commercial fisheries lose or abandon 640,000 tonnes each year of fishing nets, lines and traps. This entanglement and endangerment of marine wildlife haunts every ocean and sea on this planet.

Ghost gear is a nightmare for all ocean inhabitants, including dolphins, whales and sea turtles. Viperfishes and isopods also are at risk.

Ghost gear is something that even great white sharks cannot escape. What chance do other sea creatures have?

Make the sea less scary

Despite this dire situation, there are some positive things. Help save the victims of ghost gear.

While you are out at the beach, surfing or swimming, keep an eye out to find ghost gear. Pick it up and dispose it responsibly. Ghost gear includes lines, traps, fishing nets and lines that have been abandoned. However, all other marine litter must be removed.

You can help prevent one of our “scary” ocean friends from getting entangled in it or ingesting them by helping to clean it up. These sea creatures might not be as scary if we clean up their habitat.