Thalassophobia is a persistent and intense fear of deep bodies of water such as the ocean or sea. What makes this phobia different than aquaphobia — the fear of water in general — is the fact that it centers on vastness, darkness, and depth. People who have this condition are not terrified of getting wet, but rather the might and mystique behind the waves.

While thalassophobia is not recognized as a distinct disorder by the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual of mental disorders used by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, it's still relatively common. And the subreddit of the same name is a vivid example of that. Created in June 2013, it unites 969,000 thalassophobes, sharing triggers and discussing symptoms.

So, in an attempt to shed some light on this community, we at Bored Panda decided to put together a list of their most popular posts.

Online groups that get this big often suffer from huge streams of content that flood them with questionable pictures and videos, diminishing the overall experience of browsing them, but this subreddit manages to stay clean. Part of it can be attributed to the clear rules that promote being nice and courteous, and allow no jokes, memes, or cartoons, no reposts, and no gore.

But of course, having an active moderator team that make sure members adhere to these rules helps tremendously as well.

We contacted the moderators of 'Thalassophobia' and they were kind enough to have a little chat with us.

"Our core mod group has 4 active members, which is a small team for a subreddit of our size," they told Bored Panda. "Compared to other subreddits of our size, we don't feel like we police posts or comments as much. The reason we do so little policing can probably be explained by our subreddit's niche context that revolves around a very specific set of inoffensive content. We're just a bunch of people sharing stories, images, and videos of bodies of water that leave us in awe, wonder, and trepidation. Whenever we do police content, it's usually because it's a repost or focuses on a sea creature rather than the vastness of the ocean or the unknown depths of a body of water. We prefer for the ocean/water to play the primary role in content."

#3

Orcas In The Waves

Orcas In The Waves

Abesens Report

Ria C.
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That is beautiful. Scary cause murder mammal in murder water. But beautiful nonetheless.

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#4

This Seaweed Through Clear Water

This Seaweed Through Clear Water

appealing_orange Report

#5

Underwater Waterfall

Underwater Waterfall

bnasty1998 Report

The mods said the 'Thalassophobia' community is very passionate and filled with both ocean-fearing and ocean-loving people. "Based on previous polls we've had in the subreddit, it's split roughly 50/50 between those [two groups]."

"Although half of the community loves the ocean, everyone understands that there are people with a phobia of large/deep bodies of water and everyone is respectful of that in their posts and comments. It's a great community to be a moderator in," they explained.

Specific phobias tend to fall into these five categories:

  • Animal type;
  • Blood-injection type;
  • Natural-environment type;
  • Situational type;
  • Other.

Thalassophobia is usually considered to belong to the natural-environment type. These fears are experienced more frequently, with some studies also suggesting that water-related phobias are more common among women.

#6

"Uhhhh, There's More Than Just Kelp And Angelfish Down Here, Over"

"Uhhhh, There's More Than Just Kelp And Angelfish Down Here, Over"

1myuutsu4 Report

#7

British Underwater Photographer Of The Year Winner 2022

British Underwater Photographer Of The Year Winner 2022

heresyourhardware Report

#9

Is To Me Or Are Black Tiled Pools Terrifying

Is To Me Or Are Black Tiled Pools Terrifying

Desperate_Squirrel20 Report

JoyfulZebra
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This looks like a pool a Bond villain would have

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Thalassophobia shares symptoms with other specific phobias, such as claustrophobia, and includes:

  • Sudden onset of anxiety or fear;
  • Shaking and trembling;
  • Sweating;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Increased heart rate or heart palpitations;
  • Difficulty breathing, including hyperventilating;
  • Chest pain;
  • Fear of losing control.
#10

Taken Off The Coast Of Southern California 2 Weeks Ago

Taken Off The Coast Of Southern California 2 Weeks Ago

bram_stokers_acura Report

#11

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

TheCouncil0fRicks Report

#13

The Deadliest Stream In The World - It Looks Normal, But Underneath It Is Full Of Caves Of Powerful Fast Moving Water That Will Drag You Down. 100% Fatality Rate

The Deadliest Stream In The World - It Looks Normal, But Underneath It Is Full Of Caves Of Powerful Fast Moving Water That Will Drag You Down. 100% Fatality Rate

ecarion104 Report

The causes of specific phobias, including thalassophobia, are not entirely understood, and often differ from case to case. But according to a common explanation, it's usually a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Research shows that certain genes are associated with certain specific phobias, but as of yet no studies have looked at the genetics behind thalassophobia in particular. However, following the Darwinian theory of evolution, there should still be at least some.

#14

“The Big One”

“The Big One”

grivetart Report

#15

When You Fear Of Flying And Your Fear Of Water Meet Each Other

When You Fear Of Flying And Your Fear Of Water Meet Each Other

philbilly86 Report

ZentheOgre
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the air!

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#16

Beach Weather Is Upon Us!

Beach Weather Is Upon Us!

parentsttr Report

#17

The Eye Of S(E)auron.

The Eye Of S(E)auron.

cuebas Report

Think of it like this: our ancestors also came across deep bodies of water, and those who were cautious of the dangers they possessed may have avoided them, living longer to pass down their genes. This theory is supported by research that indicates that specific phobias are moderately heritable.

Although the exact percentage can vary, it has been found, for example, that for animal phobias, heritability is around 45%.

#18

A Howling Abyss

A Howling Abyss

Equis4 Report

#20

An Entire Street Submerged In The Deep

An Entire Street Submerged In The Deep

stefansfdsdfw Report

#21

Underwater Path. Magical Zakynthos Caves, Greece

Underwater Path. Magical Zakynthos Caves, Greece

kinkykat977 Report

Thalassophobia could also be caused by traumatic events, such as a childhood near-drowning experience, witnessing a shark attack, never learning to swim, or even being told scary stories of the ocean.

By associating a specific situation, such as being in deep water, with a panic response, over time a phobia of that situation can develop.

#22

Because All My Friends Say This Photo Of Me Freediving Gives Them The Willies

Because All My Friends Say This Photo Of Me Freediving Gives Them The Willies

marinemik Report

ZentheOgre
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Start adding dark shapes in the backgrounds when you show them pictures. Items like Thomas the trains face, rubber duck, sushi rolls Cthulhu are common items that you could sneak in

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#24

Could That Be The Megalodon's Den?

Could That Be The Megalodon's Den?

paulisnotmyname Report

#25

Taken From A Fishing Boat In Antartica

Taken From A Fishing Boat In Antartica

guitamnandakumar Report

Phobias are chronic conditions that can worsen over the course of life and limit one's relationships and activities. The good thing is that they are also highly treatable, although the process isn't always pleasant.

But only about 10-25% of people with a specific phobia ultimately seek help. This is likely due to avoidance behaviors, since treating a specific phobia does often involve confronting the feared stimuli.

#26

The Image That Started It All

The Image That Started It All

wmszeligaSfghr4567 Report

#27

Jacob's Well In Texas

Jacob's Well In Texas

ThaProtege Report

Turt_Le
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It gives me the impression that you'd fall/sink/get pulled down if you swam over the opening as illogical as that sounds

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#28

An Abandoned, Flooded Mineshaft

An Abandoned, Flooded Mineshaft

KapnObesity Report

#29

Guadalupe Island, The Most Terrifying Place On This Planet

Guadalupe Island, The Most Terrifying Place On This Planet

NMDA_GABA Report

Evelyn
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

*Remember there are more people bit by humans in NYC than by sharks in the world* Save the sharks!

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Exposure therapy is a popular and effective choice for treating specific phobias, including fear of the sea. During it, a person faces their feared stimuli in increasing levels of intensity.

For someone with thalassophobia, this might start with looking at photos of the sea on this subreddit, escalate to watching videos of the ocean or deep water, then visiting a big pool and taking a trip to the ocean. Through controlled exposure, the person learns that the feared stimulus itself is not dangerous, and they can begin to associate it with more positive outcomes.

#30

There’s Something Particularly Terrifying About The Idea Of Water You Can’t Even Float In

There’s Something Particularly Terrifying About The Idea Of Water You Can’t Even Float In

kuparinedfgdfgdf Report

Izzy Curer
Community Member
6 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

They put these signs on the aeration tanks at water purification plants. While there have been a few people who have fallen in and drowned, whether or not aeration would cause a human not to float hadn't really been tested until more recently. It turns out humans can float in an aeration tank, and it's now thought that those who drowned died of other complications. They still keep the signs up, though, since the tanks are still dangerous in general, and also because they're full of icky water that no one should really want to be in.

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#31

The Bottom Of An Iceberg

The Bottom Of An Iceberg

FlippedChamp Report

Ash
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That's beautiful. I know what it is, but I can convince my brain it's something else.

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#32

Whirlpools Are Actually Terrifying, You Guys

Whirlpools Are Actually Terrifying, You Guys

eddrriley Report

Grace Austin
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Whirlpools are basically just like toilets being flushed, but bigger

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#33

Swimming Next To A Ship In The Open Ocean, Miles From Land

Swimming Next To A Ship In The Open Ocean, Miles From Land

OatsAndWhey Report

Grace Austin
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That dude in the middle- is he drowning? Is he calling out for help? Is he waving to the camera? Is he voguing?

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#34

A Diver Riding A Giant Underwater Worm (Pyrosoma Atlanticum)

A Diver Riding A Giant Underwater Worm (Pyrosoma Atlanticum)

Ok-Interaction-4693 Report

Official Cat
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

i am not really scared of water, but i am scared of that worm!

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#35

Brine Pools Are Just The Scariest Shit

Brine Pools Are Just The Scariest Shit

DedotadedWham Report

Dogperson
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I just can't believe people have the guts to swim in these places!

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#36

Apparently This Is The Sunken Goddess Sculpture- That’s All I Know But Look At How Big It Is!

Apparently This Is The Sunken Goddess Sculpture- That’s All I Know But Look At How Big It Is!

Otherwise-Drama-8586 Report

#37

Walked About 30 Minutes Out During Low Tide To Read This!

Walked About 30 Minutes Out During Low Tide To Read This!

ChaeusXCVI Report

#38

This Is An Under-Ice Observation Tube In Mcmurdo Station, Antarctica

This Is An Under-Ice Observation Tube In Mcmurdo Station, Antarctica

vinyl_soda Report

#39

Depth: Infinite Ft

Depth: Infinite Ft

abagelinmynavel Report

Grace Austin
Community Member
6 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Kids, who’s ready to go on the bottomless pit water slide? It feels like it never ends!

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#40

This Grounded Ship Looking Like A Giant Meg

This Grounded Ship Looking Like A Giant Meg

roncastelino Report

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#41

Anybody Who Wants To Take A Dip?

Anybody Who Wants To Take A Dip?

Beta_Whisperer Report

#42

Row Row Row Your Boat

Row Row Row Your Boat

Erecktus Report

#43

That Last Point Made Me Double Take

That Last Point Made Me Double Take

sighdoihaveto Report

NoDak Pirate
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If you hear a rubble in the sea and it makes you want to pee...

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#44

Fresh Water Always Creeped Me Out More Than The Ocean. The General Low Visibility And Feeling "Enclosed" With Whatever Was In The Water Was Always Gnawing At The Back Of My Mind.

Fresh Water Always Creeped Me Out More Than The Ocean. The General Low Visibility And Feeling "Enclosed" With Whatever Was In The Water Was Always Gnawing At The Back Of My Mind.

STORMxQUEEN Report

ZentheOgre
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Hah the myth about that particular dolphin. They are shapshifting tricksters that will try to drown you and turn you into a dolphin and then morph into you and take your place in your family.

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#46

Flip (Floating Instrument Platform), A Ship Flipping Vertically To Study The Behavior Of Sound Waves Underwater

Flip (Floating Instrument Platform), A Ship Flipping Vertically To Study The Behavior Of Sound Waves Underwater

JulPfl Report

#47

Going Through Old Pics, Thought I Would Drop This Here

Going Through Old Pics, Thought I Would Drop This Here

fancyzoidberg Report

ZentheOgre
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Just a friendly shark debating if they are worth a selfie. (Upper right look for dark shape)

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#48

Black Lined Pools Are A Thing… And They’re Terrifying

Black Lined Pools Are A Thing… And They’re Terrifying

LestrangeLauren Report

Jennifer Dibble
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Pretty sure this is just an entrance to the Upside-down.

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#49

It's A Nice Peaceful Day Until You Get A Glimpse Of What Lies Beneath

It's A Nice Peaceful Day Until You Get A Glimpse Of What Lies Beneath

Desperate_Squirrel20 Report

#50

Found This Gem On Tumblr

Found This Gem On Tumblr

JesseKarma Report

Note: this post originally had 142 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.

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