You may not have heard of thalassophobia, but it’s possible you suffer from it. Defined as the fear of open water or the sea in general, it’s a pretty common condition. After all, bodies of water across the globe are full of mystery, and who can’t relate to the fear of the unknown?
Maybe you’re not worried about what’s lurking beneath the waves now, but you might change your tune once you see these terrifying photos of the ocean and everything hiding inside it. Cue the Jaws theme!
1. The whale shark might be harmless to humans (watch out if you’re a plankton, though!), but that doesn’t mean their mouths aren’t serious nightmare fuel. Just picture this thing swimming up behind you… no thanks.
2. Sure, nothing appears to be lurking around the corner in this creepy photo, but that’s exactly what makes it so troubling. That fear of the unknown certainly applies to the mysteries of the deep.
3. Every once in a while, the scariest thing you can find on the ocean floor isn’t a shark, a jellyfish, or another animal—it’s a completely inanimate object. What is that chair doing there? How spooky is that?
4. Whales are unlikely to behave aggressively towards humans, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re completely massive and dangerous. If ol’ Moby Dick here decides it’s time to come up for air, that little boat will be in trouble.
5. The boat wasn’t big enough for the unsuspecting Quint, Hooper, and Brody in Jaws, but they still made it out alive (mostly). By comparison, this man and his kayak don’t stand a chance against this big guy!
6. No, that isn’t a giant tentacle monster from a horror movie—it’s just ordinary, harmless seaweed. Still, we wouldn’t blame you for immediately swimming in the opposite direction if you saw it while surfing!
7. You might not think that you suffer from claustrophobia, but it would likely be a different—and far more frightening—story if you found yourself in a particularly tight underwater corridor while scuba diving.
8. This octopus is enormous! While he likely doesn’t pose a threat to the scuba diver, there’s still something utterly frightening about seeing such a strange creature up close.
9. If horror movies set in the ocean have taught us anything, it’s that if you explore an abandoned or sunken ship, you’re bound to run into a giant shark or terrifying skeleton pirate before too long!
10. Coming across just one hammerhead shark is bad enough, but if you’re unlucky and you get on the bad side of a whole school of hammerhead sharks, you’re not going to stand a chance!
11. Whales, as a general rule, are pretty unlikely to go out of their way to act aggressively toward humans, but none of that changes the fact that they’re dangerous. Just look how teensy this scuba diver is compared to this humpback! He could be swallowed whole.
12. What’s more frightening than this unusually large, ghostly stingray is the fact that this brave swimmer is able to keep such a zen-like calm in its presence. Most people would be freaking out, right?
13. The idea of a haunted forest is a well-mined fantasy trope, but what about a haunted forest that’s also underwater? That’s what you get with Cenote Angelita (“Little Angel”), a hidden underwater river in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
14. The thing about the open ocean is that you don’t really know if there’s anything lurking underneath your boat. This perspective really shows you just how much could be swimming below the surface…
15. You know what’s creepy? Any sort of animal with a ridiculous number of legs. The bearded fireworm, a type of marine bristleworm, might just qualify for that category. Yikes!
16. Jason deCaires Taylor is an “underwater artist” who specializes in creating these unique statues. Surely, he knows how eerie they are. They really look like some sort of underwater graveyard.
17. Gigantic snakes like this are nightmarish enough on dry land. So just imagine coming face to face with one in the open water where you likely won’t be able to escape? Haven’t these people ever seen the movie Anaconda?
18. If you ever step on a jellyfish, you’ll most likely feel a teeny sting. So you can imagine how horrible it’d be if this lion’s mane jellyfish touched you. Their stings aren’t usually lethal, but they’re not all that pleasant, either!
19. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” That certainly has to apply to this scuba diver, who’s bravely challenging the unknown with this sinkhole!
20. If the iconic Jaws theme music by John Williams doesn’t start playing in your head the second you see this picture, you clearly weren’t scared by the movie. Either that, or you’re absurdly brave!
As scary as some of these pictures may be, don’t let them stop you from venturing into the water entirely. After all, 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. It’s beautiful—you just need to be careful!