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Five Fearsome Monsters of the Deep

Cases with different deep-sea specimens in them are lit up by neon pink, blue, purple and green-coloured tubes that have bubbles streaming in them.

With the help of the National Oceanography’s Centre’s Discovery Collections, we explore some of the most fearsome monsters from the deep in our latest major exhibition Monsters of the Deep. We’ve selected some of the most gruesome below.

Dr Tammy Horton, dressed in a white lab coat and wearing blue gloves, holds up a jar with a preserved fangtooth fish in it.

Dr Tammy Horton from the National Oceanography Centre with one of the samples from Monsters of the Deep.

Angler Fish

Angler fish have huge mouths full of sharp inwardly pointing teeth to help capture prey, which they attract using their long, glowing lure as bait, hence the name. In some species, the males are very small in comparison with the females, and live as permanent parasites on their mates.


With a tail like a rat, teeth like a rabbit, nostrils like a mammal, and a swimming ability more akin to the flight of a bird, it is clear why these fish are known as ghostsharks.

A giant sea spider from NOC’s Discovery Collections.

Giant sea spider

Arachnophobes beware! The giant sea spider has eight legs and can have a span of up to 75cm. But they’re not technically a spider as they don’t have venomous fangs.


Viperfish have extremely long, needle-like teeth and hinged lower jaws. When the jaw is closed, the teeth fit together to form a ‘cage’ in which prey can be trapped. The teeth are so large that they do not fit inside the mouth and instead pass outside the head, close to the eyes.

Fangtooth Fish

The most noticeable thing about the fangtooth fish is its mouth full of needle-sharp teeth, including its huge front fangs, which is how it got its name. The fangs on the lower jaw are so large that it can’t close its mouth in the normal way. The fangs actually slide into specially formed pockets in the roof of the mouth when the jaw is closed. These pockets extend into sockets on either side of the brain. Fangtooth fish are voracious predators.

Image focusing on a clear jar with a preserved deep-sea specimen in it. In the background are a couple of similar jars, as well as two tubes lit up neon green and yellow.

Monsters of the Deep

These five fearsome monsters can be seen in the Monsters of the Deep exhibition, along with many other strange and wonderful deep-sea creatures and specimens. The exhibition runs until Sunday 8 January 2023.

Book now

National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388