The Tropical Seas
The Mediterranean and Tropical Atlantic
This very productive area of warm ocean has a range of notable creatures.
Zitiron are a fish of an extremely ancient Devonian pedigree, with a heavily armoured front end. They feed mainly on the sea floor, on soft-bodied invertebrates and various kinds of seaweed. 2.5 meters long, 130 kilograms. Bothriolepidae.
Icthyocentaurs are a common kind of large marine primate. They forage in near shore waters for various seaweeds and meaty invertebrates, slow-swimming fish are also taken. 2.5 meters long, 120 kilograms. Cercopithecoidea.
Ketos are the most feared sea monster in all of the Mediterranean, though they range well into the tropical Atlantic. They have the ravenous hunger of a shark and the cold malice of a snake. Their serrated profile is distinctive. 10 meters long, 11 tons. Mosasauridae.
Capricorns are elusive but rather ornate sharks which pose little threat to humans. These medium-sized sharks feed mainly on fish and squid, and are generally shy. Their horns give a distinctive, goat-like profile. 3 meters long, 90 kilograms. Hybodontidae.
Gambo are more unusual than they seem, the last of an ancient lineage that lived alongside the dinosaurs. These dolphin-shaped reptiles usually frequent warm near shore waters to a depth of 100 meters. 4.6 meters long 170 kilograms. Champsosauridae.
Orabou is a kind of crocodile which has a short face and large teeth. It feeds mainly in the shallows, on fish, seabirds and crabs. It is found mainly in the Red Sea, in particular the shallower parts. 3 meters long, 170 kilograms. Crocodylidae.
Stella is a kind of starfish as large as a person’s hand. It secretes toxic mucus as a defence; this substance causes a severe burning sensation and a rash when handled. 17 centimetres across. Asteriidae.
Sea cock/Sea hen. This large rail is common in coastal marshes, estuaries, beaches and shallow sea. It is an omnivore which feeds abundantly by combing the beaches and shallows for seaweed, crabs, worms and stranded fish. 50 centimetres tall, 2.8 kilograms. Rallidae.
Sea Bee, these small sea-catfish are fairly common in the reefs of the tropical Mediterranean. A sting from their dorsal-fin spine is extremely painful, but not usually fatal. Their sides bear an alternating pattern of silvery-yellow and dark black bands, as warning colours. 25 centimetres long. Ariidae.
Caribbean Islands and Atlantic coast of Central and South America
These mysterious Neotropical waters are home to numerous odd and ferocious creatures.
The Aloes is a Plesiosaur similar in size to a typical sea turtle, common throughout the Caribbean Islands. It resembles a goose when resting on the surface. It usually gives birth to a single large young in estuarine waters. 2 meters long, 100 kilograms. Plesiosauria.
The Cipactli, a very large marine crocodile of archaic lineage, found throughout the equatorial seas of Central America. Famous for being pugnacious and greedy, they feed on fish, young cetaceans, small sea turtles and cephalopods. They will kill and consume people lost at sea or out swimming. 11 meters long, 6 tons. Teleosauridae.
Lusca are found mainly in the Caribbean, but can range as far as West Africa. Relatively secretive predators, they feed on a wide range of prey, including large fish, other cephalopods and young cetaceans. They will attack ships and eat sailors. Residing in deep water during the day, they move to shallow waters to feed at night. 20 meters arm-span, 19 tons. Cirrina.
Mastopogon are large predatory fish which are found in the oceans around northern South America. A pair of growths commonly adorn the throat region of older individuals, though resembling breasts they are actually bony calcium deposits related to hormone production. 5 meters long, 3.7 tons. Sciaenidae.
The indian ocean and indo-pacific region
Animals found in this area often have great significance in folklore, borne from their uniqueness or ferocity.
Saratan/Zaratan, a giant swimmer crab, with relatively light armour and very oily flesh. Always swims close to the surface, creating a shadow that can attract small prey below. Myths likening it to islands are exaggerated in the extreme. Maximum width 3.5 meters, 200 kilograms. Portunidae.
Caspilly, a giant scorpion fish, found in the Arabian Sea at varying depths. To defend itself from predatory whales and leviathans, it has large venomous spines, the largest being at the front of its dorsal fin. This javelin-like fin spike can be used as a weapon. 3 meters long, 150 kilograms. Scorpaenidae.
Makara are archaic whales found throughout much of the Indian Ocean, most common in the Bay of Bengal. They have large trunk-like noses with which they forage for bottom-dwelling invertebrates and fish. 12 meters long, 7 tons. Protocetidae.
Bakunawa are sparsely populated but widespread throughout the Indo-pacific. Huge whale-like sharks that filter feed in the open ocean, on tiny baitfish and crustaceans that swarm near the surface. The large capacious mouth has given rise to the myth that it can swallow the moon. 20-23 meters long, 30 tons. Orectolobiformes.
Rainbow-fish, a giant snapper which is common in both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Usually hunts prey smaller than it, including sharks and smaller members of its species, saratan are also taken. Hard to catch in general, when one is landed it can feed hundreds of people. 13 meters long, 8 tons. Sparidae.
The tropical pacific
These Asian and Australasian waters feature many unique creatures, some obscure and some significant.
Yellowbelly, an odd jawless fish common in the waters of tropical Asia and Northern Australia. Generally prefers shallow sea-bottoms where they feed on soft-bodied invertebrates. 22 meters long, 6 tons. Cephalaspidae.
Imugi are exceptionally large marine snakes. They have large, stiff-boned heads with ferocious teeth. Commonly associated with the myths of dragons in Asia. 14 meters long, 1.5 tons. Palaeophiidae.
Moha-moha, a giant archaic fish which is relatively common along the eastern coast of Australia. Having an armoured fore-body and shark-like tail, it resembles a hybrid of fish and turtle. 6 meters long, 4 tons. Arthrodira.
Cetacean Scolopendra are elongate, toothed cetaceans that have a series of paired dorsal fins along their back, vaguely resembling the plates of an armoured dinosaur. It is thought that their cast-up remains may have contributed to Asian myths of dragons. 15 meters, 12 tons. Odontoceti.
Camphruch are unusual goat-like animals which are adapted to browse in coastal swamps and mangroves. They swim well and have webbed hind feet resembling a camel. The main horn is long and sharp, mainly used in defence. 1.5 meters tall, 45 kilograms. Bovidae.
Winged turtles are medium-sized sea turtles which are able to swim quite fast with their large, wing-like flippers. They feed on bottom-dwelling animals such as flatfish, stonefish, sea-cucumbers, cuttlefish and octopus. Found mainly around the islands of the south-pacific. 1.5 meters long, 70 kilograms. Cheloniidae.
Adaro are common throughout the Solomon Islands and the eastern coastal waters of New Guinea. Closely related to the goblin shark, they are slow-swimming shallow-water predators. Up to 3 meters long, 100 kilograms. Mitsukurhinidae.