Some people were born to swim underwater, and I am not one of them. Even if all of us were natural born water athletes, it kinda faded away at some point—the point we realized lakes are buzzing with moldy fish, and the seas are full of sharks and marine monsters. (Thanks, Jaws, for giving a whole new meaning to chilling at the beach, I didn’t ask for it.)
But the fear of ocean depths is not completely irrational. Because when someone asked the divers and dear people on Reddit who spend a lot of time underwater to share “the creepiest and most unexplainable thing you've seen while in the depths?” it wasn’t fun.
From 20+-foot-long fish that could swallow you whole to seeing things that aren’t there, these are some spine-chilling answers that could easily pass as a script for The Deep Blue Sea sequel.
When I used to surf I spent a good deal of time underwater - whether intentional, or not. One day, I went out in surf that was absolutely massive (for me). It was 10 foot solid all day. Bigger sets. Serious stuff. And it was a very dark, overcast Winter's day. And raining. You couldn't see s**t above the water, let alone below. At this place, the bigger it gets, the further out on the rock shelf it breaks. So I was at least 200 m from shore when out of the gloom towered an absolutely massive set. Enormous. As big as I'd ever encountered. There were only a handful of other blokes out there. The wave was mine. At this point I wasn't scared at all. No, I wanted to get the biggest wave of my life. So I tried. I got onto it but I just f**ked up the position of my feet, ever so slightly. No chance of pulling out, so I tried to go with it. And that is when it happened. The scariest f**king water-based experience I ever had. I fell off and this thing just took me to town. It lifted me all the way up and over the falls - I thought I was OK, but no, it was just beginning. It just kept pushing me down. Further and further. My ears hurt (badly), it was completely dark, cold (even in a wetsuit) - I came to rest on what seemed to be a very large, smooth rock (I could feel it with my fingers whilst I was pinned firmly to it). I was held there for what seemed like an eternity. Maybe 10 seconds. But then I could sense with my feet a ferocious current that seemed to stop at the edge of the rock - it was trying to pull me over the ledge and DOWN. I could hear it. At this point I was panicking. Seriously. I can't quite remember how I escaped. I have rarely been that scared in all my life. I made it to the surface. I really thought I was going to pass out. I can't remember much more but I must have paddled in so f**king fast other people noticed. They came to see what was the matter. I just sat on the beach. I could not even talk. I'm getting the f**king heebie jeebies even reading my own recollection.
Not a diver but, when I was surfing NZs west coast beach I felt something rap around my leg so I looked down and it was fishing line so I tried to pull it up and then the line got heavy, I assumed it was a fish, but as I pulled the line closer it got really heavy and I began to sink so I hoped on my board and paddled closer to shore, I slid off my board and was in chest deep water, my friend came over cause he noticed something was wrong. We both pulled the fishing line in and we saw a large silhouette in the water so we dragged it to the surface and it was a dead body, (someone rock fishing fell off the rocks last week and was missing) there was a hook stabbed into his neck and fishing line rapped around his face and dug into his skin. We brought the dudes body to the shore and called in the life guards then threw up due to the lack of his eyes.
An old WW2 ammunition ship off the south cost of england was full off brass topped shells. Most had been taken by divers over the years and it was now very rare to see them, apart from a pile in one corner of the ship.
This pile of shiny brass metals was miraculous untouched and remarkably clean after spending years underwater and you only found out why if you swam near then.
Out of the murky darkness the largest eel i have ever seen snakes forward, without exaggeration this thing had a head the same size as a horse's head, full of jagged teeth. I could not see the body as it looped into the dark and deeper into the ship. No one got near those shells.
Turns out for years this thing had been guarding the shiny brass shells, slithering over them making them shine. We found out at the bar later that he was famous in the area and many people went to the wreck just to see him. No idea why this giant creature was guarding them like a dragon and its horde, but some said eels are like magpies and like shiny things.
The ocean is deep, vast, and scary. Who knows what lurks in those crystal marine waters? In fact, much remains to be learned from exploring the mysteries of the deep since more than eighty percent of it remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.
Imagine that the lowest point on Earth, the Challenger Deep section of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, sits at a staggering 36,000 feet below sea level. The depth could engulf the summit of Mount Everest plus 7,000 feet added on top of it.It’s also the home of some of the most frightening-looking deep sea creatures like frilled sharks and giant tube worms.
This reminds me of the story of that diver team that found a man who survived for 3 days in an air pocket after a ship wreck. Here is the video of the moment they found him.
They were on a body recovery mission and were not expecting anyone to be alive, but miraculously he survived for 3 days underwater and apparently had to listen as his crewmates were being eaten by sharks and other fish. Here is a good article about how he managed to survive.
I can't imagine how creepy and unexpected it would be to be on a mission to recover the dead and have a hand reach out to you like it did to those dives.
I dive myself but this story is actually from my grandfather who is a dive master. He and my grandma went diving in Cancun for a vacation and with both of them being dive masters they knew what they were doing. The lead of the dive group caught on and had them help out some of the new divers with clearing their ears or getting the weight belts set to the right weight. Well, my grandfather got a young 20 something year old girl who had just got her diver certification. They had planned on diving off a drop off. If you don’t know what a drop off is, it is when it goes from a 40 foot reef to a cliff that god only knows how far down. Well they swam over the reef and on the last part of that particular dive went over to the cliff to see what was on the wall. The young girl that my grandfather was helping, which by the way was certified to dive no more than 60 feet, rapidly started taking a nose dive down the wall. 50,60,70,80 feet down the wall. My grandfather and the dive lead tried to grab her and chased her down to 120 feet, the limit they could safely go with the amount of air they had, and watched her continue down and down until they couldn’t see her anymore. She never came back up and no one knew why she did it. It shook up the whole dive group especially my grandfather as he felt responsible for not stopping her in time.
About 3 years ago my boyfriend and I went on an unguided dive in Egypt. We both knew the dive side from previous trips and felt pretty comfortable to go alone: It's not a very difficult one and we didn't want to hold up a group in case my boyfriend wanted to take some pictures, which can take a while. One of the perks of this particular dive side was a single choral at 38m, with a 90% chance to find a long nose hawkfish (a really cute guy, please google it, 10/10 would recommend). The normal procedure would be to spend most of your dive at ~ 25m, make a quick stop at 38m to check for the hawkfish and make your way up again. This should usually take you only 5 minutes or something, however we didn't find him and wasted quite a lot of time looking. At this point I was getting kind of sleepy (in retrospect this was the first sign that something was going horribly wrong) and wanted to finish the dive, so I could take a nap on the boat. I basically dragged my boyfriend away from the coral and we're about to make our way up again until I notice something. Hidden between one of the rocks was the strangest looking octopus I've ever seen. It was bright red (you cannot see the colour red that deep underwater, its pysically impossible) and had super weird silvery eyes. All in all it looked super funny and we were both laughing at its stupid face. My boyfriend makes quite a few pictures, until his computer goes apesh*t and basically forces us to slowly ascend and make 3 deco stops along the way. That finally snapped us out of it, because we did not intend to make a deco stop, let alone three. We finally reach the surface with only 20 bars left in our oxygen tanks (a huge no go, you should always have at least 50 on reserve) an are still absolutely blown away by that strange octopus. We've never seen something like this before, and change our equipment ASAP so we can look at the pictures. Exept, when we go through the pictures, there's nothing. Just 20+ pictures of one single rock, no octopus or anything in sight. The rock wasn't even a strange colour and that's when it dawned on us: the depth, the time, our strange behaviour underwater: That sounded a lot like nitrogen poisioning. You should know, the longer you spend at great depths, the more likely nitrogen poisioning becomes. It's basically an anesthetic that firsts makes you high and delirious until you pass out. And underwater is basically the worst place to pass out, ever. So here we were, at 38m, giggling at a rock without a care in the world, basically tripping on nitrogen whith our oxygen running dangerously low. I'm pretty sure if it weren't for our computer, we would have passed out and died. We still cant explain how we both saw exactly the same thing, though. Tl,dr: basically had an LSD trip underwater. Would not recommend.
But for some people, the fear of underwater depths is so strong, it actually qualifies as a phobia on its own. Known as “thalassophobia,” which stems from the Greek thalassa ("the sea") and phobos ("fear"), it is characterized by intense and persistent fear of deep bodies of ocean.
According to Very Well Mind, this phobia is different from aquaphobia, the fear of water, because thalassophobia centers on bodies of water that seem vast, dark, deep, and dangerous.
I’ve done a number of dives, and the strangest thing I ever saw was a large deep freezer with a heavy industrial chain wrapped around multiple times with about 5 cinder blocks attached. It was very very rusted and the deep freezer itself had to have been 30+ years old, probably more. This was about 90 feet deep just off Vancouver Island, Canada. The situation gave myself and the other divers the newbie jeebies. Logged the gps and depth co-ordinates and notified the police. We were able to find out what was inside, since one of the divers had friends with local police. 10 porcelain dolls....
Probably half a shark. Still swimming around but his entire left side was just gone, organs hanging out of him and everything. Like a living resident evil zombie shark. He must have been very recently attacked because i doubt you can live very long with your entire insides poking out.
Got charged by a mother humpback, her curious calf had swum around us and we were between her and the calf. Two of us never saw it coming, we were watching the baby, but our third diver watched her come. She kicked down and swam under us last minute. We didn't see anything until that 60ft freight train passed just underneath us
Meanwhile, some ocean mysteries are so spine-chilling they can easily crack the bravest of us. You've probably heard of the Bermuda Triangle, where a US Navy ship disappeared in 1918 with 300 crew members. In 1945, five navy bombers vanished while flying over the area. Just the thought of it combined with how little we know of the deep waters is enough to make one's stomach turn.
Rescue/Recovery diver here.
Every time I’ve recovered a drowning victim I get the creeps. Unfortunately a lot of people are under the impression that every underwater environment is like the movies and there’s absolute clarity, that’s rarely the case.
One evening I got called out for a young girl that jumped from a bridge, she likely survived the fall and entry. We have a morbid term for what happened to her upon hitting the water:
I found her with a surprising amount of visibility in relatively shallow water. She was stuck in the mud to just below her knees, and you could see the fear locked into her eyes/face.
There’s nothing peaceful about suicide by bridge.
I had a dive master that told me once he was diving somewhere and found a full skeleton wearing diving gear with the air on the tank turned off pretty deep down. If I remember correctly they said they reported it to the police and it was found out the man's wife turned off his air while they were on a dive to murder him.
At Sand Hollow Reservoir in Washington County, Utah there’s an old school bus and retired flight school airplane at the bottom for divers to explore. There’s a geocache in the bus so my brother (retired Army Ranger) and myself (Civilian mechanic with no diving experience besides trying to beat my son in a breath holding contest in the pool out back) set out to find it on a sunny summer day. After about 15 minutes we found the bus; Rusted, rotting and covered in algae. We entered from the back and began searching for the geocache. We found it, signed it and swapped the item out. What we took out was a piece of paper wrapped in multiple zip lock bags and the zipper cut off and torched to seal it indefinitely. On the paper was a single instruction, “item too large to put in container, check driver seat.” Intrigued we made out way to the front.
Now, I wish I was making this up. I was the first to reach the driver seat. I got to the front and what do I find? A body, wrapped in trash bags and taped with a 45 pound chain around the ankles. I let out a blood curdling scream like a 5 year old was just told he couldn’t have a cookie right before bed. My brother without reacting grabbed the body, pointed to the weight and we made our way toward the surface. Once we got to the surface we put our flag up and got on our boat once it arrived. We called the rangers over the radio and met them at the docks where we met a fleet of park rangers and county officers. They cut the bags while they were taking our statement to find that someone had left 130 or so pounds of sugar in gallon zip lock bags in the shape of a body.
This isn’t my story but my dads. So when he was in grad school he did some field studies classes some of which involved diving in Monterey Bay. One day he was diving counting something off of the Santa Cruz Pier and he finds a shopping cart with bricks and cinder blocks and a chain attached to the handle. He naturally followed the chain and found a bare foot wrapped in the chain. He assumes something probably ate the rest of the body and apparently his friends had seen similar things too.
Also not mine but my dads friend. He says he was on a shelf counting mussels when he felt something tap his tank and he looked around and didn’t see anything. He figured it was a seal cause they like to play. When he was nudged again he saw it was a great white. He says he thought to himself “if it gets me it gets me I can’t out swim it”. Now I don’t know if he was actually that chill I sure wouldn’t be but that’s how he tells it.
There's a sea-loch in Scotland called Loch Fyne that is popular with divers. Once on a dive, in what I thought was a remote part of the loch (I used a boat to get there), I was descending a vertical wall and came across garden gnomes around 10 metres down, just sitting in the ledges. One was fishing. We concluded that it was another dive club having fun.
So, 3 days ago I went snorkeling off Mnemba island in Zanzibar. Everything went normal, and we start heading back. I grab my net bag and put my black fins, black mask, snorkel and black wetsuit inside.
Once back ashore, I grab my bag, jump off the boat and head to the rental office to return the equipment. At that point I feel my bag is moving somehow.
At first look, it seemed like a flat, black, worm squirming quickly. After rotating the bag, I realised I was looking only at the tail of an otherwise ~1m long Black sea-snake, one of the most venomous reptiles I could find, trying to get out of the net.
How it got there, I have no freaking clue.
My dad used to work as a diver and he told me the reason he gave up diving.
Basically a small boat sank about an hour from our hometown and he was sent down to the wreck to find the bodies if there were any.
He quickly located the wreck and opened up the door and a corpse littered with tiny prawns came rushing towards him and essentially ‘hugged’ him.
That was the day my dad decided to quit diving.
He told me so many creepy stories that i could write more here.
Night dive off a fishing pier in Hawaii, lots of fish guts in the water rolling around the bottom, a decent sized white tip shows up zipping and out of our lights. It's my first shark; cool! Then I see it getting more agitated and closer, it split me and my dive buddy, turned, arched it's back, pectoral fins down, and darted in directly at memy dive light. So I punched it. I punched a shark in the face at about 2' from my stomach. I was freaked the f**k out. Finished the dive and didn't see him again but dear god I did not enjoy the rest of that dive and my air consumption was suuuper high.
When I was a kid we used to go to a place during the summer holiday which had some very nice beaches and in particular an estuary with a very wide river mouth.
One summer there was a "king tide" where enough of the water emptied out of the river into the ocean that you could snorkel quite easily from one side of the river mouth to the other as it got so shallow that it was only a meter or so deep at the deepest part.
One day I decided to snorkel across from one beach to the one on the other side of the river, and about halfway across where the depth to the bottom was maybe half a meter, I was swimming along the surface looking down with my mask/snorkel on and a MASSIVE stingray passed directly underneath me. This thing was easily 2 meters across, covered in white scars and missing its tail. I just froze in the water and it felt like my heart stopped. If I had've let my breath out, I would've dropped in the water low enough that I would've landed on it, it was so close. I wasn't in any danger but having a massive creature appear so unexpectedly, so close up was absolutely terrifying.
I'm a commercial diver, and was once on a job cleaning a potable water reservoir. I'd been in other reservoirs before, but this was by far the biggest, at 40x80 metres. To get in you had to open a hatch in the ground (the whole reservoir was underground) and climb down a ladder. The hatch was in a corner, so when you were in the far corner of the reservoir, it was completely pitch black, and you just had to hope your light didn't go out. I was about half way through a three hour dive when the batteries in my torch started going flat. I watched the beam get narrower and dimmer until it cut out completely. It's not a huge problem if you lose light, as you can just follow your umbilical back to the hatch. Just as I started walking back, some obnoxiously loud banging started somewhere in the reservoir. I was the only diver in there, so it both confused and scared the s**t out of me. Needless to say I ran back to the hatch as fast as I could. I ended up getting my torch changed out and doing another hour in the water, but didn't hear the noise again. I still have no idea what it was, but the combination of my torch going out and loud banging coming from somewhere gave me a hell of a fright.
You can dive in man made lakes and check out what's left of old flooded homes and communities. It's pretty dark and spooky down there no matter what, especially when you think of all the big fish swimming around that are barely silhouettes until they're close. My buddy likes to dive in lakes. He said the creepiest thing, by far, is finding cemeteries 100 ft + beneath the water in the dark, eerie quiet. 4 day edit: I asked him about big fish. He said there's definitely s**t down there bigger than he expected - 4 or 5 feet. They're attracted to the lights and noise but watch from a distance - which is nonetheless discincerting, just dark, 2d shapes drifting nearby. None of the monsters other folks are bringing up though.
I dive myself but heard this story from a garda diver. In 2010 a man took a test drive in a car with the salesman and in a suicide attempt he drove the car off the pier into the sea and drowned. The salesman managed to escape my breaking the window and swimming to the surface. The divers were dispatched to retrieve the other man's body. This isn't in the news report which I have a link to below for anyone interested. Simply through working in marinas at the time I was able to be part of the conversation with the diver in question. When he got to the car, he said, the man was still facing forward, hands on the steering wheel, eyes wide. He'd been there a couple of hours now, where it gets creepy is when the diver opened the driver door, this combined with the smashed window caused the currents to flow through the car and the man's wide eyed head turned around slowly with the force of it to face the diver.
I once went diving in port Elizabeth, South Africa where it is quite popular to see sharks.
We begin diving and we are quite far from the shore, there’s a cool looking structure under us, we swim towards it to get a closer look and I just start getting this cold cold cold cold feeling running through my body, and that’s when a shark appeared and I physically shat myself from fear.
I have 150+ dive but can't say I've seen anything all that creepy. But I do have a cool dive story to share.
I was diving the Blue Hole in Belize and we were at max depth which is 120 feet. It gets weird at that depth. The light level is getting pretty low and it feels... oppressive. You realize you're WAY down.
There are some lemon sharks that swim around the Blue Hole. They are curious and like to check out divers, but they are harmless. They look mean as hell though and can get 8-9 feet easily.
At 120 feet one of them decided to come check out me and my (now ex) wife. She was a bit in front of me but when she saw the shark beelining towards us she quickly swam behind me and SHOVED me towards the shark. I was NOT expecting that and it took a minute to process what happened, but I felt bad for her more than anything. She was terrified for a few seconds.
I laughed about it later and said at least I knew where I stood with her. She is a good diver but the sight of that 8 foot shark swimming straight at her with a mouth full of teeth triggered her survival instincts. I didn't hold it against her. :)
As I got shoved towards the shark, who was at that point only about 6 feet away from me, he calmly turned to the side and glided right past me and then went on to check out some other divers. We started our ascent and I didn't see him again. It was a very cool experience.
When I was a kid swimming in the lake at summer camp, I dove underwater and I swear I saw someone in SCUBA gear hiding underneath the dock watching us. I told the lifeguard, but he wasn't able to find anyone
I got told a story once by a Maori Language teacher of mine during my time at High School. We didn’t learn much Maori, just listened to stories.
A dam in the Waikato, New Zealand had begun to have visible cracks in the concrete on the outside part of the dam and some drivers were organised to dive down and check the inside submerged part of the dam for damage on that side.
While they were down there, there was the usual debris you would find behind a man made wall which prevents the water from flowing as it would normally do if there wasn’t a dam there.
Turns out what they thought were large logs were in fact huge eels which had gotten to the size of logs due to being prevented from migrating to the sea, where they breed and die. So from being prevented from doing their natural life duties they just get larger and larger.
That would be creepy seeing eels deep down in the water just floating around...
This isn’t my story but I though it was creepy when I heard it.
My great grandfather and great great grandfather ran a diving business together in a small town. This happened a long time ago, probably mid 60s.
My grandma and her friends (one of which was her boyfriend) decided to go down to the beach and all the boys decided to go into the water, and swam near the well-known spot where the current of the water is so strong can drag a boat underwater. The boys went near it and were dragged underwater and killed immediately (they were 14, 15 and 16 might I add). The coastguard were notified and my grandmas Dad and his Dad were called out to retrieve the bodies, once the current had relocated them to a safer diving spot.
The divers went underwater and found the 3 bodies and the description still sits with me even 4 years later I was told:
One boy (the youngest) had his arm torn in such a way by the current that it looked like it had simply been snapped off.
The 15 year old boy was bobbing around with his eyes wide open and chest bloated.
But the 16 year old boy had his skull caved in, where he was obviously smashed against something hard when he was flung by the currents of the water.
Not a personal story, but one about the lake near where I live.
The lake near my home is man made, except instead of flooding a plain or clear cut forest, they just flooded a dense patch of woods surrounding the river, trees and anything else that was there. A combination of this and the wildly unpredictable terrain has lead to hundreds of drownings...and subsequent deaths due to sudden drop offs or people getting trapped underwater. The army corps of engineers refuses to dive on the lake because they have labeled it too dangerous, meaning most of the bodies are still down there, somewhere.
There are also local rumors that amongst the forest trees are buildings and homes, long since flooded and forgotten..
Obligatory not me but.. My dad used to do a bunch of diving around some lakes in Minnesota, but his favorite was diving in the old iron mine pits around Crosby, MN. These lakes are almost always glass clear (except when pine pollen season hits) and exceptionally deep compared to the natural lakes. After a certain depth, theres a layer of silt (I think just decomposed matter) that lays flat and blocks out the little bit of light that gets to it. There was this one pit that my dad went diving into that had these steps leading into a cavern, being at the right depth for the silt to gather, making a very, very ominous looking stairway to nothing. Thus being dubbed: The Stairway to Hell.
I dropped my goggles and was trying to reach down in the river and grab it but I pulled out a sheep skull by its sockets. Wasn’t as creepy in hindsight but 10 year old me was scared.
My time to shine. I was an instructor/tech xr /mixed gas/overhead/the whole shebang when I was a young idiot that was pretty much trying to die. I can remember diving in a spring system in Florida with manatees and bumping into something on the bottom. Manatees just normally chill at the top and are literally like big floating sausages. So I looked down and saw a MASSIVE gator tail swish off into the less than clear water. I’ve done shark dives in the Bahamas, run into bulls, tigers, the whole gambit, but that right there terrified me. Another fun one was I was leading a group off of pcbc on the twin tugs and had a bull shark follow the entire time and no one else even saw it until we came up. That was hilarious to see their reactions.