Dive destinations: 10 weird underwater creatures

Last night on BBC4, The Secret Life of Rockpools revealed what lurks in coastal pools around Britain - we've gone further afield to discover where you can see other bizarre sea creatures around the world...

The Secret Life of Rockpools (available to watch on BBC iPlayer) saw Richard Fortey explore the nooks and crannies of our beaches to find a cornucopia of life – all with its own part to play in the ecosystem. We’ve gone one step further, delving into the cracks and crevices of the world’s underwater environments. It’s amazing what’s down there…


Deep Sea Viper Fish

Luckily for us, this strange fish is not as dangerous as it looks. Yes they have needle-like teeth that almost touch their eyes (surely a design fault), can reach up to 60cm in size, and live around 40 years in the wild. But they are no match for a dolphin or shark – both of which like to eat them.

Find them in: Australia

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These bizarre looking multi-coloured sea slugs live in reefs and the deep ocean, they often have pointy, alien-like rhinophores that move with the flow of the sea.

Find them in: Thailand

Blueribbon eel

These wacky looking things can grow to a whopping 1 metre in length and live up for up to 20 years – a good investment for the fish tank, and bound to get a few comments from your guests.

Find them in: Malaysia

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Christmas Tree Worms

The observant will spot these cute, dainty spirals, which come in an all manner of colours and sizes, growing on coral around the world.

Find them in: The Philippines

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Flamingo Tongue Snail

These other-worldly blobs feed on toxic sea fans, engulfing all the poison and becoming deadly themselves – probably best not to touch them.

Find them in: Miami, USA

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Pygmy Seahorse 

Found in Southeast Asia around the Coral Triangle, these teeny tiny things measure as little as 2cm each. Their camouflage is so effective that we didn’t even know they existed until the 1960s.

Find them in: the Philippines


Balloon Fish

These spiky Space Hopper-style fish puff up like angry balloons to scare off predators. You’ll find them lurking in caves and mangroves, but don’t get too close they’re a foot long and covered in sharp spikes.

Find them in: Mexico

Tassled scorpionfish

If one of these ugly beasts heads towards you, you should be worried. They’ve got spines packed with excrutiatingly painful venom and are carnivores, although we’re not sure if they’ve tried human yet.

Find them in: the Indian and Pacific Ocean

Giant Isopod

Imagine a 30-inch underwater woodlouse that weighs more than 1kg, and you’ve got one of these creepy cockroaches of the sea, that scuttles along the floor of the cold Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Find them in: the Antarctic


They should be in a cartoon or a Finding Nemo film, but they’re not – they’re in the real ocean. Strangely, they stay in their larval state way into adulthood, which would explain their embryonic appearance.

Find them in: Mexico

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Photo by Nick Nobgood, Barry Peters, Chika Watanabe, Laszlo Ilyes, Steve Childs