Fisherman Tweets Weird Catches, World Screams
For a Russian fisherman named Roman Fedorstov, a typical day at the office involves coming face to face with some of the ocean’s most horrifying creatures. Fedorstov works on a commercial fishing trawler that operates out of Murmansk, a Russian port town close to Norway and Finland. He has become somewhat internet famous over the years, thanks to his frequent Tweeting of pics he snaps of the weirder things that get swept up in the boat’s deep water trawl nets. These are some of the oddest, grossest and most skin-crawlingest specimens he’s posted.
This is a Lophius, commonly known as a monkfish. They’re a kind of anglerfish that is familiar to fishermen in the North Sea. They are not considered to be particularly handsome.
Believe it or not, this monkfish is on the “normal” end of the spectrum in terms of Fedorstov’s bycatch. Included in this list are some animals that are true nightmare fodder. The deep ocean is a completely alien world, where animals have evolved all sorts of extremely weird adaptations to cope.
You may have seen these in documentaries about deep-water creatures. They’re called frilled sharks, and they make for compelling photos. Frilled sharks are typically found at the very bottom of the ocean, up to five thousand feet deep. The frilled shark, sort of like the Coelacanth, is dubbed a “living fossil” thanks to its extremely primitive physiology. They are rarely seen. Researchers speculate that it may hunt by coiling up like a snake and pouncing forward. Thanks to its long jaws, it also usually swallows prey whole, like a snake. They show up in trawl nets from time to time, though there is zero food market for them. For obvious reasons.
This is a grenadier, also called a rattail. There are many varieties of this large fish, typically found in extremely deep water. The bulbous eyes are the result of being hauled up from the depths, a common symptom. Grenadiers are very common. One estimate claims that the family may account for as much as 15% of the entire population of deep-sea fishes. Some of them can grow up to five feet long, making them both common and freaky. They eat a little bit of everything, from fish to crustaceans. Grenadiers have been caught up to 23,000 feet deep.
Bearded Sea Devil
Fedorstov calls this a “bearded sea devil.” According to him, it is one of the most rarely seen fish in the ocean. Every so often, you see something like this that renews your bone-deep, abiding fear of the sea.
This is an Atlantic wolffish, also known as a seawolf. They are related to the wolf eel that’s common in the Pacific Ocean. It is as threatened as it is ugly, currently occupying a spot on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Species of Concern list. They are a remarkable fish, whose bodies produce a kind of organic antifreeze that allows them to live comfortably in the frigid deep.
Fedorstov’s Twitter has been met with some controversy, with lots of people angry at him for killing fish. But he is a conscientious soul, who takes care of his catches. Very, very thorough care.
Grenadiers can have very large, light-refracting eyes that make for dramatic photos. It is common for deep-sea fishes to have disproportionately large eyes, in order to detect the luminescence of other creatures.
A spotted ratfish. Ratfish are very common, and a staple of night dives. It gets its name from its long, rodent-like tail. They are typically a deep-sea fish but can also be found sometimes in shallower waters. Thanks to their uninspiring taste, their numbers are healthy.
This odd fellow, unidentified, has enormous eyes. It looks like it may be a cod of some kind, though its exact species is a matter of speculation.
Described by Fedorstov as “cool guys from the depths,” these Psolus phantapuses are one of the more disgusting creatures on this list. They are a kind of sea cucumber. A really gross kind of sea cucumber.
Bigeye Thresher Shark
This is a bigeye thresher shark, a kind of thresher found in temperate and tropical oceans. This is a little guy – they can grow up to sixteen feet long. The bigeye thresher is, obviously, named for its big eyes. Big and weird. They can rotate upwards in their sockets.
Fedorstov described this one as a “disgusting beauty from the depths.” It’s some kind of deep-sea anenome. One that looks like it’s having a bad day.
An Odd Crab
Fedorstov’s boat picked this guy up on one of their deep-water trawls. It’s not very big, but it definitely makes an impression. He is a brave man, letting it scuttle on his bare hand like that.
This fish has an eye that takes up almost 100% of its head. It was posted with the caption “when you drink too much coffee.”
A grenadier’s huge eyes refract light, making them look bright yellow in the photo. They look almost more like reptiles than like fish. Strange things are afoot at the bottom of the sea.
Fedorstov caught this extremely large squid, that looks unhappy to have its picture taken. Squid are notoriously dangerous, often traveling in enormous schools and voraciously attacking anything that moves, including other squid. Most fishermen consider them more dangerous than sharks when they’re present in large numbers.
A Ray Laying an Egg
A ray hits the deck with an egg case halfway laid. Fish sometimes give birth as a stress response to being caught, whether in a net or on a line. It appears that’s the case with this lady.
A very spider-like crab, trawled up from the bottom of the ocean. If you’re freaked out by terrestrial spiders, at least you can be thankful that they’re not sea spiders.
Bulbous Eyed Grenadier
When fish are pulled up from very deep water, they often experience this phenomenon. Their eyes bulge out due to the change in pressure.
What looks like a wolffish, in the middle of eating some kind of crustacean. This photo is not going to make it onto any National Geographic covers. That wolffish must have been very hungry not to have released its meal in the midst of its alien abduction experience.
A Devilish Fellow
They’re not all giant monstrosities. Sometimes, they’re spunky little guys like this. He looks like some kind of puffer fish, with enormous head spikes. Whatever he is, he means business.
This fish, which Fedorstov nicknamed “ScaryBeauty,” appears to only have one eye on the top of its head. He claims it is a kind of halibut. It does share a halibut’s flat shape, large, narrow mouth filled with teeth and body-spanning fins, but one eye? Internet research doesn’t turn up much in regards to cyclops halibuts.
The Cast of a Deepwater Sitcom
These fish look like they’re about to break into a singing routine. Extremely cool guys from the depths.
When you think of “hideous creatures of the abyss,” anglerfish are probably the first thing to come to mind. They are a diverse and universally ugly family of fishes. This one is no exception. “Hello from Hell,” remarks Fedorstov.
“Fall asleep… We are waiting for You…” remarks Fedorstov on this photo. We aren’t entirely sure what these are, but they do look an awful lot like frilled sharks.
“No need to invent “Monsters” Nature has already done it,” comments Fedorstov on this crab pic he snapped. We agree. We completely agree.
A Surprised Guy From the Depths
This very strange fish looks like it’s not mad about being caught, just kind of surprised. It’s whistling in disbelief at its surroundings.
A Question Marks Fish
Fedorstov did not identify what kind of fish this was, and nobody on Twitter seemed to have an answer, either. It looks like some kind of ray.
Another frilled shark. This one seems to be pretty happy about being out of the water. Just hanging out.
Despite appearances, Fedorstov does actually catch things that are edible. Like this deepwater redfish. It has very striking eyes.
Hello, Very Not Nice To Meet You
Fedorstov shakes claws with a red king crab. Unlike fish, crustaceans typically remain in good health after being hauled up from deep water. Like this one, who’s already making friends.
Another codlike mystery fish. This one happens to look like a cross between a frog and a chestburster.
A deepwater crab that has cultivated a little garden of barnacles on its carapace. This one is almost pretty. Almost.
This little shark is possibly a cookiecutter shark. Cookiecutters are known for taking small, circular chunks out of the sides of larger fish, hence their name.
Another Question Marks Shark
This is another deepwater shark species that Fedorstov didn’t identify and we have no clue about. Whatever it is, it’s uh… handsome. Very handsome.
Little Black Shark
Fedorstov posted this as a “little black shark.” Little black sharks are the classic shark, ageless, that match well with virtually all accessories.
A Clandestine Meeting
Fedorstov named this photo “the conspirators.” Not sure exactly who these guys are but we hope their plot turns out well.
Dunno, Something Horrific
Some kind of eldritch horror or other. Absolutely no idea what this is / why this is / what to do about it.
This looks like another grenadier. As often as you see a photo of one, they don’t become any less weird looking. This one is especially strange.
Fedorstov described this as a “Sad ugly #fish”. Our best guess is some kind of ratfish. Though that extremely long nose makes us wonder if it’s something else.