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Terrestrial Sea Life

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It's not usually wise to be chummy with a shark.

Aquatic animals capture people's imagination, as they can be both beautiful and terrifying. However, having them interact with human characters is complicated, since they live in a very different element. The solution: give them a way to live on land, of course!

Compare Flying Seafood Special, Sand Is Water. Many examples of Giant Enemy Crab and/or Fish People fall under this trope as well, though neither is exclusively terrestrial. May involve Tailfin Walking. See also Misplaced Wildlife, of which this is a fairly extreme form.

Not to be confused with Fish out of Water, which is something else entirely.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fishmen in One Piece are one such example of amphibious cases of this.

  • A few of the more recognizable demons appearing in the works of Hieronymus Bosch appear to be weird, bipedal fish-things.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 16, a fish named Bro Groupie unexpectedly shows up to play in the Rainbow Games and gets Weslie and Paddi to help him past an obstacle in a maze. As the fish explains, he does naturally live in water, but he and his pals are taking a vacation for the games.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Deep Ones from H. P. Lovecraft's stories are a race of amphibian Fish People who can dwell on land with no problem.
  • Mr. Shark and Mr. Piranha from The Bad Guys are seen on land for a majority of the book series. They're only seen in the water during specified missions, and even then, Mr. Piranha can only swim in freshwater.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Rutan Host from "Horror of Fang Rock" appear to be large, green terrestrial jellyfish with innate electrical abilities enabling them to move about on land using something akin to static cling, which also enables them to easily scale sheer vertical surfaces.
    • The titular Macra from "The Macra Terror" are human-sized, sentient crabs that feed on noxious gas. They later reappeared in "Gridlock", having evolved to much larger size in the intervening time but losing their sentience in the process.
    • The Hath, Fish People appearing in "The Doctor's Daughter" are a weird example, since they apparently live their entire lives on land, despite requiring what can best be described as "reverse scuba gear" in order to breath (though the liquid in the tanks is green, so it's possible that they just breath a different atmosphere than humans do, and have condensed their native "air" into liquid form for easier transport).
  • Chevy Chase's "Land Shark" sketches on Saturday Night Live.
  • The Speculative Documentary The Future Is Wild features several species of terrestrial cephalopods that appeared 200 million years after humankind's extinction, including the enormous, elephant-like Megasquid and the tree-dwelling, monkey-like Squibbon.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The akhlut from Inuit Mythology is basically a quadrupedal killer whale with wolflike attributes that climbs up on land in order to hunt terrestrial prey.
  • While traditional tellings of the Nameless Thing of Berkley Square describe the tentacled creature as some bizarre sort of demon or corporeal ghost, cryptozoologists have suggested that it may instead be some sort of mutated octopus with the ability to survive on land.
  • The Darwin Fish bumper sticker, a popular parody of similar Jesus Fish stickers, is an ichthys with little legs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • White Plume Mountain (1979). The Giant Enemy Crab the PCs encounter is living out of water without any problems.
    • Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia (1980). In the world of Nehwon, the Behemoth is a 40-foot-long killer whale with four stubby legs that can move around on land. There are three varieties: the swamp behemoth, an arctic version with white fur and a jet-black type with long legs that lives in the plains and hills.
    • Monster Manual II (1983). The Land Urchin is a large (three feet wide) land-dwelling relative of the sea urchin with five legs. It can fire its spines at opponents and prey.

  • In Octodad, you play an octopus who put on a suit, started walking on two legs, and began pretending to be a human. The whole point of the game is to keep Octodad from acting inhuman so he can keep up his charade.
  • The citizens of Psychonauts's Lungfishopolis are all Hideous Hulking Lungfish (basically angler fish with arms and legs), hence the name, but live in a terrestrial city based on Tokyo as portrayed in '60s Kaiju films (casting the human protagonist and villain as the Kaiju). However, this trope is largely Subverted by Linda, the Hideous Hulking Lungfish whose Mental World Lungfishopolis is, who never ventures onto shore for more than the few seconds it takes to pick up or drop off the protagonist on the shore.
  • Splatoon has the Inklings, which are humanoid squid that live on land. In fact, they actually dissolve when immersed in water. Their rivals the Octarians, who are humanoid octopuses, have the same weakness. There also happens to be terrestrial forms of other sea life such as sea urchins and the jellyfish common all over Inkopolis as well.
  • The Warcraft franchise has several species of amphibious humanoids resembling aquatic creatures. The Murlocs are savage, barbaric Fish Men, the Jinyu are their more civilized relatives who live in Pandaria and practice water magic, and the Naga are eel-like Snake People descended from mutated elves.
  • The hanar from Mass Effect are normally jellyfish-like beings who live in water, but thanks to special mass effect equipment they can live on land and interact with many other terrestrial beings of the galaxy.
  • Pikmin:
    • The first game features a type of rare enemy — only three appear — called pearly clamclamps, creatures almost identical to scallops in most respects... except that two of them found sitting on the forest floor, well away from water.
      Olimar: "One would expect this creature to be a mollusk of the sea, but the fact that it is also found in the forest is typical of this planet's oddities."
    • Pikmin 3 introduces waddlepuses, creatures resembling small purple octopi. While this trope is downplayed somewhat — all waddlepuses are found in the game's water-themed area — very few of them are actually in the water: almost all waddlepuses are encountered napping on dry land.
  • Save Me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San features an octopus named Mr Tako who, after rescuing a woman from drowning, is granted the ability to survive on land, as he attempts to resolve the conflicts between his own kind and the land-dwelling humans.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World features sea life on land as enemies. Dolphins, crabs, seahorses and octopi (and the Underground Monkey versions of the latter three) all appear on land with no problem to attack Cthulhu and his party. One of the bosses in the game is a land-dwelling fire-powered whale known as Fire Whale. Deep Ones and their variations also have no problem with attacking Cthulhu on land.
  • The Animal Crossing series features both octipi and dolphins as house-dwelling neighbors.
  • Puyo Puyo:
    • Suketoudara is a talking, land-dwelling fish with arms and legs. His main character trait is his love of dancing, though he does make lots of ocean-based puns too.
    • Suketoudara's Fever era equivalent, the Ocean Prince (Prince Salde in the Japanese originals), is exactly what he sounds like - an anthropomorphic fish who happens to be the prince of the sea. Him breathing on land can be justified because he actually is biologically a human, but willingly let himself be transformed into a fish to avoid his royal duties.

    Web Original 
  • The tribbets from Serina are terrestrial descendants of guppies introduced to the titular terraformed moon. While the earliest forms resembled mudskippers, they later evolve into three-legged analogues of frogs and lizards, and one lineage, the furry, warm-blooded tribbetheres, develop erect limbs and mobile ear pinnae from their gill covers, essentially becoming a Fantastic Fauna Counterpart of mammals.
  • The titular endangered cephalopod of the notorious "Save the Pacific Northwest tree octopus" internet hoax was said to live in the treetops of the Olympic National Forest, only returning to the water in order to spawn.
  • This Tumblr discussion, analyzing on how a terrestrial cetacean would probably evolve.

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is an interesting example.
    • The show takes place underwater and most of its cast is made up of aquatic creatures, yet they all act as if they were on dry land, walking on the sea floor rather than swimming. They occasionally visit the surface world, but how well they survive there varies from one instance to the next.
    • The character of Sandy Cheeks is an inversion. She's a "land squirrel" who lives in an underwater dome, and is able to get around in a diving suit.
  • Darwin from The Amazing World of Gumball is a goldfish who evolved to grow legs and lungs.
  • Jabberjaw is a shark who is able to walk around and breath air no problem. He lives among humans in an undersea civilization, but no explanation is given as to how he can survive out of water.
  • The main cast of Street Sharks are a gang of teenage boys turned into anthropomorphic sharks, who primarily live on land, and can swim through concrete by biting through it.
  • Dave the octopus and his squid minions in Penguins of Madagascar spend all their time on land. In fact, Dave is able to disguise himself as a human.
  • Sid the Squid, one of Walter Wolf's lackeys in Animaniacs is shown on land so much that he never appears in the ocean in any of he episodes he shows up in.
  • The titular main character in Kenny the Shark is a tiger shark who moved onto land from the ocean.

    Real Life 
  • Crabs:
    • There are several species of land-dwelling crabs (mostly hermit crabs), ranging from mostly-aquatic crabs whose migrations take them on surprisingly long journeys across dry land, to others that legitimately live on land full time. Most of the fully terrestrial crabs must still keep themselves damp in order to survive — some preferring to spend their entire lives within sight of a known body of water, others cleverly using their hermit shells as makeshift water-tanks — but many are better adapted to life on land and require no such accommodation.
    • The coconut crab is actually so well adapted to life on land that it can't swim or breath underwater at all (though it can apparently hold its breath for about an hour). Its also notable for being both the largest terrestrial invertebrate on earth—often growing to over 3 feet across (about the size of an adult human torso!), which some scientists believe may be the largest any terrestrial arthropod can grow in the current makeup of the earth's atmosphere—and the only species of hermit crab with a hard enough carapace to protect itself without having to scavenge another creature's discarded shell to live out of.
    • Even aquatic crabs can survive out of the water more or less indefinitely so long as their gills stay moist (such as in damp, humid environments), but prefer not to.
  • Snails and slugs technically count, being the only members of the otherwise exclusively aquatic mollusc phylum to evolve for life on land, though most people consider sea-snails to be the aquatic equivalent of their terrestrial brethren rather than the other way around.
  • Mudskippers are amphibious fish that spend significant amount of time on land.
  • Though not exactly terrestrial, the walking catfish of Southeast Asia can survive for up to several days on land, capable of breathing air and slithering long distances out of the water. In many places of North America, the walking catfish has become an invasive pest, traveling between bodies of water and preying on the resident fish.
  • Woodlice (also known as pillbugs) are crustaceans from the order Isopoda who live on land, in dark, humid places. They have numerous aquatic relatives, including freshwater isopods and giant marine ones.
  • In prehistoric times, there were several varieties of long-legged land-dwelling crocodilians, including the large and imposingly named Carnufex carolinensis or "Carolina Butcher", most of which had died off by the end of the Late Cretaceous leaving only the aquatic ones we know today.
  • Most of the earliest land creatures to evolve were terrestrial versions of either fish or early aquatic arthropods.
  • Many early naturalists believed that every land creature had a marine counterpart, and vice versa, though the overwhelming number of creatures with no identified counterpart eventually led to this belief being discarded.
  • There were multiple terrestrial crocodilians even up to Cenozoic times. Pristichampsus, for example, was top predator in the northern hemisphere, while sebecids, which had survived the Cretaceous Mass Extinction, emerged as the largest land predators since the non-avian dinosaurs. And there are even some modern terrestrial crocodiles: the last of them were wiped out by humans a mere four thousand years ago, and before this we wiped out another terrestrial crocodilian in Australia.
    • Several living crocodilians, such as the dwarf caiman, dwarf crocodile and Cuban crocodile, are very at home on land. The first two actually spend most of their time in forests where they hunt smaller animals.
  • The Abdopus octopus can hunt on land when the tide goes out.


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