Animals in North Atlantic

Updated: July 13, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of North Atlantic Ocean animals. We currently track 196 animals in North Atlantic and are adding more every day!

The North Atlantic Ocean is part of the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator. It borders the east coasts of North, Central, and South America and the west coasts of Europe and Africa. Its waters are deep and cold and so support thousands of species of animals from zooplankton to blue whales.

The Official National Animal of the North Atlantic Ocean

The North Atlantic Ocean doesn’t actually have an official national animal, though some countries that border it have national aquatic animals. The national aquatic animals of America are the orca, or killer whale, and the great white shark, while the national aquatic animal of Canada is the harbor seal, and the national marine mammal of Mexico is the vaquita, a type of dolphin.

Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in The North Atlantic Ocean

To find the top wild animals in the North Atlantic it’s best to start at the intertidal zone. There people will find such animals as starfish, sea urchins, sea squirts, coral, and sponges. Crabs, including tiny mole crabs and fiddler crabs, are also found at the shore or on the beaches. Mussels, periwinkles, limpets, and barnacles cling to the rocks of jetties.

Going further in and down is the continental shelf, which goes down to about 656 feet. Since sunlight still penetrates to this depth, most of the life of the North Atlantic is found here. There are even more sponges, coral, and animals such as sea pens and starfish as well as clouds of tiny animals called zooplankton. Species of shrimp, prawns, and lobsters are found near the bottom of the continental shelf, as are some moray eels.

Animals found in the open ocean include sea turtles, sharks, barracudas, jacks, species of tuna, and billfish such as blue and white marlin and spearfish. There may be huge schools of Atlantic menhaden. Colony animals such as the man-of-war and pyrosoma float on the surface of the water. Seabirds such as Northern gannets might also rest on the surface.

Further down in what’s called the twilight zone is where a person might find cetaceans such as dolphins, porpoises, humpback, sperm, and killer whales. It is the home of squid, cuttlefish, and species of octopus. Animals in deeper zones where the sun doesn’t penetrate include marine hatchet fish and weird-looking animals such as anglerfish, giant isopods, and giant tube worms. The sperm whale sometimes enters these deep waters to chase the giant squid.

Other mammals besides cetaceans found in the North Atlantic include walruses, seals, and manatees. The gray seal is found in the western and eastern regions of the North Atlantic, and the hooded seal is found around Greenland. The manatee is found in the Atlantic’s Caribbean Sea and off the coast of West Africa.

The Most Dangerous Animals in the North Atlantic Ocean Today

Since there is so much life in the North Atlantic, it’s inevitable that some may be dangerous to humans. Here are five of the most dangerous animals in the North Atlantic:

  • Lionfish — This admittedly beautiful fish with its bright colors and flamboyant fins is actually a native of the Indo-Pacific, but it has been introduced into the Atlantic. There are 12 species of this fish, and they are full of venomous spines. Getting pierced by one is excruciating, though death in an otherwise healthy adult is rare.
  • Stingrays — These fish, which are related to sharks, are usually docile, but they’ll defend themselves if they’re stepped on. It is unfortunately easy to step on a stingray since they tend to bury themselves in the sand, sometimes close to the shore. Again, the wound is appallingly painful but rarely fatal in humans. Sometimes the stinger breaks off in the skin and needs to be surgically removed.
  • Sharks — A shark may take a nibble out of a human who it mistakes for its usual prey. These sharks include tiger, mackerel, mako, dusky, swell, hammerhead, and bull sharks. However, the shark that does the most damage is the Great White, which causes most of the deaths from a shark attack in humans.
  • Man-of-War — This looks like a jellyfish, but the man-of-war is a unique creature properly called a siphonophore, or a colony animal. The different animals or zooids in this creature do different things to keep it alive. One of them is stinging, which is how the animal captures and paralyzes its prey. Sometimes, a human is unlucky enough to brush up against the animal’s stinging tentacles. The stings raise whiplike welts and are excruciating, though adults probably won’t die from them. However, the venom of the man-of-war has been known to kill children.

Endangered Animals In The North Atlantic Ocean

As some of the North Atlantic’s majestic and unique animals are dangerous, others are endangered.

  • Vaquita. Ironically, Mexico’s national marine mammal is critically endangered and may be in danger of going extinct.
  • Sea Turtles. Sea turtles, as a whole, are endangered. The hawksbill sea turtle is critically endangered and may also be in danger of going extinct.
  • North Atlantic Right Whale. This whale, extensively hunted because it was the “right” whale to kill, is also endangered. This is largely because it hasn’t recovered from being over-hunted.
  • Walrus. The walrus, one of the largest of the pinnipeds, is vulnerable.
  • Whale shark. The whale shark is not a whale, but it is the biggest shark in the world, and it’s endangered.

North Atlantic Ocean Animals

Albacore Tuna

The albacore is a very fast swimmer


The Albertonectes had the longest neck out of other Elasmosaurids.


Amberjack can grow up to 200 pounds

American Eel

Don't eat raw eel! Their blood is poisonous to humans when consumed raw.


November 12th is celebrated as National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day


There are 70 different species!


The anglerfish has a glowing lure on its head to attract unsuspecting prey

Atlantic Cod

One of the most popular food fishes in the world

Atlantic Salmon

These fish are known for their ability to leap and fight when hooked.

Baleen Whale

“Sings” a whale song during breeding season.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


Can grow to nearly 2 meters long!

Barreleye Fish (Barrel Eye)

A barreleye fish's eyes can rotate in their head to look for prey.

Bearded Fireworm

They emit bioluminescence during their mating ritual.


Not all birds are able to fly!

Blackfin Tuna

expensive sushi-grade tuna

Bladefin Basslet

The tiny bladefin basslet belongs to the same subfamily as the giant grouper, Epinephelinae.

Blanket Octopus

Females can weigh up to 40,000 times more than their partners.

Blue Dragon Sea Slug

They inflict a painful, venomous sting

Blue Shark

Blue sharks can have up to 135 pups at a time.

Blue Tang

One of the most colorful members of the genus Acanthurus

Blue Whale

The largest animal on Earth

Bluefin Tuna

The bluefin is one of the largest fish in the world


Bluefish are known for their "bluefish blitzes," where they chase schools of small baitfish to the surface, creating a feeding frenzy visible from the shore.


Bonefish have migratory habits, moving from shallow waters to deeper waters during different times of the year.

Bonito Fish

May eat squid or other small invertebrate ocean life

Bonnethead Shark

Bonnetheads are the only hammerhead sharks that use their pectoral fins to swim.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Stays in groups from 15 to 2,000 in number!'

Bull Shark

Unpredictable and aggressive temperament!

Butterfly Fish

There are more than 100 different species!


Also called ghost shark

Clearnose Skate

The skate with translucent nose patches


Also known as the anemonefish!

Cobia Fish

It has teeth not only in its jaws but in its tongue and the roof of its mouth


Cockles live quite long; their lifespan usually ranges from 5 to 10 years in the wild.


Codfish are carnivorous and eat other fish, including young codfish.

Conger Eel

The European Conger ( Conger conger) can weigh as much as an adult human!

Cookiecutter Shark

The cookiecutter shark takes its name because it leaves a cookie-shaped bite hole in its prey.


There are more than 6000 species of coral in the world's oceans.


There are 93 different crab groups

Crappie Fish

The crappie is one of the most popular freshwater fish in North America.

Cubera Snapper

While very intimidating, the cubera snapper also falls prey to other marine animals like barracudas, whale sharks, and moray eels.


Found throughout the world's oceans!


Damselfish belong to the family Pomacentridae


Can reach speeds of up to 25 mph!

Drum Fish

The drum fish makes a croaking sound with its swimming bladder!

Dusky Dolphin

Communicates using whistles, squeaks and clicks!

Eagle Ray

Majestic underwater bird like fish


Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!


Its system can’t metabolize wax esters, which can lead to unpleasantness for diners.

False Killer Whale

The false killer whale looks like a cross between a dolphin and orca!


Has the largest teeth compared to body size of any known fish!

Feather Star

Feather stars look like flowers. They have no heart, eyes, or brain.

Fin Whale

Found throughout ocean waters worldwide!


Respire through the gills on their heads!


A flat fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific!

Flounder Fish

There are around 240 different species of Flounder fish

Fluke Fish (summer flounder)

The chameleon of the seas!


There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Fish

Can glide in the air for hundreds of feet

Football Fish

The football fish is named after its unusual round or oblong shape

Freshwater Eel

Freshwater eels are actually catadromous, meaning they migrate to saltwater to spawn


The frogfish can change colors, but it takes several weeks to do so

Fur Seal

Found only in the Northern Hemisphere!

Garden Eel

Garden eel colonies are made up of hundreds to thousands of individuals.

Ghost Crab

Their eyestalks, which are sometimes horned, can swivel 360 degrees

Giant Isopod

Giant isopods are the largest group of isopods in the world

Giant Siphonophore

The giant siphonophore is longer than the largest sea mammal – the blue whale.

Great Hammerhead Shark

Great hammerhead sharks have a 360 view because their eyes are situated on the ends of their mallet-like heads.

Great White Shark

Can grow to more than 8 meters long!

Greenland Shark

This shark has the longest lifespan of any vertebrate.

Grey Seal

One of the rarest species of seal on Earth

Gulper Eel 

Gulper eels have a similar lifespan to humans and can live up to 85 years old. However, their age depends on their habitat and the availability of food.


The haddock is very popular in both recreational and commercial fishing


Can use slime to suffocate marine predators or escape capture


The word "halibut" is comes from haly meaning "holy" and butte meaning flat fish due to its popularity on Catholic holy days.

Hammerhead Shark

Found in coastal waters around the world!

Harbor Porpoise

Surprisingly, not a dolphin!

Harbor Seal

Harbor seals can dive as deep as 1400 feet

Hardhead Catfish

The hardhead catfish has a sharp spine near its fin to inject venom

Harp Seal

The harp seal can migrate up to 3,000 miles every year

Hermit Crab

There are over 500 different species!


People enjoy the taste of the oily fish in many different ways including pickled, smoked, salted, dried and fermented.

Horse Mackerel

Got their name from a myth that other fish would ride them over great distances

Horseshoe Crab

Changed little in over 500 million years!

Humpback Whale

There are thought to be 80,000 left in the wild!

Immortal Jellyfish

Excellent hitchhiker on long-trip cargo ships


There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jack Crevalle

One of the biggest species in the Caranx genus


Have tentacles around their mouths!

Killer Whale

Typically consumes over 200 kg of food a day!

King Crab

Can have a leg span of nearly 2 meters!


The krill is perhaps the most important animal in the marine ecosystem!


Not related to the eel


Lancetfish live at depths up to 6,500 feet below sea level

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

Though it’s a huge animal, the lifespan of the lion’s mane jellyfish is only a year.


Have been known to reach 100 years old!


The lumpfish have sticky suction cups on their fins

Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)

It's called the rabbit of the ocean because it multiplies so quickly.

Man of War Jellyfish

Named for an 18th century warship


Also known as the Sea Cow!

Mangrove Snapper

Tagging studies have found that once adults establish a habitat they typically remain there for long periods. In fact, they found that these fish can stay in one area for up to 4 years.

Manta Ray

Can grow up to 9m wide!

Megamouth Shark

Swims with its mouth open to capture prey

Minke Whale

There are two recognised species!

Mola mola (Ocean Sunfish)

The ocean sunfish is the biggest bony fish in the world

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellies are bioluminescent, so they glow in the dark! They can also de-age!

Moray Eel

Sometimes, groupers invite moray eels to help them hunt!


The Mosasaurus was much longer than the fearsome Tyrannosaur rex.


Nematodes range in size from 1/10 of an inch to 28 feet long


They get toxins from their prey to use it against predators.

Nurse Shark

Commonly found in Central American waters!


The Giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest bony fish in the world.

Ocean Pout

Females guard their eggs for up to 3 months


There are around 300 different species!


They live in deep water as far as 2,600 feet below the water’s surface.


Opah are brightly colored, with red-orange fins and a silvery body.


Can process up to 10 litres of water an hour!

Oyster Toadfish

The oyster toadfish can produce poison to protect itself


The parrotfish can change from female to male at some point in its life.


The male pipefish has the ability to carry fertilized eggs with him

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders

Porbeagle Shark

The porbeagle is one of the few sharks that jumps out of the water


The Porcupinefish secrete a potent neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin; this poison can kill both people and predators.


Closely related to crabs and lobsters!


The second most poisonous creature in the world!


They float with the current.

Quahog Clam

Their hinged shell protects their soft body

Reef Shark

Grey reef sharks can give birth without males


Fast billfish with a sail-like dorsal fin


Returns upstream every year to spawn

Sand Tiger Shark

The sand tiger is the shark most commonly seen in aquariums.


Legs also function as gills


Schools of sardines can be miles long and are often visible from an airplane


Sawfish teeth keep growing as the fish gets older


Scallops begin their lives by attaching to sea grass on the ocean floor.

Sea Anemone

Creatures have characteristics of both animal and plant

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Sea Lion

It's flippers allow it to walk on the land

Sea Slug

All sea slugs have both male and female sex organs

Sea Squirt

There are more than 3,000 known species!

Sea Turtle

Always return to the same beach to lay eggs!

Sea Urchin

Can live for up to 200 years!


Some gulls are capable of using tools


Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!


There are 30 different species worldwide!

Sei Whale

This whale is one of the fastest of the cetaceans


No shark species has any bones in their bodies

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako sharks can jump 20 feet above the water!”


There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Silky Shark

Has an extremely acute sense of hearing

Sixgill shark

The sixgill shark has six pairs of gills instead of the normal five

Skipjack Tuna

The skipjack is the most commonly caught tuna in the world

Sleeper Shark

The Greenland shark is one of the longest living vertebrates in the world.


There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snook Fish

Males change into females after the spawning season

Snow Crab

Snow crabs communicate with each other by waving or drumming their pincers.

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish mackerel typically live to the age of 12, but there have been cases of these fish living as long as 25 years!

Speckled Trout

Speckled trout are not actually a species of trout.

Sperm Whale

Each tooth weighs 1kg!

Spiny Dogfish

Found in ocean waters worldwide!


There are more than 9,000 known species!


Some species are known to have 10 arms!


Uses vibrations to communicate with other fish


Has 2 stomachs to aid digestion!

Stargazer Fish

Uses an electric shock to stun its prey!


It's stinger is razor-sharp or serrated!

Stone Crab

Females can lay up to a million eggs in one sitting


Large species can swallow whole salmon


Paracanthurus hepatus, the palette surgeonfish or bluetang, is the only member of its genus


Lose their scales and teeth as adults


Its genus dates back to the Cretaceous period – 113 million years ago

Telescope Fish

Swallows food, much of it larger than them, whole

Thornback Ray

The skate with the biggest spines!

Thresher Shark

Thresher Sharks have a distinctive, thresher-like tail.


Can be heard out of water


Nests on tropical islands and cliffs!


The tuna has a sleek body that enables it to swim quickly through the water


Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.


Viperfish have a bioluminescent spine on their dorsal fin.

Whale Shark

The largest species of fish in the world!

White Marlin

speedy open ocean billfish

White Shark

White Sharks live in all of the world's oceans.


"Whiting" can refer to certain other species of ray-finned fish


The wolffish has impressive canines with a powerful bite force!


There are more than 500 different species!

Yellowfin Tuna

The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species

North Atlantic Ocean Animals List

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Animals in North Atlantic FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What animals live in the North Atlantic?

The unique species of animals that live in the North Atlantic defy listing, but they include jellyfish, bony fish such as tuna, cartilaginous fish such as sharks and rays, and marine mammals such as whales, porpoises, dolphins, and pinnipeds, There’s also room in the North Atlantic for nudibranchs, sea pigs, sea cucumbers and sea squirts, lobsters, langoustines, prawns and shrimp. Moray eels live in the North Atlantic, as do lampreys and hagfish, octopus and squid. Others include clams, oysters, barnacles, mussels, sponges, sea anemones, sea fans, sea urchins, and coral.

What is the most dangerous animal in the North Atlantic?

Sharks are probably the most dangerous animals in the North Atlantic, especially the Great White. A person is indeed more likely to be attacked in the Atlantic Ocean than in other oceans.

How many animal species live in the North Atlantic?

Biologists aren’t entirely sure how ay species live in the North Atlantic, but they propose that there are about 1 million species of animal in the world’s oceans, allowing for those that have gone extinct or have yet to be counted. Since the Atlantic Ocean is 20 percent of the world’s oceans, then it might have 200,000 species. Since the North Atlantic Ocean is half of the Atlantic Ocean, it might have 100,000 species, most of which are invertebrates such as coral animals.