The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth, and much of it is unexplored and unknown. Who knows what lurks down there? Who knows when it will decide to creep out into the light to find out what snorkeler tastes like?
If you’re not scared of the deep ocean, consider this: Even the world beneath the waves that we do know about gives us reason to think twice about getting in.
Here are some photos that will give you pause before taking a swim in the ocean. We don’t want to scare you, but you should know what’s lurking beneath those beautiful waves.
We know this is a basically harmless phenomenon. These giant strings of seaweed aren’t going to drag anyone down to the bottom of the ocean.
Still, they potentially have entire ecosystems living on them. We’d just as soon not get slapped with one of these massive plants.
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
This enormous animal is the largest known species of jellyfish, and the largest found specimen had tentacles that were 121.4 feet long! They live in cold waters, and you likely won’t stumble on one unless you’re trying to.
Surprisingly, the sting of this huge beast is seldom fatal, but it does leave redness and pain. The most frequent reason for stings are that a dead lion’s mane jellyfish breaks apart and people accidentally bump into pieces.
This deep-sea species is sometimes called a living fossil. It looks so strange because it evolved about 125 million years ago.
Because it lives so deep in the ocean, it poses no threat to us. Just knowing this snaggle-toothed shark lurks around is enough to keep us on dry land.
You know what sounds like a neat job? Wildlife photographer. Do you know what wildlife photographers do? This.
These people really earn their money. They risk their necks and spend weeks waiting for the perfect shot. Fortunately, they (and we!) are rewarded with amazing photographs of animals we don’t ordinarily get to see.
We hope this octopus has good intentions, but we wouldn’t willingly give it a hug. With their many suckers and strong arms, octopuses can pull apart clams and presumably humans.
Attacks from octopuses are rare, but not unheard of.
This is one thing you don’t want to see when you’re surfing. A man-eater lurking in the very wave you’re trying to catch.
Although shark attacks on humans are rare, surfers are frequent victims when attacks do happen. Scientists think that sharks mistake surfers for seals when they are paddling their board out to waves.
The ocean has varied topography, just like dry land does. Somehow, this hole to who-knows-where is more terrifying because of its location underwater.
This free-diver took her chances and was rewarded with an amazing view and a tremendous photograph. Better her than us!
That sperm whale looks mad, so here are a few facts you should know. First, sperm whales have the biggest teeth of any predator in the world, and that includes Dracula.
Second, sperm whales are among the biggest predators in the entire ocean. Finally, remember that the last time a huge “fish” swallowed a guy, that guy had to spend three days and nights in the fish’s belly. Without cellphone reception. Are you prepared to do 72 hours in a whale gut just for a bunch of likes on your photos?
Rivers and Lakes… in the Ocean!
If swimming in the ocean isn’t scary enough for you, try swimming in a lake inside the ocean. Rivers and pools of super salty brine come together to form bodies of water with distinct shorelines deep below the ocean’s surface.
That’s scary in a way, but the real horror is this question: What lives in there? (It’s mostly mussels, but still we’re not taking the risk.)
Predator vs. Aquaman
This little charmer is called a “sarcastic fringehead.” His favorite form of sarcasm is the death threat, but don’t worry, he won’t actually do it. That’s just sarcasm.
These bizarre animals flare their lips out when they feel threatened. They think it scares threats off because it makes them look bigger, but actually every competing fish that sees those rows of teeth is just like, “nope,” and the encounter ends there.
Sarcastic fringeheads live off the coast of California, where they swim around between 10 and 240 feet below the surface of the ocean. They’re very territorial, and when they fight it looks like kissing, but the worst kind of kissing you can imagine.
When they get mad, these fish turn into the aquatic version of the Predator from the eponymous film The Predator. These things wouldn’t back down from an Alien from the eponymous film Alien, either. It’d be a battle of the eponyms.
Xenomporph XX121 would slowly extend an auxiliary striking mouth at the sarcastic fringehead, who would reply, “Oh yeah?” and stretch his lips out to twice his body width. We’re not sure who would win, but we know we would lose.
Then you have these guys
Meet a pair of fun-loving marine hatchetfish, just out for a quick meal of plankton and possibly your face.
Actually, hatchetfish like this live in temperate waters between 600 and 4,500 feet down, so you’re probably not going to snorkel into one. Still, they might have friends. They might control all the dolphins of the world, just waiting for the right moment to strike.
Forget swimming, we’re done with all of it.
We realize that we only promised to scare you away from swimming in the ocean, but photos like this make us want to move inland and stay there. What if that’s Moby Dick, and he’s still mad about all the jokes we made about his name when that book was assigned in high school?
One flip of the tail. That’s all it takes. It’s just a good thing we didn’t have the internet back in the so-called Age of Exploration. Vasco da Gama would be all, “My Queen, I have discovered a new route…to the grocery store!” and none of us would exist because our genes would be isolated in little silos of humanity, separated by the terrifying and murderous oceans.