Some monsters, they say, are real. Unexplained creatures haunt the hills and hallows near our safe, modern homes. Of course, most rational people will dismiss these creatures. Sasquatch, the rougarou, even ghosts can all be rationalized away. They can be put back into the closet from whence they came. But that’s not always the case on the water.
No, the water, as it turns out, harbors even more unknowns than a dark city night or the gloom around your glowing campfire in the woods. The water harbors real monsters—monsters that we can touch, feel and take pictures of. Monsters that, once in a blue moon, you might catch.
Here’s a quick look at just a few real, spooky monsters of the deep.
The stargazer fish wants your soul. Just kidding. What it really wants is an unsuspecting reef fish to wander by around lunch time. This foot-long, flounder-on-steroids buries itself in the sand in ambush, then uses toxic venom and, in some cases, electric shock to devour victims. Some stargazer species even use a worm-like tongue to attract their prey, which makes them the Gene Simmons of the ocean.
Blobfish live between 2,000 and 3,900 feet below the surface of the waters between New Zealand and Australia. Because extreme water pressure at those depths renders gas bladders nearly useless, blobfish rely on a body coated in a gelatinous mass that is slightly less dense than water to regulate their depth. Blobfish feed mostly on crustaceans, and they could become endangered due to deep ocean trawling.
Often overlooked in the hunt for wild and cryptic creatures of the deep, the Great Barracuda is no joke. The largest ‘cuda ever caught tipped the scales at 110 pounds and six feet in length. A relatively common sight in the tropical U.S. waters around Florida, barracuda have reportedly attacked snorkelers or divers wearing shiny, metallic objects that resemble their prey. Some barracuda attacks have resulted in serious injury, but they are rarely lethal.
The kraken. The sea creature of legend. The chunk bait-turned monster. In 2004, Japanese researches took the first photographs of live giant squid. By 2012, another was captured on video about 150 miles north of Iwo Jima. The giant squid, we now know, is real. Scientists estimate that this living legend can reach almost 50 feet in length. Still, as has been the case for centuries, little is truly known about the giant squid except for one remaining constant—the sight of one can be a truly shocking experience for any fisherman at sea.
Stingrays have a reputation for making anglers especially nervous. Few things are as worrisome as a flailing wing wielding a death-spike flopping around your boat or slipping through your ankles in the surf, but one of those things could be the 1,300-pound version lurking in Indonesia. Of course, that’s no big deal to the young boy playing with the one above.