The Most Dangerous Underwater Creatures On Earth

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In depths of underwater environments, lie ecosystems much unknown to many people. The lack of knowledge between the underwater creatures and humanity is what causes many of these animals to be labeled as dangerous. Although we see much of our actions as innocent, these creatures see it as an impeachment on their well-being. Many of these creatures are equipped with very dangerous innate abilities, and definitely should be avoided if you ever come in contact with one.

Pink See Through Fantasia


The Pink See Through Fantasia was only discovered in 2007. It is a free swimming sea cucumber with all of its internal organs visible from the outside. The animal was first discovered at a depth of approximately 8,200 feet below the water’s surface, in the Celebes Sea. This creature is also bioluminescent and emits light when it feels it is in danger. There is still very little known about this creature. However, there are other sea cucumbers that can eject white cuiverian tubules which contain toxins that can blind you, and others can expel parts of their gut or emit stick filaments to entangle their enemy.

Pink-See-Through-Fantasia

Blue-Ringed Octopus


The Blue-Ringed Octopus is a beautiful site, as its colors are almost entrancing. However, it is advised that you stay far away from this creature. Found in tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, these octopi are one of the most venomous marine creatures. Although they are normally passive, if they feel threatened they will attack. Therefore, if you accidentally step on you, you can be in big trouble. Their sting contains a strong neurotoxin that could kill a human, as it causes paralysis to the respiratory muscles.

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Portuguese Man O’ War


The Portuguese Man O’ War is commonly identified as a jellyfish, however, it is actually a siphonophore (a colonial organism). It is found in multiple oceans across the globe. Their venomous tentacle can deliver a very painful sting, that is potentially fatal. Not only can the species sting you, but they have the ability to detach their tentacles. The tentacle is able to sting you attached or detached to the body.

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Great White Shark

The Great White Shark became known as a ferocious killer, through the hit film “Jaws.” However, there is a lot of truth behind the film. The great white is found all over the globe in costal oceans. Females can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 m) in length and weigh up to 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg). Great Whites account for the largest number of recorded shark bites on human. However, experts say humans aren’t their target, when a person is bitten, he or she was mistaken as a true food source.

Great white shark breaking the surface in South Africa.

Cone Snail

This tiny snail may look harmless, however, you must not touch it if you see one. The Cone Snail usually inhabits warm waters near the equator, and can be found in shallow depths close to the shore. This snail has harpoon-like teeth that can bite you delivering a venom called conotoxin.  The toxin causes nerve cells to stop communicating and therefore causes paralysis almost immediately. The cone snail is also equipped with a battery of toxic harpoons that can fire in any direction.

cone snail

Flower Urchin

The flower urchin commonly inhabits the Indo-West Pacific Ocean. It is scientifically known as Toxopneustes pileolus. However, it was given its generic name because of it numerous and distinctively flower-like appendages. Each appendage is actually a movable jaw. The urchins normally live in coral reefs, sea grass beds or rocky environments. Their home is partly why they can be so dangerous. As they live in places were human might explore, they are easily stepped on. When touched they deliver a debilitating sting.

flower-urchin

Stonefish

Highly venomous, the stonefish is mainly found in coastal waters in the Indo-Pacfic oceans. As you can see, their name was perfectly given, as it stems from their ability to camouflage itself amongst rocks. However, this fascinating ability is also what makes it so dangerous to humans. The fish is easily mistaken for a rock and stepped on. The stonefish has a needle-like dorsal fin spines which secrete neurotoxins when disturbed.

Stone fish.

Saltwater Crocodiles

The Saltwater Crocodile can grow up to 23-feet-long and weight more than a ton. Contradictory to their name, they can be found in both salt and freshwater, and are normally found in the Indo-Pacific Oceans. It is advisable to not provoke these creatures, as they can strike a bite delivering 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. Surprisingly to most, crocodiles are responsible for more human deaths than sharks.

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Pufferfish

The pufferfish inhabits tropical seas across the globe. Also known as blowfish, they are the second most poisonous vertebrae in the world. Their poison is found throughout its body, including the skin, muscle tissue, liver, kidneys, and gonads. The poison it contains is called tetrodoxin. Tetrodoxin is 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide. However, this fish is still considered a delicacy in many countries. In order to cook such a dangerous fish, chefs must be licensed. Unfortunately, accidental deaths from consuming the fish still happen.

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Box Jellyfish

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has named the box jellyfish one of the most venomous marine animals in the world. The nearly invisible jelly fish mainly inhabits waters north of Australia. It has up to 15 tentacles that can grow up to 10 feet long. Each tentacle is a tiny weapon that can deliver a very painful sting. Each tentacle is lined with stingers that contain toxins that can debilitate the nervous system and skin cells. Their is an antivenin. However, many of its victims go into shock and drown.

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Fire Coral


Fire Coral may look like your common coral. Don’t let this creatures looks deceive you, because he could lead to harm. Fire coral is normally bright yellow-green with a brown skeletal covering. It normally inhabits reefs in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Fire Coral has nearly invisible tentacles that protrude its surface pores. Its tentacles can deliver an intense pain that can last from 2 days to 2 weeks. Its external, calcified skeleton is also very sharp and can cut you easily.

fire-coral

Barracudas


Barracudas are highly evolved predator, with razor-sharp teeth. Their long, lean bodies allow them to dart through the water at speeds up to 25 miles an hour (40 kilometers an hour). Barracudas are found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Barracudas are scavengers and may mistake people for prey. Although humans are not the preferred menu, a barracuda’s teeth can certainly rip out chunks of flesh.

Barracuda

Moray Eels


Moray Eels were not originally harmful to humans. Due to human incompetence, that is slowly changing. Many divers have begun to hand feed eels. Eels have poor vision and rely on their sense of smell. Therefore, many people have lost fingers in this practice, or have been bitten even when not holding food. The eel has rear-hooked teeth and a strong bite, and is unable to release that bite, even in death. It must be pried off if bitten.

moray eel

Stingray


Stingrays started getting a bad reputation after the death of Crocodile Hunter “Steve Irwin” in 2006. Sadly, Irwin knew stingrays to be passive animals, but it felt threatened and attack Irwin. This is mainly what makes them so dangerous. Stingrays can lie in wait on the ocean floor, if stepped on, will sting you. Its tail is an approximately 8 inch spear, that delivers a dose of venom. The venom can cause not only pain but alter heart rate and respiration.

stingray

Tiger Shark


Tiger Sharks are a large macropredator that can grow up to 16 feet and 5 inches (5 meters) long. Due to their massive size, they are very high up in the underwater food chain. Their prey includes animals such as seals, birds, turtles, dolphins and even smaller sharks. They normally don’t search for human as their food, but they are often found lurking in shallow reefs, harbors and canals. Due to the high proximity of people in those areas, shark attacks become more likely.

tiger shark

Indonesian Needlefish


Needlefish are normally found swimming in schools near the surface of tropical and subtropical waters. In the water, they are dangerous, but they may be even more harmful out of water. Needlefish are able to hurl themselves out of the water and essentially become flying daggers. People have been seriously injured, and killed, after being stabbed by a needlefish. Night fisherman become high risk victims as the fish are attracted to lights.

needlefish

Leopard Seal


The leopard seal gets its name for its spotted coat. But, it is also considered a rather ferocious animals. The leopard seal can grow to 4 meters (13 feet) in length and weight up to 1,320 pounds (600 kg). Not only is their body huge, their mouths are also large and filled with big, pointy teeth. This seal is normally only found in cold waters in the southern oceans. Despite their isolation, there are still reports of human killings.

Leopard-Seal

Candiru


The candiru only grows to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in length, and lives in the Amazon river region. Don’t let its size confuse you, because this little guy can cause a lot of harm. Its body is translucent and eel-like and is commonly found in the gill cavities of other fishes, and feeds on blood. It is also known to sometimes attack humans. It has been reported that the candiru enters the urethra of bathers, and once inside your body, it erects short spines.

candiru

Piranha


There are over 60 species of Piranha that are found in South American rivers and lakes. This carnivorous fish has razor-sharp teeth and can grown up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) in length. The most infamous of the species, is the red-bellied piranha. The red-bellied piranha has the strongest jaw and sharpest teeth of all the species. Piranha attacks on human are rare but happen as they are attracted to the smell of blood.

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Striped Surgeonfish


Striped surgeonfish commonly live in coral reefs. Their black, blue and yellow coloring make them look very attractive, but do not touch. This fish has a caudal spine that is highly venomous. These fish are highly territorial and, therefore, if you infringe on its territory or harem of females, it will attack. Recently, scientists have begun using this fishes’ venom in the development of new drugs.

surgeonfish

Fire Sea urchin


Fire Sea Urchins are found in the tropical Indo-Pacific region. The urchin grows up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in diameter, and its spines can grow up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters in length). Its spines are hollow and grouped into 5 vertical clusters. These spines are as dangerous as they look, as they contain high levels on venom. However, stings are less common as their color is very visible to people.

fire sea urchin

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish


The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, also known as the giant jellyfish or hair jellyfish, inhabits waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans. The largest recorded specimen has a bell with a diameter of 7 feet and 6 inches (2.3 meters) and tentacles that were 121. feet (37 meters) long. A sting from this jellyfish is not fatal but causes temporary pain. Due to the large amount of tentacles that can deliver a sting, it is still suggested to seek medical attention if stung. The reason this jellyfish is so dangerous is due to its large amount of tentacles. In July 2010, around 150 people were believed to have been stung just from the remains of tentacles from a deceased lion’s mane jellyfish.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Yellow Sea Anemone

The Yellow Sea Anemone may look like a beautiful flower, however, it is much more deadly. The anemone has tentacle loaded with venom to stab unexpected prey passing by. Their venom paralyzes the prey and is then devoured. Therefore, it is best to stay clear of these predatory animals. They are commonly found inhabiting tropical reefs.

sea-anemone

Orca


Orcas, also known as killer whales, have somewhat developed a bad rep. Wild orcas are not known as a threat to humans, however, many that are in captivity have been known to kill or injure their handlers. It is their massive size and strength that makes them so dangerous.  Males orcas typically range from 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) long and weigh in excess of 6 tons. Killer whales are an apex predator, meaning there is no animal that preys on them.

orca

Crown-of-thorns Starfish


The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the largest starfish in the world, and got its name from the thorn-like spines that cover its body that resemble the biblical crown of thorns. They are mainly found in Australia, lying in wait for their prey. However, that makes them susceptible of being stepped on. When touched a spine can perforate tissue and deliver toxins into the victim. This can cause a sharp pain that can last for several days, as well as nausea and tissue swelling that can last for a week or more. The spines are also very brittle and can easily break off upon contact. Therefore, spines may need to be surgically removed.

starfish

Mud Crab


Mud crabs, also known as pebble crabs and rubble crabs, are a crab you will definitely not find on the menu at a seafood restaurant. The brightly-colored creature contains toxins which cannot be destroyed by cooking. They toxins are very similar to one a pufferfish contains. There is no antidote known. Therefore, it is definitely advised that you stay far away from this guy.

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Red Lionfish


The red lionfish is a venomous coral reef fish that inhabits the Indo-Pacific region. They have venomous spines that protrude from their body. The spines look like a mane, which is why it was dubbed a lionfish. However, their spines are only used for defense. Their venom is not fatal, but it can cause intense pain, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. As they have very few predators, their population is growing quickly and have become an invasive and dangerous problem in many parts of the world.

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Sea Snake


Sea Snake’s venom is more toxic than its land-dwelling counterparts. Mainly found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, sea snakes will only attack when provoked. However, the danger of a sea snake should not be underestimated. Most people that have been bitten work on trawlers, as snakes are sometimes hauled in with the fisherman’s catch. Only a small proportion of bites have been fatal. Symptoms that normally occur will appear normally 30 minutes after the bite and include: muscles aches, spasms of the jaw, and severe pain. More severe symptoms, that may occur if not treated, include blurred vision and respiratory paralysis.

Sea snake

Stargazer


Stargazers were given this name because their eyes are on the top of their head. They lie in the bottom of the ocean and can see their prey swim above them. Stargazers are venomous with 2 large spines. They also have organs near their eyes that can deliver electric shocks. Due to their ambush and camouflage hunting techniques, they have been called “the meanest things in creation”.

stargazer

Squirrelfish


Squirrelfish inhabit tropical parts of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. They may look like innocent reef fish. However, you don’t want to mess with them. Some species of the squirrelfish spines near the gill opening which are venomous, and can give painful wounds. They are largely nocturnal (which is why they have such large eyes), so you most likely won’t encounter one during the day.

squirrelfish

Boxfish


The boxfish is closely related to the pufferfish. However, boxfish are not normally eaten. Boxfish inhabit reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. They most impressive trait about boxfish is the way it defends itself. When threatened, the fish excretes a toxin from its skin cells into the water. These toxins, therefore, poison all marine life in their vicinity. Boxfish normally contain ostracitoxin or pahutoxin which can destroy red blood cells.

boxfish

Gray Reef Shark

The gray reef shark lives in the Indo-Pacific and is normally seen in shallow water near the drop-offs of coral reefs. They are extremely agile and can swim very fast, making them dominate to other sharks even though they are smaller in size. If they are about to attack, these sharks will display a hunched posture and swim in a side-to-side motion. There have been a reported number of attacks on humans that did not notice the display.

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Rabbitfish


Rabbitfish have large, dark eyes and small rabbit-like mouths, which is where they get their name. They inhabit the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific. Their most dangerous feature are their fins. The pelvic fins are formed from 2 spines, the dorsal fin has 13 spines, and the anal fin has 2 spines. All of these spines have venom glands. They venom is not fatal but can cause intense pain.

rabbitfish

Irukandji jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish may be one of the smallest species of jellyfish in the world, but what it lacks in size it has in power – powerful venom, that is. The Irukandji jellyfish is found around Australia, as well as in waters around Japan, Florida, the British Isles and Malaysia. This species of jellyfish has stinging cells on both its bell and tentacles. Their sting can cause severe muscle cramps, nausea and even psychological feelings that has been dubbed Irukandji syndrome. This syndrome causes feelings like that of impending doom.

irukandji jellyfish

Weever Fish

Most weever fish are found in the eastern Atlantic waters. What makes weever fish so unique is, unlike most fish, they do not have a swim bladder. Therefore, once they stop moving, they sink. However, this is good for a weever fish as they lie in wait at on the sea floor for the prey to swim above them. Unfortunately, they like to wait in shallow waters where people may swim. The weever fish has poisonous spines on their gills and dorsal fins. Stings are generally not fatal but can cause nausea, shortness of breath and seizures.

weever fish

Water moccasin

A water moccasin is not only dangerous on land, but also in the water. It is the only known species of viper that is semiaquatic. The viper has successfully colonized islands off the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. They are very strong swimmers and can fully submerge themselves in the sea. They have a powerful bite and their cyotoxic venom can destroy human tissue. Deaths are rare but have occurred.

water Moccasin

Conger Eel

The conger eel is very similar to the moray eel. Its species has some of the longest eel in the world, that can grow up to 3 meters (10 feet) long. They are predators and will attack humans. There was a specific reported case in July 2013. A diver was attacked by a conger eel near the coast of Ireland, in which the eel bit off a chunk of his face. The diver reports the eel was longer than 6 feet and was about the width of a human thigh.

conger eel

Nudibranch


The nudibranch is a soft sea slug that boasts brilliant colors and a toxic arsenal awaiting predators. Its first form of self-defense is actually its colors. The colors try to convey that this animal may not be the tastiest meal. The second is its self-producing toxins. Toxins can also be acquired by eating toxic sponges and anemones. The nudibranch secretes these toxins when it feels threatened.

nudibranch

Mantis Shrimp

Toxins or sharp spines are not what you have to watch out for with a mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp have claws that move as fast as a fired bullet. Their claws move so fast that a small pressurized air bubble is created. Even if they miss their target, it does not matter, as this bubble acts as a backup, and can still cause lots of pain if hit. The bubble also bursts and produces intense heat that emits a flash of light.

mantis shrimp

Hardhead Catfish

The hardhead catfish inhabits the northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Catfish are not aggressive, but injury thousands each year. They eat anything in its path, and it wont let your feet get in the way. This catfish has poisonous stingers to protect itself. If stung, the poison can cause intense pain and temporary paralysis. It is also advised to not handle them out of water as they have boney spines that can also deliver a dose of poison.

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Sponges

Yes, you read that correctly, Sponges can cause harm to humans. Sponges can be found in shallow coastal and fresh waters all over the world. They normally attach to something such as a rock or hard-shelled animal. Most sponges are harmless. However, there are some species of toxic sponges. These sponges if brushed can cause painful skin irritations that could last for hours.

sponge

Titan Triggerfish

The Titan triggerfish is extremely territorial and does not take to visitors well. They are found in lagoons and reefs of the Indo-Pacific and can grow up to 1 foot long. The have specialized teeth and a very powerful jaw, and grow violent if they feel imposed upon. Many divers have been injured by this fish. The flesh of the titan triggerfish is sometimes ciguatoxic.

Titan triggerfish

Sea Cucumbers


You may be surprised to find sea cucumbers on this list. They inhabit the deep seafloor all over the world, and mainly feast on debris floating through the ocean. However, they have very powerful defense mechanisms. If they feel threatened, some species eject white cuiverian tubules which contain toxins that can blind you, and others can expel parts of their gut or emit stick filaments to entangle their enemy (including humans).

sea cucumber


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