5 Weirdest Sea Creatures You’ll See at the Birch Aquarium

Image: Facebook

No need to travel to the bottom of the ocean: In just a few minutes’ drive, you can have a close encounter with some of the weirdest sea creatures at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium. From killer shrimp (totally real!) to walking “fish” these unique underwater creatures will mesmerize young and old. Bonus: this trip makes for a great family-friendly activity.

Giant Pacific Octopus: Enteroctopus dofleini

Giant Pacific octopuses (top image) is a great contender for the largest octopus species weighing up to 157 pounds and measuring 11 feet long! These intimidating creatures are a deep ruby color, as you can tell from the Birch Aquarium’s female Giant Pacific octopus. Many of the suckers on her tentacles are actually lined with small hooks or hairs to help grip. We’re told that “[when she’s] moving around, it’s a sight to see to say the least.” Giant Pacific octopuses can be found around the Pacific Rim (western coast of North America and eastern coast of Asia) down to Japan. There are three other types of giant octopuses, found around the southwestern tip of Africa, the southeastern tip of South America, and New Zealand.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Leafy Seadragon: Phycodurus Eques

The mysterious Leafy Seadragon was named after its leaf-like shape and resemblance to the mythical Chinese dragon. A close relative to Sea Horses, Sea Dragons are much larger with leaf-like appendages and when fully grown they can measure up to 18 inches. Their leaf-like appearance enables them to camouflage quite well into floating seaweed. These sea creatures are fascinating to watch as their body hardly moves.  Their movement comes from translucent fins found on the sides of their heads and dorsal fins. It’s almost as though an invisible force is helping them move, causing them to glide in slow and grace-like patterns.  [source: yankalilla.com]

Image: Roy L. Caldwell 

Killer Shrimp: Dikerogammarus Villosus

“Killer Shrimp from the Sea” sounds like a sci-fi thriller, but in the case of the mantis shrimp, truth is stranger than fiction! This weird marine animal has several species that fall into two categories: spearers and smashers. Spearers skewer their prey with jagged spear-like claws and eat them. Smashers punch prey with club-like claws, but this isn’t just any punch. Smasher punches are so fast that vacuums of air are formed in the water as the punch travels to the prey. These vacuums then collapse, creating a shock that is so intense that it actually produces light and heat! Mantis shrimp are very colorful and have a shimmering psychedelic appearance that is made even weirder by their two eyes that have three pupils each.


Loggerhead Sea Turtle: Caretta caretta

Loggerhead sea turtles are the largest hard-shelled turtles in the world and have been spotted off the shores of La Jolla! Sadly, loggerhead turtles (pictured above) are becoming more and more rare. These turtles are an endangered species due to worldwide loss of nesting habitats and commercial fishing practices that accidentally trap and kill turtles. The Aquarium’s loggerhead turtle was rescued and resides here permanently after it was declared unable to safely return to the ocean. Loggerheads’ backs are host to over 100 animal species and 37 algae species, making this gal a home to many. It’s not clear if these species affect their host turtles, but their presence does hide shell colors and may improve camouflaging ability. You can find a video of the Birch Aquarium’s loggerhead here and see her gorgeous yellow, gold and brown shell for yourself!


Flamboyant Cuttlefish: Metasepia pfefferi

The flamboyant cuttlefish, named for its bright pink, red, and yellow colors, is a poisonous variety of cuttlefish. Their toxic nature is not only conveyed through their bright colors, but a certain wiggly walk they perform across the ocean floor. The flamboyant cuttlefish is the only type of cuttlefish that can walk. Confusingly, cuttlefish are actually mollusks, not fish, and belong to the same family as octopuses and squid. The eyes of cuttlefish have a “W”-shaped pupil instead of the round one seen in humans! When cuttlefish look and focus their eyes, the lens inside the eye moves relative to the retina instead of staying in place and reshaping as it does in humans.



Featured Articles

3 Shocking Murders That Rocked La Jolla

3 Shocking Murders That Rocked La Jolla La Jolla isn't your typical murder scene backdrop. The cozy, sleepy, seaside town is rarely in the news for any kind of crime, let alone an act as appalling as a violent murder....

read more

We love to hear from our fans, so we want to know what YOU want to see on our Facebook page. Leave a comment below and tell us! ...

View on Facebook

Q: What is one thing you would like to check off your to-do list next time you visit La Jolla? ...

View on Facebook
  • Support local busine
  • Going to brunch in L
  • We made it easier to
  • Make it a real vacat
  • Make it a real vacat
  • Experience La Jolla
  • The Spa at Torrey Pi
  • Get the rundown on t
  • Get the rundown on t
  • Get the rundown on t
  • Did you know the Edw
  • Explore like a local
  • Spend an afternoon s
  • Get your dream engag
  • Any season is good f
  • Make it a perfect ni
  • Looking for a fantas
  • While La Jolla can s
  • Short on cash and wo
  • The La Jolla tide po
  • The La Jolla tide po
  • Ocean front hotels i
  • Best La Jolla Cove H
  • La Jolla Cove Guide
  • Murals of La Jolla
Follow Me on Pinterest


Sign-up to get the latest La Jolla news straight to your inbox.