Ready to meet some seriously strange creatures? Things you won’t believe actually exist?! Then take a deep breath and join National Geographic Kids as we dive into the deep to get up close and personal with the ocean's weirdest wonders...
This may look like your average piece of seaweed but, believe it or not, it's actually a fish! Found along the southern and western coast of Australia, the leafy sea dragon is a member of the same family as the seahorse - the Syngnathidae family. They grow to around 20-24cm long and feed on plankton and small crustaceans. Moving through the water using their tiny fins, this fab fish's long, leafy extensions allow it to hide from predators by blending in with seaweed! David Attenborough has said he counts the leafy sea dragon as his favourite animal. Cool, eh?
Christmas Tree Worms are found on coral reefs in tropical waters around the world. They get their name from the two spiral 'plumes' that look just like - yep, you guessed it - Christmas trees! These hair-like tentacles grow from their small, tube-like bodies, and are used for feeding on microscopic plants and for respiration, allowing the worm to breathe. These cool critters come in different colours, including orange, yellow, blue and white!
Now here's a creature that might give you a fright! With its huge head and enormous mouth, these fearsome fish swim in the dark depths of the ocean. Ranging from around 20 centimetres to one metre in length, there are more than 300 species of anglerfish, most of which are found in the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans. So what makes this creature super strange? Well, the female has her own glowing light hanging above her mouth! This luminous flesh attracts unsuspecting prey close to the anglerfish's sharp, see-through teeth and then...chomp!
Ever seen a fish that looks like this before? Found mainly off the east coast of the United States, this creepy creature grows to around 50cm long. It has a blackish brown body with white spots on its head, and stripes on its tail. The wacky bit? The northern stargazer’s eyes and nostrils are located on the top of its head, and, unlike most fish, its mouth faces upwards! This cunning critter buries itself in the sand, leaving its eyes poking out. And when an unlucky smaller fish swims by, it rises up and swallows its meal in one big gulp!
Rather than swim through the ocean like most of our fishy friends, this cool creature prefers to walk along the seafloor! Found in the waters of southern Australia and Tasmania, it grows to around 15cm long and has skin covered in tooth-like scales, called 'denticles'. So why the name 'handfish'? Well, these quirky creatures move around the ocean floor using a unique set of fins that look similar to human hands. There are other kinds of handfish, too, including the spotted handfish and the pink handfish.
Meet the Wobbegong, a species of the 'carpet shark' family - not the piece of old rug that it may first seem! To find one of these super sharks, you'll need to explore the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Wobbegongs spend their time resting on the sea floor, camouflaged by their flat, tasseled bodies. There they wait for a tasty treat - including fish, octopuses, crabs and lobsters - to pass their way, before...gulp! Some wobbegongs have also been seen to slowly sneak up on their prey, too, in search of some grub.