Crazy, Creepy Creatures of the Atlantic That Will Delight Your Kids

Crazy, Creepy Creatures of the Atlantic That Will Delight Your Kids | Sunset Vacations

Fascinating or the stuff of nightmares? You decide. 

When you think of scary sea creatures, you might immediately imagine a shark like Jaws, or perhaps a blood-thirsty fish like a piranha. But there is so much more living just below the surface of our beautiful Atlantic ocean! It's truly a fascinating place. But don't worry about actually running into one of these sea-monsters on your Sunset Beach vacation. Most of these animals live a reclusive life far away from the beaches and you are extremely unlikely to actually encounter one in real life. That being said, we think it's important for the whole family to learn about the aquatic diversity found right off our shores. 

Dive in to learn more about some of our favorite "monsters". 


Northern Stargazer Fish | Sunset Vacations

Northern Stargazer Fish

Sounds like a lovely name for a fish, doesn't it? Well, one look at that face and "lovely" is the last word that comes to mind! This fish lives in the sand with only his creepy eyes poking out (thus the name "Stargazer") and waits for prey. He is about two feet long and hangs out on the coast from North Carolina up to New York. They have poisonous spines that can deliver a severe electric shock. Boo! 


Deep Sea Dragonfish | Sunset Vacations

Deep Sea Dragonfish

Bet you didn't know this guy was lurking in the Atlantic! Don't worry, he lives about 5,000 feet below the surface and likes eating little fish, not your toes. Only about 6 inches long, he has a special adaptation that helps him glow in the dark (to attract mates and possibly prey). He also has a barbel that hangs from his chin which glows and attracts prey. 


Vampire Squid | Sunset Vacations

Vampire Squid

No, it won't suck your blood and it doesn't even have fangs! Instead, the vampire squid (which isn't actually a squid or an octopus, even though it looks like one) is named for his awesome cape-like flaps that connect the arms together. This creature lives in the deep dark ocean and when scared, he expels a twinkly glowing liquid to confuse predators! 


Portuguese Man O' War | Sunset Vacations

Portuguese Man O' War

Isn't this creature gorgeous? The Atlantic Man O' War is beautifully tinted with purple, blue or pink, but watch out...their long, stinging tentacles can be deadly and can still sting you even if their host is dead! Found mostly in tropical waters, in recent years these floating trouble-makers have been found closer and closer to the North Carolina coast. 


Alligator Snapping Turtle | Sunset Vacations

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Ok, he doesn't live in the ocean but you could definitely find this dinosaur-looking dude hanging out near the brackish wetlands around Sunset Beach! They like to spend their time, a LOT of time. So long that algae starts to grow on their shells and they blend right in with the rocks. Their bite force is 1,000 lbs... enough to snap a bone! Do not touch, just enjoy this prehistoric reptile with your eyes only. 


Wolffish | Sunset Vacations


Resembling a cross between Jabba the Hut and an awkward teenager in need of braces, the Wolffish looks scary but would prefer to eat a nice spiky sea urchin over a human any day. They tend to live in the colder Atlantic waters near Maine and Canada and have specialized blood that helps them survive the chilly temperatures. This blobby fish can weigh up to 40 lbs and live almost 20 years! 


North Carolina Aquarium Fort Fisher | Sunset Vacations

Fishing for more? 

See more creepy (and beautiful) marine wildlife at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where you can touch a stingray, learn about baby sea turtles and even talk to a scuba diver about the sharks swimming around her head. Visitors vote the Aquarium a top regional and national attraction each year. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located in Kure Beach on an island along on the coast of southeastern North Carolina, near the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. The Aquarium is 20 miles south of Wilmington and a short ferry ride across the river from Southport. 

Fort Fisher Aquarium

Kure Beach, NC
(800) 832-FISH

Fort Fisher Aquarium Discounts: Senior citizens, military, children, groups, free admission days.

If you are in the teaching mood, show your kids this post with other interesting facts about the beach, courtesy of Sunset Vacations.

We think learning about local wildlife is a great way to enhance your vacation. The ocean is home to so many fascinating creatures! We hope you have enjoyed this quick look at some of the most interesting animals living in our beautiful Atlantic Ocean. 

do you have a favorite creature of the sea? 

Tell us about it in the comments! 

Crazy, Creepy Creatures of the Atlantic That Will Delight Your Kids | Sunset Vacations

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