The ocean is full of weird animals, which have even weirder names. Here are 7 of the most unusual monikers the ocean has to offer!
If you’re looking to find one of the strangest fish in the sea, look no further than the frogfish.
Their leg-like fins, camouflaged skin and perpetual “oh no!” expressions make them an unusual sight on the sea floor. Frogfish are any members of the family Antennariidae, a type of anglerfish that includes about 50 species. They have modified pectoral fins that resemble legs, which allow them to “walk” along the ocean floor looking for prey. This makes them kind of resemble a frog—hence their name!
The sarcastic fringehead is a type of blenny, recognizable by its brown-grey coloring with patches of red or green. While “sarcastic” is often used to describe one’s humor, the word originates from the Greek sarkasmós, which means to bite or tear. The first part of the name refers to the sarcastic fringehead’s series of needle-sharp teeth that it uses to bite into its prey (although maybe it has a biting sense of humor too, who knows?) “Fringehead” comes from the soft appendages that rise above its head. Together, they make one of the weirdest names in the ocean (whoever named this guy must have had fun).
With its frog-like “legs”, lipstick-red pout and dangling lure, the red-lipped batfish is truly unlike any other fish in the sea. The red-lipped batfish is one of about 60 species of batfish that have modified pectoral and pelvic fins that resemble legs. The red-lipped batfish’s most iconic feature is also its namesake. Some scientists think their luscious lips help attract mates, but more research is needed to be sure.
Fun fact—they’re not the only species of batfish that sports a red pout! The closely-related rosy-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus porrectus) is found in the waters of Cocos Island off of Costa Rica.Those lucky enough to have seen it in person can confirm: the red-lipped batfish is one of a kind.
Cookiecutter sharks may sound cute, but don’t let their name fool you. They’re infamous for the cookie-like chunk their bite leaves on prey. The cookiecutter shark typically seeks out a larger prey item, like another shark, whale or seal, and latches on. Then it rotates its body in a circle, carving out a hunk of meat and leaving a perfectly circle-shaped scar. Fear not—these sharks are usually found at least 300 feet (90 m) deep and their bites are not fatal.
Lumpsuckers are a group of small, spherical fish that live in the chilly waters of the Arctic, North Pacific and North Atlantic. They’re part of the Cyclopteridae family, which gets its name from the Greek words “kyklos”, meaning “circle” or “round”, and “pteryx” meaning “fin”. There are 30 species of lumpsucker, ranging from the half-inch-long Lethotremus awae to the foot-long common lumpsucker (Cyclopterus lumpus). Their name isn’t the only thing that makes them unique: they also have a suction-cup-like disk on their underside, which allows them to attach to rocks and other surfaces.
Native to sandy habitats in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) only reach three inches in size. They’re on the small size for cuttlefish—for comparison, cuttlefish generally reach about six to ten inches. The first thing you notice about the flamboyant cuttlefish is its coloring. Monterey Bay Aquarium calls them “perpetual color machines”, and their mix of pink, yellow, brown and orange colors is, well, flamboyant. Despite their unique coloring, they’re remarkably well-camouflaged for their environment, making it easy for people (or predators) to pass them by.
The mysterious gulper eel, also known as the pelican eel, is one of the most unusual deep-sea animals. The gulper eel might look like your run-of-the-mill eel: it has a long, narrow body that undulates back and forth to move through the water. They live in the deep sea, ranging from 1,600 to almost 10,000 feet below the surface. Gulper eels get their name from their massive, gulping mouth. Like pelicans (and the inspiration for gulper eels’ other name), it allows them to scoop up water into its mouth to swallow prey whole. They primarily feed on crustaceans, fish and cephalopods, but some scientists believe their wide mouth allows them to go after larger fish if food is hard to find.
Any unusually-named critters we missed? Let us know by tweeting at @OurOcean!