Australians love the ocean. The people of the world’s largest island nation like nothing better than a swim on a sun-soaked stretch of sand. Diving and snorkelling and all sorts of water activities are a part of everyday life, and when you’ve got beaches as we do, it makes perfect sense. Fishing is also a hugely popular past time, and it helps that Australia is home to some of the world’s most delicious sea creatures. But prawns, crayfish and barramundi are not what we’re focusing on today. Unbeknownst to most of Australia’s beach-going public, there’s a whole range of weird and wonderful creatures lurking just off the coast. Whether hiding among Australia’s stunning coral reefs, lurking deep in the depths or bobbing along the surface, there’s a whole treasure trove of water-based aliens to check out. Here are some of our favourites for you to investigate next time you’re having a snorkel, dive or even just a wade.
These strange, plant-like creatures anchor themselves to a reef and hide amongst the bright corals and anemones.
But these undersea ferns aren’t rooted in any one place and will swim, float and even walk their way around the seafloor in search of a better spot.
Though it’s got a disc-like body, this weird little fish was not named after the famous cookie.
Oreosoma actually means ‘mountain body’, because if you turn one upside down you’ll get a silhouette that looks a lot like a mountain range.
The Bubble Snail
How good are all these names! This little beauty is maybe the most spectacular looking specimen on this list. Looking like someone melted a disco ball, the bubble snail has a pink shell with smooth curves and fluoro colouring.
Full disclosure, this thing is really hard to find in Australia. But it’s such a cool looking specimen we had to throw it in.
The Megamouth Shark
Another great name, and another species so rare there’s only ever been fifty-three sightings reported. With a huge blunt head and hollow eye slots, it’s also one of the weirder looking beasties on this list.
Only one has been reported in Australia, in Mandurah, Western Australia to be precise. The shark washed up on a beach way back in 1988. It was captured still alive and then preserved by scientists from the Western Australian Museum, where it’s still on display.
This slender and translucent fish is unique in many ways. Way number 1: it has no scales. Way number 2: It lives in the anus of sea cucumbers. I am not making that up.
Okay okay, so it doesn’t ONLY live in the anus of sea cucumbers. Pearlfish make their homes in the bodies cavities of various different invertebrates like clams, oysters and starfish.
You can find these little wonders of the coast of every Australian state bar South Australia. Not sure why.
If you’ve ever seen a sponge crab you’re doing extremely well for yourself. While most crabs rely on hard shells, crazy patterns and crushing pincers for protection, these crabs wear live sponges like hats. I promise I am not making this up.
It’s actually super cute to see these little crabs peering out from under a blanket of sponge. You can find them on rock and coral reefs across the top of Australia.
So how’s that for weird and wonderful?! If you’ve got any other favourites you think we missed let us know.