Prickly Sea Animals

Many animals use their teeth and paws to fight enemies. Others don't need to struggle as they use camouflage so they will not become easy targets. Some species come already prepared for battle by being born with body parts that shouts, "Don't touch me, or else!" Just like these underwater creatures.

Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star
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This echinoderm can grow to more than one meter in diameter, making it the world’s second largest seastar. It was named for its long, sharp, venomous spines that cover its entire upper body. Seastars are typically known to have five arms but the crown-of-thorns has 7 to 23 toxic spines. Being voracious predators of corals, they are notorious for their devastating impact on coral reef ecosystems.

Sea Urchin

Urchins are small, spherical sea creatures with bodies covered in spiny shell. Despite their sharp spines, they are a big hit gastronomically among wolf eels, triggerfish, sea otters and humans. Their gonads are a culinary delicacy in many parts of the world. These slow moving creatures eat algae, sea cucumber, and many kinds of invertebrates, including mussels and brittle stars. Their movable spines, which can cause a painful wound when they puncture human skin are not dangerous.


The stonefish don’t simply have spines. It has 13 grooved, needle-like dorsal fin spines packed with potent neurotoxins. Anytime the fish is disturbed, the spines will stick up and secrete venom. Should a human step into them, the sensation is not just painful, it is excruciating and deadly; it may cause paralysis, shock and tissue death.

Prickly Shark

While most sharks are covered with rough, sandpaper-like skin called dermal denticles, the prickly shark’s scales are sharp and thorn-like. Although bottom-dwelling in nature, this slow swimmer frequents shallow waters making it susceptible to incidental capture. Prickly sharks are harmless and you will not hear of any prickly sharp recipe because their meat, being soft and of poor quality, have no commercial value.

Spiny King Crab
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The Spiny King Crab, also known as California King Crab, is a deep sea crab measuring 6 inches across with legs reaching 1 foot in diameter. They eat sea stars, other crabs and also food scraps that fall to the ocean floor. They are distinctively spiny, with their carapace and legs covered in very long spikes. Like other king crabs, spiny kings are widely caught for human consumption.

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Lionfish are native to the reefs, lagoons and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific. They are distinguished by their attractive red, white and black stripes, showy pectoral fins and venomous spiky fin rays. Their 11-18 needle-like dorsal fins can sting humans and cause nausea and breathing difficulties. Sharp fins aside, lionfish meat have been found to be a wonderful addition in seafood cuisine. They are also highly valued in the aquarium trade.

Sea Mouse
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It is a furry marine worm that looks and moves like a mouse, burrowing and creeping in the sandy or muddy seabed as it scavenge for food. Sea mice have oblong bodies that can reach up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. Their back is either partially or completely covered with dense hair and stiff spines called setae which glow with iridescent colors when it reflects sunlight. The sharp bristles can cause severe irritation when it pricks the skin.


This poor swimmer has large eyes and beak-like teeth. They can be found in shallow waters in tropical seas worldwide. Their short and broad bodies are surrounded with spines that lie flat. When threatened, they swallow large amounts of water or air so they will balloon to almost three times their normal size and their spines stick out making them look intimidating. Some species are also armed with tetrodotoxin, a poison that makes them foul-tasting and deadly to their enemies.


Seahorses are a kind of fish that have long, equine-like look and a curled tail. Instead of scales, they are covered in armored plates and spines throughout their bodies. They have no teeth and no stomach. These upright-swimming fish can reach up to 14 inches (35 cm) long. They are known to be the only animal in the planet in which the male gets pregnant and gives birth to babies. They are also known for being monogamous and mate for life.