Goblin Shark vs Anglerfish: Which Is The Creepiest Sea Creature Of Them All?

Anglerfish - Female with Male Attached
© Neil Bromhall/Shutterstock.com

Written by Megan Martin

Published: April 15, 2022

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While you may not have to worry about confusing the goblin shark and the anglerfish like some other creatures under the sea, do you know just how different they are? Or, when it comes to the goblin shark vs anglerfish, do you know which is the creepiest?

Both of these sea creatures live far beneath the surface, but they’re anything but the same. From different habitats to different diets to different (although creepy) appearances, there is a long list of facts to set the goblin shark apart from the anglerfish. Ready to learn some of the top differences? Let’s dive in!

Comparing the Goblin Shark vs Anglerfish

Anglerfish vs Goblin Shark
Goblin sharks and anglerfish are both deep sea fish that are notable for their unique appearances.

There are many differences between the goblin shark and the anglerfish. We’ve curated some of the top key differences and listed them below to help you learn just what makes each of these underwater species unique. 

Goblin SharkAnglerfish
Lifespan (Estimate)60 years30 years
HabitatOcean floorsDeep sea waters
RangePacific ocean Atlantic ocean and Antarctic ocean
Size9.8 feet to 13.1 feetUp to 4 feet
Weight330 to 460 poundsUp to 110 pounds
TeethLong, slender teeth up to 2 cm longLong, sharp teeth
DietFish, cephalopods, and crustaceansFish, crustaceans 
Key Differences between Goblin Shark Vs Anglerfish

Goblin Shark vs Anglerfish: 5 Key Differences

goblin shark in ocean

The goblin shark is scary given its size of over 12 feet.


The goblin shark and the anglerfish have many differences. First, the goblin shark is nearly double the size of the anglerfish, and it can weigh as much as four times that of the largest anglerfish. The goblin shark also has an older history and a larger lifespan. However, when it comes to reproduction, the goblin shark is fairly similar to most other sharks and marine wildlife, while the anglerfish mates in a shocking and unexpected way that involves absorbing their partner into their body.

Ready to learn more about these differences? Let’s jump right into the top five differences between the goblin shark vs anglerfish!

Hunting Techniques

Few things set the goblin shark apart from the anglerfish than their hunting techniques. 

The goblin shark is easily one of the creepiest hunters in the ocean. Their small eyes allow them to easily catch even a glimpse of movement along the pitch-black ocean floor. Because they’re relatively slow and poor swimmers, they aren’t able to catch nimble prey like certain fish. However, once they find a slower prey of choice, like crustaceans, they extend their jaw in order to catch them. You can see more in the video below, it’s quite remarkable how its jaws thrust out of its body to catch prey.

The anglerfish has a different approach – and it has to do with its name. The word angler is almost a perfect synonym for someone who fishes, and that’s exactly how the anglerfish catch their prey. You’ve probably seen an anglerfish before, especially in movies. They’re large fish with a growth extending from their head, one that usually lights up. In the dark waters hundreds of meters beneath the surface, this glowing body part acts as a lure to help draw small prey in, such as fish, so that the anglerfish can eat it. 


glowing anglerfish in dark waters

Female anglerfish can extend their jaw wide enough to consume creatures up to twice their size.

©Neil Bromhall/Shutterstock.com

Much like Texas, everything is larger the deeper into the ocean you go, and the goblin shark is no exception. Despite having a fairly limited diet of small prey, these prehistoric sharks can grow to be up to 13 feet long. However, some extra rare specimens have been caught and measured to be around 18 feet! That’s the same size as a giraffe from foot to head. 

In comparison, the anglerfish only grow to be 4 feet long, and this is usually females only. Males can be much smaller than their female counterparts, and, as a result, only a fraction of the size of the goblin shark. 

As for weight, it can take nearly four anglerfish of maximum size to weigh the same as the largest goblin sharks! With a size comparison like that, it seems that the comparison of which is the creepiest between the goblin shark and the anglerfish leans more towards the goblin shark. 


Anglerfish - Female with Male Attached

An anglerfish female with a male attached.

©Neil Bromhall/Shutterstock.com

Although both the goblin shark and the anglerfish won’t be caught near the surface, they live in widely different habitats.

The goblin shark is found along the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, some have most commonly been seen around Japan. The anglerfish, however, is known to live in cold deep waters, like the Atlantic and Antarctic oceans. Here, they live up to 1000 meters deep – not close to the surface, but also not on the bottom of the ocean.  


The goblin shark is believed to have first appeared as a species around 125 million years ago – a history that has earned them the name of “living fossil”.  In comparison, the anglerfish may have evolved as recently as 100 million years ago.

While this is an interesting comparison to make between the goblin shark vs anglerfish, it’s important to note that both the goblin shark and the anglerfish most likely cohabited the ocean with dinosaurs at some point in their history! Another fun fact: both are also younger species than crocodilians, which appeared some 245 million years ago


Model of goblin shark in museum

Goblin sharks can extend their jaws to catch their prey

©Peter Halasz (User:Pengo) / CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Scientists have a better understanding of the anglerfish’s lifespan compared to the goblin shark’s. This is because the anglerfish are much less rare than the goblin shark, although you’re still unlikely to stumble across one in your average fishing trip.

Most anglerfish live to be around 30 years old, while scientists estimate that goblin sharks have double the time with a lifespan of 60 years. 


Despite being so different from some of their surface cousins, goblin sharks actually mate just like most of the sharks you may be familiar with. During mating season, goblin sharks mate through internal fertilization, which is common with most marine animals. They then give birth to live baby sharks, known as pups. 

Anglerfish have a much different – and much creepier – approach to mating. First, it’s important to realize that male anglerfish are much smaller than their female counterparts. As a result, they’re able to bite onto the female’s belly and eventually completely morph into a part of their body where the female is able to access the remaining internal organs of the male in order to complete internal fertilization. 


Dumbest Animals in the World: Goblin Shark

Goblin sharks have small eyes but their eyesight isn’t poor.

©Peter Halasz / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

There’s no denying that while the goblin shark and the anglerfish are anything but equal, they’re equally creepy in their own ways. Both have a startling and shocking appearance, although the goblin shark is much larger and has a creepier way of catching prey. The anglerfish, however, is much creepier when it comes to reproduction – and the fact they’re much less rare. 

As a result, the anglerfish may be the creepiest sea creature of them all because you’re more likely to stumble across them in the ocean than the goblin shark, who lives in some of the deepest parts of the Pacific ocean. 

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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