Fish and other ocean animals are free to move around the ocean as they please. Take the frilled shark, for example. This shark has been spotted in a number of locations throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—from northern Norway, Scotland, and western Ireland to France and Morocco. And those are only the Eastern Atlantic locations frequented by the frilled shark. It’s also been spotted in the waters of Hawaii and California, along with northern Chile in the Pacific Ocean.
However, while sea creatures do move around quite a bit, we can still make educated guesses about their primary locations thanks to documented sightings. And for these extremely rare and weird sea creatures found around the world, a map documented sightings like the one below may be the closest we’ll ever get to them.
View Weird Sea Creatures Found Around the World in a full screen map
We gathered and mapped data from Popular Mechanics and then assigned each creature a type. The map is sortable by those types for easy exploration. You can also find a summary of where to find the most weird sea creatures, the different types of marine life, and how to make a map of your own below.
All sea creatures have the option to go wherever they desire, assuming sea temperatures and other factors support them. However, we noticed a few areas with more of these weird sea creatures.
- Lizard Island, Australia
- Monterey Bay, California
- The Gulf of Mexico
You can see these groupings on the map, or read on to see what we found in each place.
Lizard Island is home to three weird sea creatures on our map: the Christmas tree worm, aptly named Lizard Island octopus, and the recently discovered delicate claw crustacean. Weird sea creature discoveries aren’t rare on Lizard Island. In fact, a research station set up on the island in 1973 has resulted in nearly 1,000 scientific publications. Lizard Island is located just off of northeastern Australia. While it’s the only weird sea creature hub to the northeast of the continent, the coast surrounding other parts of Australia also experience activity from unique marine life.
Off of mainland Australia, you can often find a blobfish (also known as fathead) or two. Blobfish may also be found in the waters between Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The leafy seadragon, cousin to the sea horse, can only be spotted along the southwestern coast of Australia. Towards northwestern Australia, you may discover a gulper eel (which can grow to be six feet long!) You might recognize the name as a one was spotted ballooning its massive jaws in a viral video. While the Australian coast is certainly rich with unique marine life, it’s not the only body of water weird animals frequent.
Monterey Bay, California, has two weird creatures on the map. What’s notable is how small a body of water is compared to other creature hot spots. Both vampire squid and sea nettles are native to this area. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re both on display at the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium. In 2014, the sea museum became the first to house a vampire squid in captivity.
In addition to being such a small body of water to house two rare sea creatures, Monterey Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are the only US bodies of water with weird sea creatures on our map.
As we mentioned, the Gulf of Mexico is another location to find much unique marine life. While it’s less shocking to find three rare animals in a large gulf when compared to a small island or bay, it’s still worth noting. The giant isopod, black swallower, and venus flytrap anemone each often reside here.
Additionally, the ocean waters around the island country of Japan are frequented by five weird sea creatures including Japanese spider crabs, vigtorniella worm, hydrothermal vent snail, and two sharks: the frilled shark and the goblin shark.
While both of the sharks on our map are most likely to be found in Japan, there are plenty of other types of weird creatures out there; we included eight total on our map:
- Crabs, lobsters, or other crustaceans
- Eels or fish
- Snails or slugs
- Octopuses or squid
- Sea cucumber
Of the five fascinating snails or slugs on the map, one stands out. While the sea angel looks and sounds nothing like your typical snail or slug, it really is just a predatory, and slightly cannibalistic sea snail. The sea angel’s diet? Other snails. We’re sure those other snails refer to the sea angel by a similarly biblical yet otherwise very different name.
While each of the nine crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans on the map are pretty weird-looking, none look anything like Kiwa, the God of Shellfish Crab. Named after the mythological Polynesian goddess of shellfish, Kiwa crabs are extremely unusual with their furry claws and lack of sight. However, there is no dispute over their classification: they’re crabs, a specific type of crustacean.
The pycnogonid sea spider, on the other hand, may or may not be a crustacean. Currently, it’s considered a different type of sea creature, grouped together with the likes of other seemingly crustacean-esque sea creatures such as horseshoe crabs. However, some believe sea spiders should be included with crustaceans like Kiwa, the lysianassoid amphipod, the delicate claw crustacean, giant isopod, Japanese spider crabs, terrible claw lobster, Metapseudes, and the munnopis isopod.
Jellyfish can also look fairly odd. Included on the map is the arctic hydromedusa, nicknamed the Darth Vader jellyfish thanks to its helmet-like form. While it’s quite common at about 3,300 feet deep in the waters of the Arctic, no one knew it existed until robot submarines investigated the strange blob squeaking “Luke, I am your jelly.” Other unique jellyfish include the crossota norvegica jellyfish, sea nettles, and marrus orthocanna. You could make a whole map dedicated to all the different types of jellyfish and where to find them.
Plotting vague ocean points can be challenging. For example, to make this map, we had data points like “Indian Ocean” and “Mid-Atlantic Ridge.” However, since BatchGeo uses the Google Maps Geocoding API to allow users to map their own data, there are accurate results for most reasonable searches. This includes common landmarks and business names; even larger geographic areas (like entire oceans) typically return the center point of the location. Read more about our geocoding process here or make your own map today.