Does the thought of what could be lurking in the deep dark ocean waters send shivers down your spine? If so, you might have thalassophobia – a fear of the sea and what lives beneath it. But we’ve come to realize that you don’t need to actually get in the water to feel spooked about the ocean.
We’ve collected the most hair-raising photos that’ll be sure to keep you out of the ocean depths. From the vast emptiness of the sea to its bloodcurdling beasts, there’s definitely good reason to want to be as far from it as possible. Scroll at your own risk!
Don’t Look Down
When you think about swimming in the deep blue ocean, how do you feel? Better yet, how do you feel about large underwater objects and sea creatures in the ocean? If the idea terrifies you as much as it does us, you might have megalohydrothalassophobia. Yep, it’s a real thing and that’s actually how you spell it.
In this god-forsaken image, and Orca killer whale lurks just below the surface of the ocean, observing the inflatable dinghy that has men aboard. It just goes to show how unpredictable and dangerous the sea can be, considering how ruthless Orcas are known to be. We just want to know why the cameraman didn’t prioritize informing the people onboard!
A Whirlwind of Fish
We usually think of ourselves as higher up on the food chain when compared with fish. And while that’s probably the case when we’re faced with only one, when there’s a whole school of fish it’s another story entirely. Just look at how the collective mass of these fish dwarfs the scuba diver.
These fish are schooling together, which is the act of swimming in the same direction in a specific and coordinated way. It is a way for them to better protect against sea predators, and it’s quite a skill to master. Fish need to be well-coordinated to keep up with the rest of the group, and synchronize their movements. We think it’s amazing that together, they’ve made a tornado shape.
Not In a Million Years
No, this photo hasn’t been doctored – what you see in the approaching waves is what was actually there. But if it’s any comfort to you, those long, tentacle-like arms don’t belong to a sea creature at all; they’re actually just large kelps near the shore that are terrifyingly illuminated by the light behind them.
We don’t know what’s going on with this surfer but there’s no way we’d dare catch some waves after seeing this. The spine-chilling kelp display actually occurs in a few places around the world, and just happens to look like a deepest and darkest nightmares. But it’s actually harmless… if you want to believe that.
We Were Told the Kraken was a Myth
Remember childhood tales of a giant cephalopod sea monster from Scandinavia? Like with so many legends we grew out of believing in them, but we should have held on to just this one. Meet the largest sea cephalopod in the world, the legendary North Pacific giant octopus.
The giant pacific octopus can grow up to 16 feet and has been known to weigh up to 110 pounds. They are also the longest living octopus species, usually surviving to around four years of age. They tend to die not long after breeding, with females usually starving to death after months of tending to her eggs. The male, however, only survives a few short months after breeding.
Careful Where You Step
Imagine while diving you’re walking along the sea floor and stumble upon these little critters. While the smallest among them are about the size of a worm, the larger ones are as long as a common grass snake. The way they’re all rearing up is really bringing out the ophidiophobia in us.
This is actually a colony of gardens eels, but don’t be fooled by the name. You won’t find them in your local pond, but rather in the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. They live under the seafloor, occasionally poking their heads out from the burrows. And worst of all, while they do this most of their body stays underground!
Creepy Coastal Construction
You’ve got to be pretty brave to swim into the heart of an oil rig if you ask us. This diver is exploring the varied ecosystem of an oil well structure, where the sea creatures have taken over. Not only does the whole place give us the creeps, but we can’t imagine exploring the dark corners where anything could be living.
This freediver dove just off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, making it the ocean basin of the Atlantic sea. The warmer sea temperature makes for a lively and diverse ecosystem with several thousands of different species. It wouldn’t be surprising if this brave diver saw some dolphins, sea turtles, or even whales.
Why should we have all the fun? Sharks on the coast of west Australia were spotted riding the waves on Red Bluff Beach – not that they were hard to see. The photographer who captured the shot, Sean Scott, recalled on the day: “There were human surfers and body boarders close-by and they’d swim up to check them out but weren’t interested in them, the sharks were just keeping their bellies full of fish.”
But even these fearful creatures were no match for the wrath of the sea. The waves were travelling at 35 miles-per-hour and were reaching heights of around eight feet. “It just shows how close these sharks came to go over the falls,” Sean explained, adding that “They ended up getting barrelled.” Yikes.
The Giant Glowing Gumball of Horrors
This bizarre photo looks like it came straight out of a science fiction movie, but it is in fact real. Photographer George Karbus captured freediver Kate Hamsikova plunging into freezing water in Russia. Located at the Arctic Circle, she dove under 1.2 meters of thick ice when the northern lights were on full display.
Also known as aurora borealis, the northern lights are a natural phenomenon where the sky is lit up in crazy green color tones. It is the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere and occurs primarily in the polar regions. How Kate didn’t panic, we’ll never know. The glow of that radioactive-green is enough to give us nightmares.
I’m Not Scared of You
This guy is really holding his own infront of this giant manta sting ray. Not only is he attempting to stare him down, but he’s holding a confrontational pose with his arms crossed. But if we were him, we’d quickly move out of the way to let the giant manta go about his business.
In reality, manta rays pose no danger to human beings. They are known to be peaceful creatures that have a tendency to be curious. They were long thought to be a threat to us because of their horn-shaped fins, but these days we know better. So if you do come across one, be calm and gentle!
The Strangest Shark of All
You probably wouldn’t have guessed that this ocean predator is a shark of all things. It looks more like a prehistoric serpent. Which isn’t actually so far from the truth, as it’s considered to be living fossil i.e. they have had minimal evolutionary changes over millions of years. Meet the fearsome Frilled Shark.
The photo of the Frilled Shark in its natural habitat is pretty rare as it lives deep in the deepest and darkest corners of the ocean. They feast mainly on squids but have also been known to eat other sharks. Luckily for us they’re extremely rare, so there’s little chance we should ever encounter them.
This Optical Illusion Gives Us Bleak Prospects
Right at the tip of the Indian Ocean is this spine-chilling optical illusion, where it looks as though we’re approaching an underwater rabbit hole. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the island of Mauritius is about to be swallowed into the core of the earth.
Referred to as the underwater waterfall at Le Morne Brabant, the optical illusion is created by a run off of sand that pours into the Indian ocean. It’s hard to believe it considering just how realistic this oceanic drain looks like.
A Really Bad Idea
Who knows what was going through this guy’s mind when he stuck his hand out towards the Great White Shark. Taken in 2016 at Mexico’s Guadalupe Island off the coast of the Baja peninsula, scientists warned of the negative implications this kind of behavior could have. Sharks could associate humans with food, they said. The Great Whites could also just have bitten his arm off, had things escalated…
Hilariously, the director of the Florida program for shark research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, George Burgess, had one thing to say when he saw this image. “Sooner or later one of those guys will lose an arm, and then it will become a shark attack… File this under “s” for stupidity.”
The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of
This sea beast is the Deep Sea Anglerfish, native to the tropical areas of deep, dark seas. They don’t come across meals very often, which is why when they do they needed to have a jaw so big it could hardly be missed. Living at least 6500 feet below sea level, they have absolutely no sunlight to guide their path.
Their dorsal fin spine that protrudes out from their heads lights up and attracts their prey. Interestingly, because of how deep down they live and how few there seem to be, humans and Deep Sea Anglerfish have no impact on each other’s lives. They are thought to be naturally rare, which in some ways is lucky for us. We wouldn’t want to get used to seeing that.
Let The Ocean Come To You
Here’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This scubadiver doesn’t need to move an inch as a huge school of curious fish comes up to meet him. It looks like something from a film, or at least a child’s imagination. The school had become an imposing yet coordinated vortex of fish.
When fish are schooling, it helps them stay protected from predators. Shoaling is somewhat similar, but the reasons for it are different; shoaling is more socially driven. It could be argued that this mass of fish is doing a bit of both, as the fish are certainly getting up, close, and personal to diver.
He Doesn’t Likes That
This crazy-looking creature is a Moray eel that lives out in the coral reefs of deep waters. They fair best in tropical oceans, where they can grow up to eight feet long and weigh 65 pounds. And when it comes to divers coming into their toerritory, they’ve been known to bite.
But perhaps their most noteworthy feature is their extra set of jaws. These eels have the ability to thrust them towards their prey, giving them an extra advantage. As it turns out, they’re just as scary on the inside as they look on the outside.
Friends, Not Food
What would in most circumstances be a life or death situation, in Indonesia it’s all fun and games. Teluk Cenderawasih National Park allows you to swim with the stunning marine animals native to the area, including this mammoth-sized whale shark! Luckily, they’re totally harmless.
They also move very slowly and have no interest in eating outside of their fish diet. Unbelievably, they’re also one of the largest fish species around, with the largest whale shark recorded as being over 62 feet long. But even knowing they’re really just big friendly giants, there’s still something terrifying about it swimming right under you.
He’s Just a Big Softy
Take a look at this brave woman swimming totally freely next to a humungous manta ray! Clearly, she doesn’t have a fear in the world of this sea creature and she’d be right not to. Manta’s dont pose any dangers to people and dont consider us a threat.
In fact, we can actually do a lot more damage to them when coming in contact. It is advised not to touch a manta as their bodies are covered in a protective outer layer of mucus. It prevents diseases and parasites from penetrating their soft skin, and the last thing we’d want is to bring them any harm.
Deadly Or Delightful?
Curious what it is you’re looking at? You’re not alone, as this bizarre looking little critter definitely invites a lot of questions. It’s the Vampire Squid, native to tropical open oceans around the world. Believe it or not, it’s actually not a squid or even an octopus, but something else entirely.
Don’t be too worried though, it doesn’t drink blood as its name would suggest. It’s called the Vampire Squid because of its deep reddish hue and its cape-like connecting arm tissue. While they might even look cute to some of us, we should be very wary of these creatures. Hardly anything is known about them as they live in the darkest part of the ocean. Who knows what they’re capable of.
A Whirlpool of Fish
We’re all familiar with what a sea whirlpool is, where ocean tides can create a deadly vacuum of fast-moving water. The most serious whirlpools are called maelstroms, and we’re wondering if one is in the process of forming in this picture. A school of fish appear to be creating a vortex-like shape.
How this diver at the bottom isn’t swimming for his life right about now, we’re sure we’ll never know. Looking through the gap we can see just how far from the surface this diver really is and it’s truly scary stuff. All that sea life could do some real damage if it were so inclined.
The Jaws of Death
Whales aren’t out to get us, but that doesn’t make this moment any less dangerous. This whale almost accidental took a chunk out the diver when he was trying to catch the little fish swimming past. It’s a humpback whale, so it usually tries its best to stay as far away from humans as possible.
This humpback has been captured in the moment he landed back in water after breaching (leaping above the ocean surface.) With the ability to grow to 52 feet long and weigh 33 tons, it was this diver’s lucky day. If he had gotten in the way, he wouldn’t stand a chance.
The Most Intelligent Marine Creature
Behold the largest octopus species in the entire world, the giant Pacific octopus. This carnivorous beast usually weighs around 110 pounds and measures 16 feet across, but has been known to grow twice as big before. They thrive in cold and oxygen-rich water and are found in the northern Pacific Ocean from the U.S. to Japan.
The scariest thing about them is just how easily they manage to trick their prey and predators alike. They can change color like a chameleon, hide in tiny spaces, and even mimic other species. Basically, they’ve got several tricks up their sleeve to outsmart even humans. And we don’t doubt that they’d win!
A Swarm of Devil Rays
Pictured at Mexico’s Baja California Sur in the Sea of Cortez, a huge number of Munk’s devil rays swim together in a chilling display. There’s more to be afraid of than just the size of their colony; they have the ability to leap several feet into the air making it look as though it’s flying!
When they land back in the water they make a loud splashing sound when their belly hits the surface. It gave them the nickname “tortilla” as the sound is reminiscent of the slapping of tortillas between a persons palms. They may be smaller than your average devil ray, but the sheer amount of them is pretty intimidating.
The Inquisitive Giant
Would you be as calm as this guy if you saw this lurking under your boat? This fisherman remained unfazed by the huge marine creature – probably because it turned out to be a whale and not shark. But still, you’ve got to be pretty confident to keep your cool in this situation.
In fact, it’s very common for whales to be particularly curious about humans, as this one in the photo is. They are highly intelligent marine animals, and always have a tendency to want to better understand what we’re about. The main danger they pose to us is if they jostle their tail too vigorously. Then, we’re in serious danger.
Put a Sock in It
You couldn’t pay us enough money to be in this situation. But these divers appear unfazed by the infamous basking shark, best known for having an enormous mouth. They’re also the second largest fish species in the ocean, being bested in size by the whale shark. They are about as long as a double-decker bus.
Despite their impressive size they only feast on tiny plankton, but they can get a lot in at once. They’re also pretty tolerent of considerate divers, making them easier to watch than others. That’s if you can find them of course – they’re becoming exceedingly rare and over-fished.
Cards Are on the Table
Confused by what you’re seeing? You’re not the only one. This bizarre translucent creature is native to the west Pacific ocean, a mile and a half deep in the Celebes Sea. It is a Pink See-Through Fantasia, AKA sea cucumber, and we’ve only been aware of its existence since 2007. As we can see, it’s uniquely see-through – its intestines, mouth, and… everything else is visible to those on the outside.
But this little guy is also bioluminescent and emits its own light when under threat as a warning to predators. Interesting, the only part of their body that propels them through the water are their small webbed feet. Naturally, not a lot of known about this newly discovered species. Who knows what we’re really dealing with?
The largest ever living animal, the mighty Blue Whale, was captured in this jaw-dropping photo by Thai photographer Tanakit YamMo Suwanyangyaun in 2019. He recalled: “It looked like a submarine. Every whale we saw was massive, but this one was up to 100 feet long. It made me realize how tiny I am in this world.”
And we can see in the picture just how tiny we are compared to the beautiful animal. “You need to be fast to get into the water but without scaring them, otherwise they dive down very quickly,” Tanakit explained about achieving this moment. “You only have ten seconds before it swims past you, so you need to hold your breath while diving down with them. It takes a lot of physical effort.” We don’t doubt it.
Sand Over Snow
You usually imagine penguins living on large empty plains of ice, fighting against ruthless snow blizzards. But these are African penguins of Cape Town, South Africa frolicking in the shallow waters of False Bay. They had just dived into the water when the cameraman caught this beautiful moment.
Their diet consists of fish and squid, which they catch quickly because of their flipper-like wings. But they’ve developed ingenious adaptions to their bodies to deal with the heat. The skin around their eyes is exposed, allowing them to cool down faster, and the muscles all over can contract their feathers to release their body heat. Still, this gang of penguins can look quite threatening.
What Not To Do in the Ocean
It feels crazy to us that this freediver feels comfortable doing this. We can’t imagine many people feeling happy to swim backward while a tiger shark swims towards her only a couple of feet away. Found in the tropical waters around the central Pacific islands, tiger sharks were named after the big jungle cat because of the natural vertical stripes that appear on the side of the younger ones.
Not only are they big eaters, but they also see people as food just as much as anything else and have been known to attack! Their sharp and pointy teeth also make it incredibly easy for them to take a chunk out of you, so who knows what’s going on through this diver’s mind… this is a nightmarish situation.
He Lived To Tell the Story
How this little sailor managed to keep his cool right now we’ll never understand. Sailing on a little dinghy, this guy was just minding his own business when a whale swam just along the surface of the water. But what makes it so much more alarming is how it positioned itself directly under him.
All it would have taken is a flick of the whale’s tail or even exhaling from his blowhole to cause a major problem for the sailor. Luckily, he got out of the situation unscathed. We guess whales really want to satiate their curiosity about us, even if it means getting up close and personal.
Served on a Platter
It is possibly to visit a great white shark in its natural habitat without risking your life… sort of. From the safety of a reinforced steel cage, you can dive into the sea by Cape Town, South Africa where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. And you’ll be able to meet the infamous creature from a safe-ish position.
But as much it’s advertised as being risk-free, we have our doubts. Just look at how vulnerable the three divers are if the great white decided to do some serious harm! While we dont doubt it would be an experience of a lifetime, those gaps in the cage wall just look a little too generous.
Where Has This Been Hiding
This alien-looking creature is a lion’s mane jellyfish, the largest known species of jellyfish on earth. They don’t need warm tropical water to survive – they do just fine in the cold waters of places like the Arctic Ocean or the Scandinavian seas. The biggest lion’s mane was recorded as having a diameter of seven feet and six inches and with tentacles over 100 feet.
As we can see, these jellyfish have a huge number of tentacles. They sting their prey with them and reel them in, consuming smaller sea creatures such as fish, zooplankton, or even other jellyfish. But if they can get bigger than humans, wouldn’t they see us as food too?
One particular shark expert, Chris Fallows, chose to put himself at risk in 2011 to prove that great white sharks are generally safe to be around. “The chances of a great white shark simply rushing in and attacking a human are very remote,” he claimed, after 20 years of working with the animals.
The South African expert went paddle boarding right by the shark in a bid to change people’s perceptions. “Some people have this idea that sharks will attack on sight and this is not true at all,” Chris explained. “My goal is to show people that sharks and humans can under most circumstances share the same space.” Maybe the ocean isn’t so scary after all?
Creeping up From Behind
This freediver has the pleasure of looking at a school of fish from the back. We’re not sure why they’re turned around though – perhaps there’s something more threatening on the other side? Either way, it’s got to be a lot less threatening when they’re not all turned to face you.
Interestingly, schooling is not passed down from older fish to younger fish but instinctively developed. While they’re younger and their senses are less mature, fish practice schooling in pairs before moving on to small groups and eventually bigger groups. And as we can see, those groups can get pretty large.
They Don’t Make Mistakes
In this image, a marine biologist had the opportunity to swim with a 20 foot long great white shark a few months ago. The huge creature is affectionately nicknamed “Deep Blue,” and is the largest known great white around. What might seem terrifying to us was a total joy for biologist Ocean Ramsey.
“We never would have imagined we would be fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of this massive, big, beautiful, female white shark,” she cheered, noting that “It’s so rare that they ever make a mistake.” That’s exactly why we wouldnt want to chance getting so close to them!
It Doesn’t Last Long
This image shows just how close to the surface a blue whale will go in order to get a meal. This particular whale came to feast on some krill, its main source of nutrition. But the divers noted that they didn’t have long to enjoy the spectacular moment.
It was only a matter of seconds until the whale had disappeared and was out of sight. They have to travel fast in order to keep up with their dietary needs, requiring up to 40 million krill a day to sustain themselves. If you’re scared when encountering a blue whale, at least the experience won’t last long.
There’s Nothing to Fear
The great basking shark huge mouth can open up to three feet wide. You can’t see any teeth in its mouth, mainly because they’re more or not involved in their feeding process. It swims with its mouth open in order to catch as many plankton as possible, and then swallows them whole.
But the basking shark does actually have hundreds of tiny teeth, but what they use them for is not completely understood. They’re also incredibly slow moving for a shark, which makes them seem even less threatening. The more you know about this shark, the less scary they seem to be.