Underwater Photos That’ll Make You Never Want to Swim In the Ocean Again

Photo Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Imagine swimming through the ocean, having a relaxing float in a creek or adventuring in a swimming hole – these underwater photos show exactly what you wouldn’t want to come across. They include fearsome creatures of the deep (or things that look like them), haunting underwater wrecks and other eerie sights.

Creepy creatures

One of biggest unknowns of the ocean – or really any body of water – is what creepy creatures lurk in the depths. Humans have only discovered a fraction of the aquatic animals on Earth.

Two divers swimming beside a basking shark while it's filter feeding
Basking shark. (Photo Credit: Chris Gotschalk / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

This photo of a basking shark alongside two divers truly looks like a creature from our nightmares, especially if it were swimming toward us. The fact these are the second-largest living shark species, combined with the appearance of their open mouthes, makes them look like they’re ready to swallow anything (or anyone) in their path.

Although they look terrifying, basking sharks are actually harmless filter feeders, whose mouths help them eat plankton. The only shark larger than them is the whale shark, which is also a filter feeder.

Diver swimming around the anchor hawse hole at the bow of the sunken USS Saratoga (CV-3)
Anchor hawse hole at the bow of the sunken USS Saratoga (CV-3). (Photo Credit: Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images)

This diver has come across what looks like a giant, evil manta ray with mouth feelers ready to swallow up its unsuspecting victims. However, what looks like a mouth is actually the anchor hawse hole of the sunken USS Saratoga (CV-3), not that this knowledge makes the above photo any less ominous.

Serpent d'océan sculpture at sunset
Serpent d’océan, a sculpture of a terrifying sea creature, in France. (Photo Credit: Yves LC / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fortunately, the skeleton of this giant serpent in France is just an artist’s rendition of a monstrous creature, not something that actually swims in the deep – that we know of, that is. Huang Yong Ping has certainly made it look like a realistic monster, with the detailed sea serpent measuring an impressive 130 meters.

Sunken ships

Although it’s expected that you’ll find shipwrecks located within many large bodies of water, that doesn’t make them any less eerie to come across. There are over three million throughout the world, and while some were purposefully scuttled, others weren’t, tragically sinking with their crews and whatever else they may have been carrying.

Diver swimming around the stern of the sunken USS Carlisle (APA-69)
Diver at the stern of the sunken USS Carlisle (APA-69). (Photo Credit: Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images)

This photo of the USS Carlisle (APA-69) looks like a ghost ship trawling the depths of the ocean. The attack transport was once an active US Navy vessel that saw service during the latter part of World War II and later became a target vessel for atomic bomb testing in the Bikini Atoll, where it remains to this day.

Bow of the RMS Titanic shipwreck
Bow of the sunken RMS Titanic. (Photo Credit: NOAA / Institute for Exploration / University of Rhode Island / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The famous RMS Titanic is one of the world’s best-known shipwrecks. It lies deep on the sea floor, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Perhaps it’s the age of the wreck, or maybe it’s the many tales that go along with it, but this is certainly a sight that would be bone-chilling to come across in the water.

Other things sink, too

Of course, shipwrecks are one of the most common sunken objects in the water, but there are many other vehicles that have found themselves on the seafloor, some of which prove difficult to understand how they exactly got there.

Pilot dummy sitting within the cockpit of a sunken Lockheed C-130 Hercules
A pilot dummy sits in the cockpit of a downed Lockheed C-130 Hercules in the Red Sea, off Aqaba, Jordan. (Photo Credit: Tyson Paul / Loop Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

It doesn’t matter that sitting inside the cockpit of this sunken Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a crash test dummy, not a human body. At first glance, and every glance afterward, it looks like a skeleton wearing a pilot’s suit, sitting in the seat where he crashed his aircraft into the Red Sea.

Diver swimming around a sunken military tank
Sunken tank at the bottom of the Red Sea. (Photo Credit: Tyson Paul / Loop Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

This tank may not be as spooky as the ghostly pilot, but it’s certainly not what you’d expect to come across at the bottom of the Red Sea. It makes you wonder how – and why – it ended up there.

Just plain spooky

Outside of aquatic creatures and sunken vehicles, there are other spooky underwater things that don’t fall into these categories. A few of these are art installations, which have taken on a much more sinister appearance than was likely intended.

Sculptures making up the Cancún Underwater Museum
Cancún Underwater Museum. The sculptures are made from real people. (Photo Credit: Luis Javier Sandoval / VW Pics / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

One of these installations, located in the waters near Cancún, Mexico, looks like a giant underwater cemetery where the gravestones are human sculptures. It’s actually part of an underwater museum designed to draw tourist attention away from the nearby coral reefs. It’s made up of three separate galleries, with over 500 sculptures, all submerged underwater.

Diver swimming behind a sculpture of three skeleton-like figures
A diver swims next to metal figures set up on an artificial reef near Ko Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand. (Photo Credit: Romeo GACAD / AFP / Getty Images)

Maybe these other statues, located in the Gulf of Thailand, look more harmless because they are shown in the daylight, but they certainly aren’t something you’d want to come across in darker waters. Like the aforementioned human statues, they’re also part of coral reef conservation efforts in Thailand.

Underwater sign reading, "STOP. PREVENT YOUR DEATH! GO NO FARTHER."
Sign warning divers without the proper certification to stay out of the underwater cave at Vortex Spring, Florida. (Photo Credit: Greg Grimes / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

This ominous warning sign is located in Vortex Spring, a popular diving park in Florida. It was installed at the entrance of an underwater cave on the property, following the deaths of roughly 15 people. Now, divers can only enter if they have the right certifications. The sign is made worse by the fact that at least one death was a suspected murder.

Three divers swimming in dark water, illuminated only by a powerful light
Divers from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Greenpeace dive with powerful diving lights, off French Guiana. (Photo Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images)

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Perhaps it’s this photo of divers floating in a pitch black expanse that’s the most frightening one of all. Illuminating only their surroundings directly in front of them, they could be surrounded by any number of creepy creatures, sunken vessels or other underwater oddities and not even know it.


Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.