The ocean is full of creepy creatures (although we think most of them are also pretty cute), but should you really be scared to go for a swim? We've chosen a few of our favorites and scored them based on their spooky appearance (Fear Factor), and how dangerous they would be in the unlikely event of an encounter (Danger Factor). Hint: it turns out the scariest fish doesn't even live in the sea! 

Marine hatchetfish

Fear factor: 6/10

Danger factor: 0/10

The marine hatchetfish may look scary, but he needs those bulging balloon eyes to let in as much light as possible in his dark habitat 100-600 meters below the sea. Hatchetfish are so thin that they are difficult to see from head-on, and they use bioluminescence (the emission of light from a living organism) to disorient predators. 



Fear factor: 7/10

Danger factor: 1/10

Adult female anglerfish use their luminescent illicium, or "fishing rod" to lure prey into their large mouths filled with fang-like teeth. Specialized bioluminescent bacteria live at the tip of the illicium (called the esca) and create the light that is given off!


Goblin shark

Fear factor: 9/10

Danger factor: 2/10

Perhaps the king of the scary sea creatures, the goblin shark is not well understood by scientists. We do know that its long snout allows it to sense electric fields produced by its prey, which it then snaps up by quickly extending its jaws. The goblin shark's body has been described as "flabby", with weak muscles and small fins, and it is said to be sluggish and inactive - so don't worry about one of these guys chasing you if you find yourself swimming in their habitat 100 meters below the surface of the sea!



Fear factor: 1/10

Danger factor: 0/10

This photo of a female jawfish might remind you of a scene from the Exorcist, but she's actually just protecting her young. Jawfish are mouthbrooders, meaning their eggs hatch in their mouth, where the babies, called "fry", are protected from predators. 



Fear factor: 9/10

Danger factor: 10/10 

This freshwater wildcard hails from Africa, where its largest family members can be found in the Congo River and Lake Tanganyika. Considered a prize catch by African fisherfolk, these muscular fish have sharp teeth and are very aggressive. In fact, they are the first species ever recorded to attack and catch low-flying birds! 


Sarcastic fringehead

Fear factor: 5/10

Danger factor: 1/10

These territorial fish are small but fierce. When defending their home from an enemy, they battle by pressing their extended jaws together. The larger fish usually prevails. 


Fear factor: 9/10

Danger factor: 2/10

The viperfish's teeth are too long to fit in his (or her!) mouth, so instead they curve around the outside of his head, which makes for a pretty terrifying appearance. His oversized mouth and stomach allow him to consume extra large meals, which are enough to satiate him for months at a time, since feeding opportunities are rare in the deep sea. Like hatchetfish and anglerfish, viperfish use bioluminescence to attract prey and potential mates in the dark.