12 Amazing Ocean Animals

beluga whale
© Carol M Highsmith / CC0 1.0, Rawpixel

Written by Marisa Wilson

Updated: July 9, 2023

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If you’re a fan of fish, there’s a good chance you’ll be fascinated by the creatures that live in the ocean. The sea is home to some of the most amazing animals on earth, including clownfish, dolphins, and whales. Each is uniquely adapted to survive in its environment and fascinating to watch in action. Sometimes they have unique capabilities that make them surprising and different than other animals. There are several beautiful and strange animals and if you’re looking for a new animal obsession, dive into learning about these amazing ocean animals. You won’t be disappointed.

The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid is only about one to two inches long and lives about three months in the wild.

1. Dumbo Octopus 

NOAA Ocean Explorer: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Gulf of Mexico
The dumbo octopus has big ears and uses them to propel itself through the water

Named after the Disney elephant, Dumbo, this is hard to find octopus that lives in the deepest parts of the ocean. It looks like it has big ears and uses them to propel itself through the water. Unlike other octopuses, this one doesn’t have ink because it hardly encounters threats. Looking at this fish, you’ll see that it is too silly to start a fight because it seems like a cartoon. Although the largest one on record was around five feet, they typically stay under twelve inches. The good news is that a Dumbo octopus will never take down a ship.

2. Cuttlefish 

one of the most amazing ocean animals is the cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are able to blend in with their surroundings!

©David Sim from London, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The cuttlefish is one amazing ocean animal. Not only do they have the ability to change their appearance and blend in with their surroundings (a process known as camouflage), but they also have two tentacles that work just like their extended family- octopuses and squids. Talk about impressive! Cuttlefish are also famous for their sepia ink. This brownish color ink has once used with quail feathers to write and draw. There are several fascinating facts about cuttlefish – and we haven’t even mentioned the W-shaped pupils of their eyes yet! — because their eye perceives things significantly differently than most creatures. This odd aspect makes their eyes the weirdest compared to other animals.

3. Japanese Spider Crab

one of the most amazing ocean animals is the Japanese spider crab which can regrow its own legs

Japanese spider crabs are massive compared to other crabs – some can even have a 12-foot leg span!


When you think crab, you might imagine a tiny critter that scurries across the beach sideways. However, the Japanese spider crab can be massive compared to other crab types. Some can be huge with a twelve-foot-leg span. The good news is that despite their intimidating size, they aren’t hunters; they are scavengers. Japanese spider crabs also like to use plants to decorate their shells as a form of camouflage. This crab also has a superpower. If one of its legs ever gets torn off, it can regrow the leg when it goes through the molting cycle.  

4. Red Lionfish

Lionfish isolated on white background

Red lionfish are some of the most stunning oceanic animals even though they have a poisonous sting


One of the most amazing ocean animals is the red lionfish which is a brilliant red color with white stripes that make it look like a swimming optical illusion. Although it is a sight, it is nocturnal, so the beautiful colors aren’t often shown. They primarily feed at night but can occasionally be spotted during the day. The lionfish is known for its poisonous stings but doesn’t use this to catch its prey. Only in self-defense will a lionfish result in this defense mechanism. It’s a successful predator that can catch over fifty types of fish. It does this by flaring out its graceful fins to corner its prey and eating it in one bite. 

5. Blue Glaucus

Coolest Animals: The "Blue Dragon"

Blue Dragon, Glaucus atlanticus, eat large, venomous prey, such as the Portuguese man o’ war and the blue button jelly, and store their prey’s stinging cells in their bodies to later use against predators.


When you think of slugs, two things come to mind: a gross-looking snail without a shell or a cartoon showing a French dish of slimy creatures running away from the fork. This slug is like no other ones you’ve seen before. It’s a blue glaucus which is known as the “blue dragon” of the ocean. Although these beautiful creatures look like magic, they have a poisonous defense mechanism. They don’t create poison; instead, they keep the poison from their prey, such as the Portuguese man o’ war, and use it against their predators. That is a fantastic way to protect themselves!

6. Peacock Mantis Shrimp

peacock mantis shrimps are some of the most amazing animals with their bright and vibrant colors

Peacock mantis shrimps have enough strength to crack the glass of an aquarium

©Maxfield Weakley/Shutterstock.com

By the name of this sea animal, you can tell it looks as eventful as it sounds. Peacock mantis shrimps are graced with vibrant colors. You will be mesmerized to see this in person with its striking appearance. However, if you were the prey of this creature, you would be afraid. These are incredibly violent and aggressive shrimp. They have a powerful punch that is often compared to the speed of a gunshot. It has enough strength to crack the glass of an aquarium. That is one shrimp you don’t want to fight in a boxing match with because you might just lose. 

7. Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Hawaiian bobtail squid are tiny - only around 1 or 2 inches long

Hawaiian bobtail squid are too small to be dangerous


Most squids are something people like to make incredible stories about, like the story in the Kracken novel. The Hawaiian bobtail squid, however, is not a threat in the slightest. This tiny creature is only about one to two inches long. That is about the size of your thumb! These little squids aren’t as equipped to hunt as other sea animals, so they play hide and seek with their prey. They cover themselves beneath the sand to hide and wait for their lunch to seek them. Typically their diet consists of small shrimp. As far as life spans go, they are extremely short. They only live around three months in the wild.

8. Parrotfish

parrotfish in dark water

Parrotfish make a clear cocoon of mucous around their body before falling asleep.


Another amazing ocean animal is the parrotfish. The colors of this fish are as vibrant as a parrot. These exotic colors also bring with them strange behaviors and unique abilities. For example, the parrotfish uses mucus to form a bubble around it when it goes to sleep. This bubble may help hide its scents from predators and keep away parasites. Some types of parrotfish can also eat rapidly. They can take around 20 bites out of coral per minute. With how speedy some types eat, they also have strong teeth. Their teeth won against silver, copper, and even gold in a fracture (strength) test. 

9. Dwarf Lantern Shark 

Dwarf lantern sharks are absolutely tiny and glow in the dark as they live at great depths

©Javontaevious / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

When people imagine sharks, they picture a huge fin circling a boat. Usually, sharks are known as massive creatures. However, dwarf lantern sharks are tiny sharks that typically weigh half an ounce and grow around six inches. You can almost hold the entire shark in one of your hands. Since they live deeper in the ocean, light doesn’t reach it as well. They can see while being that far from the light because they have an organ that produces light. They literally glow in the dark. It’s similar to the way an anglerfish in the way it glows. These little sharks are a mystery, and not much has been discovered about them.

10. Harp Seal

Harp seal pups are white and fluffy until they develop sufficient blubber


Another amazing ocean animal is the harp seal. These ocean animals are known for being cute white fluff balls as babies. Harp seals keep their fur until they can develop more blubber to stay warm. When they are fully grown, they can be around six feet and weigh 300 pounds. Although they prefer staying in more shallow water, they can dive over 1.000 feet. This ability may be a factor for them to eat around 60 different kinds of fish. The average lifespan is up to 30 years which is considerably longer than some of the other animals mentioned in this list. These baby puff balls have a long life ahead of them. 

11. Beluga Whales

Beluga whales are incredibly slow and average only 5mph!

©Carol M Highsmith / CC0 1.0, Rawpixel – Original / License

Beluga whales are white with friendly faces. They can stay underwater for around 25 minutes at a time. Can you imagine holding your breath that long? With lungs this great, it’s no surprise that they are the most vocal whale out of all of them. They have bulbous-shaped foreheads that change shape when they blow air through their sinuses. What would that ability be like if humans were capable of that? It’s also interesting that, unlike other whales, they can go 14 mph in short bursts. On average, they can only go around five mph. That is quite a difference compared to the orca whale that swims almost 30 mph!

12. Leafy Sea Dragon

one of the most amazing ocean aniamsl is the Sea Dragon

;Leafy sea dragons have the best camouflage around

©EyeKarma (original photograph); Papa Lima Whiskey (derivative edit) / public domain – Original / License

So when you wonder if dragons exist, you probably aren’t expecting them to be miniature leafy-looking horses that live in the ocean. This amazing ocean animal isn’t related to an actual dragon, sadly. It is, however, related to the sea horse. Even though leafy sea dragons have fantastic camouflage skills and have no known enemies, they are near threatened. This is because of human factors such as developments and pollution. Leafy sea dragons are delicate creatures that people used to keep as pets. That didn’t help their population increase; it set them back and may be another contributing factor to why their population has dwindled. 

Summary of 12 Amazing Ocean Animals

RankOcean Animal
1Dumbo Octopus
3Japanese Spider Crab
4Red Lionfish
5Blue Glaucus
6Peacock Mantis Shrimp
7Hawaiian Bobtail Squid
9Dwarf Lantern Shark 
10Harp Seal
11Beluga Whales
12Leafy Sea Dragon
Summary Table of 12 Amazing Ocean Animals

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

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