There are plenty of creatures in the ocean that could be described as “spooky”—though we prefer “interesting.” None of the species we’re profiling below are particularly dangerous to humans—we just think they’re fascinating!
Some of the strangest aquatic species are elasmobranchs- a subclass of cartilaginous fish that includes sharks, skates and rays. There’s no better group of marine animals to showcase for the month of October. So, grab your pillowcase or other reusable candy receptacle, bundle up, and read on for some spooky sharks…
In the far northern Atlantic Ocean, an ancient predator roams the depths. The Greenland shark moves slowly (never going faster than a leisurely 1.7 mph) and has been known to scavenge polar bear and moose. It can reach truly titanic sizes, up to 24 feet in length and weighing more than 3,100 pounds. Their flesh is toxic, smells like urine, and before consumption, must be treated to remove poisonous trimethylamine oxide (it is a delicacy in Iceland). Most eerie of all? This cold-water shark can live up to 400 years or more. That means there are Greenland sharks out there that are older than the United States.
Found around the globe, the pink-skinned goblin shark is a top contender for spookiest looking shark of all. Reaching lengths of up to 20 feet and clocking in at weights up to 460 pounds, this seldom-seen shark is most notable for its unique mouth. Normally, the goblin shark’s jaw rests beneath its long, flat snout… but when prey is within reach, the goblin throws its projecting jaw forward like a jack-in-the-box and gobbles its meal up.
Prey hardly ever sees the wobbegong shark coming for them. These nocturnal bottom dwellers are also known as carpet sharks, and for good reason—their flat profile is covered in camouflage and small whisker lobes that mimic seaweed, and fish and divers alike often don’t spot them at all. These well camouflaged sharks lie still, and use their tails to pure prey in. Once they bite, wobbegongs like to hold on!
If cool elasmobranchs are your thing, read about the critically endangered sawfish!