Are you a fan of tv shows like River Monsters and Monster Fish? Do you treasure movies like Jaws or Piranha? The wonder of the deep has baffled people since the first cavemen tied a cave-grub to a mammoth hair, trying to catch a prehistoric fish.
In honor of October - the month celebrating all things scary - we’ve compiled a list of deadly, scary, and dangerous fish.
Pretty But Deadly
These fish might be nice to look at, but you wouldn’t want to find any of the following fish at the end of your hook:
Actually considered a delicacy in Japan, the Pufferfish is the second most poisonous vertebrate on the planet. These fish contain tetrodotoxin, which is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. One fish holds enough to kill 30 adults.
This brightly colored boxfish is named after the horns that stick out from its head - resembling a cow or bull. Though this little fish secretes a poison that can cause, “disorientation and erratic movements, then coma, then death,” it has recently become a popular pet.
You might be more familiar with this aquarium favorite. Their decorative fins are covered in poisonous barbs that inject victims with venom. The Lionfish is rarely deadly to humans, but you won’t soon forget the pain from their sting. Even worse, they are becoming an invasive species in areas of Florida.
The Interestingly Gross
Wikipedia describes these strange fish as having, “Large, globose bodies and short, compressed tails.” Its upwardly turned mouth gives it the illusion of looking sad, but its glum face is the result of the bioluminescent lure on its dorsal fin.
Not much is known about this deep water dweller. So far only found off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, these fish are about a foot long (or smaller) and inhabit water that’s pressure is 60 to 120 times greater than at sea level. Although few have actually seen this fish in the flesh, this special slime ball was voted the ugliest animal by the UK’s Ugly Animal Preservation Society in 2015.
Speaking of nightmares, The Goblin Shark is about as close as you can get to a real monster of the sea. Another elusive water creature, don’t worry about ever encountering this species; scientists know almost nothing about its hunting patterns, habitat, or reproduction - even it’s choice of dinner is up for debate.
- Northern Pike
Accomplished fishermen in the Northern half of the country will be well-acquainted with this fish. Northern Pike - also called Muskies - are found in lakes and rivers with dense vegetation. They are carnivores, eating smaller fish, frogs, and sometimes birds. The average size of a Northern Pike is 24-30 inches and around 3-7 pounds, but they can grow to enormous sizes. The largest confirmed pike was caught in Germany and weighed a massive 55 pounds!
Relatively slow-moving but very powerful, these massive fish not only eat other fish but have been known to ambush small animals on the water’s surface. The fact that they can breathe both above and below water is especially helpful. Getting to gigantic sizes, they can reach up to 300 pounds - the largest was 327 pounds and over eight feet long!
Bullheads are a member of the Catfish family and come in three species; black, brown, and yellow. They’re known to sting fishermen, but as the Wisconsin DNR reports, “That ‘sting’ is actually a sharp cut from contacting the sharp edges of the dorsal and pectoral fins.” These cuts can be more painful than a bee sting and last longer than a week.
We end our list with Carp. Novices might think of a pretty Japanese fish featured in an ill-advised tattoo. They’re not poisonous or very dangerous, but in much of the US, Carp are an ecological nuisance. In the last few decades, Asian Carp have been introduced to Mississippi River waters to control vegetation overgrowth. Now, however, areas that connect with the river have a much more serious overgrowth problem.
You can learn more about the US’s history with this fish here.