The Depths Below: 40 Photographs that Reveal How Little We Know About What’s Lurking in the Ocean

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By: Catarina Williams | Last updated: Dec 06, 2022

Whether you’re terrified or delighted by massive bodies of water, one thing’s for sure – there’s something mesmerizing and enticing about these mysterious, uncharted regions of our planet.

If you’re ready to discover what’s lurking down there, then let’s dive in! 

Shark Party

One shark is terrifying, but a school of sharks? That’s nightmare material! We can only hope that the diver who took this picture was well out of reach of that massive collection of hammerhead sharks.  

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Source: Chocolatecows88/Reddit

We’ve never been diving with sharks ourselves, but plenty of people do it and live to tell the tale. While sharks certainly are dangerous apex predators, they’re clearly not as much of a threat to humans as films like Jaws would have us believe. Still, we’ll stay out of their territory just to be on the safe side!

Scared Shark?

This shark has the same look on its face that we get when we stand on something squishy in the dark. We wonder what inspired it to break the surface of the water with that expression on its face. Perhaps sharks can be afraid of the dark too?

 

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Source: Deleted User/Reddit

Of course, sharks aren’t scared of the dark in the way humans are. In fact, sharks like the Greenland shark and the bluntnose sixgill spend their lives in near-permanent darkness. 

Lovecraftian Fossils

Whales may be the gentle giants of the ocean, but there’s still something vaguely terrifying about their size. Just take a look at this whale backbone and tell us it doesn’t send at least a few shivers up your spine. 

 

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Source: MintyBobas/Reddit

This whale relic was found in a waterway in Norway. It’s amazing what tides and currents can bring to the surface. We hope the whale who owned those bones enjoyed a long and happy life exploring the vast expanse of the ocean.  

Hunting Grounds

If this picture gives you the creeps, it’s possible that you have galeophobia – the fear of sharks. Galeos is the ancient Greek word for shark, and as you probably already know, phobia comes from Phobos, which means fear. Incidentally, there was an ancient Greek god named Phobos, and he was the incarnation of fear and panic.

 

 

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Source: alwaysthecat/Reddit

A bit of galeophobia is probably a healthy thing since no one wants to end up being a meal for a shark. However, it’s never good to let your fears get out of control. 

Gazing into the Abyss

Would you be comfortable diving into that gaping abyss to see if you can swim to the bottom of it? If so, you’re far braver than we are! We would perhaps jump in and swim about on the surface, but there’s only so far we’d be willing to dive. 

 

 

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Source: sashajuiard/Instagram

Who knows what lies in the murky depths of this sinkhole? It certainly makes for a good photograph, but all sorts of dangers could be waiting in the caverns below. We’d rather stay in the sunshine on the surface!

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The Other Kind of Beach

Most people love going to the beach, playing in the waves, and generally soaking up the sunshine. But did you know there’s another kind of beach? While we splash about on the surface-level shoreline, there are far creepier beaches waiting for us far beneath the waves. 

 

 

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Source: deepfreediving/Instagram

As strange as it is to think of an underwater beach, this diver seems completely at ease. She’s not concerned in the slightest about what might be watching her in the darkness below. You have to admire her bravery!

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Beyond the Depths Below

There’s rarely a happy backstory behind a boat lying abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. However, this boat is made extra unsettling by the strange structures towering around it. 

 

 

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Source: WashedUpNothingness/Reddit

As with many other images in this list, there’s a distinct Lovecraftian vibe to this wreck. If you’ve never read any of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories but you’re enjoying this deep dive into the strangeness of the ocean, we recommend checking out his work. Try The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow Over Innsmouth to get started. 

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Desert Island

The lucky Redditor who took this picture was staying at an Airbnb on a remote island. He went out for a paddle but ended up going far further out than he intended. Thankfully, he made it back safely and was able to share photographic proof of his adventure.

 

 

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Source: MrMalta/Reddit

Have you ever been anywhere this remote? There’s a strange sense of cosmic horror that settles over you as you realize how infinitesimally small you are compared to the ocean around you. Don’t even get us started on our stature compared to the size of the cosmos!

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Cursed Holiday Destination

If you’re ever annoyed by a flight delay caused by mechanical issues or problematic weather, think back on this picture. While it certainly isn’t fun having to spend hours waiting at the airport, it’s far better than the destination below. 

 

 

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To ensure you enjoy a safe and comfortable flight, airlines sometimes need to delay takeoff. This is a small inconvenience we all have to accept in exchange for the marvel of being able to fly all over the world. 

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The Glistening Void

If you suffer from thalassophobia, this image is sure to elicit an enthusiastic “nope” from you. While the water is a beautiful shade of green, you don’t have a hope of seeing what’s swimming around down there until you’re right on top of it. That’s certainly not a comforting thought!

 

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That lovely shade of green would only last so long. As you descend away from the sun’s rays, the murky water will get darker and darker until you’re consumed by inky blackness. Yep, we’ll be staying on the boat in the sunshine!

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Lurking in the Depths

The horror you see before you is both a real shark and a work of art. Her name is Rosie, and an artist decided to preserve her for posterity after her death in 1998. Rosie can now be seen at the Crystal World Exhibition Centre in Australia.

 

 

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Source: OnTheOctopusRide/Reddit

This photo brings out the creepy side of Rosie, but if you go to visit her in her new home (located in Devon Meadows, Victoria), you’ll see that she doesn’t look this terrifying in person. 

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The Effects of Thalassophobia

It’s understandable to feel a bit creeped out when you step into a murky lake or swim out beyond the breakers in the ocean. However, if you get that same fear of the unknown when stepping into a pool, then your thalassophobia is particularly strong. 

 

 

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Source: Felhammr/Reddit

Some people feel irrationally convinced that a sight like the image above could be waiting for them in a regular swimming pool. While this can and does happen at seaside pools fed by tidewater, you generally have nothing to fear.

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Lurking at Surface-Level 

People with thalassophobia tend to worry more about the vastness of the ocean, rivers, and lakes. However, this picture proves that there’s just as much to fear on the surface. Just look at the size of that creature!

 

 

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Source: Iamnotburgerking/Reddit

This image has been doing the rounds of Reddit, and we can confirm that it is a giant sturgeon. It may look terrifying, but sturgeon pose no threat to humans. They don’t have teeth and instead feed by sucking little creatures into their mouths and crushing them.

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The Essence of Life

This picture is a stunning representation of the power of water. In it, you can see the massive roots of a tree bathed in life-giving water. Beneath, a diver gazes up at this marvel of nature. 

 

 

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Source: Josiahwg/Instagram

Every tree and plant on the planet is its own work of art. Their lives are important, which is why we should do all we can to preserve them. As a species, we must learn to live in harmony with the other living beings on our planet. 

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Cursed Selfie

The size of this propeller is stunning, and the diver puts into perspective just how massive it is. However, we’re not sure this is the ideal spot for a selfie. 

 

 

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Source: Pastafarnianism/Reddit

Since the ship hasn’t been functional for many years, we’ll give them a pass. However, let’s not normalize propeller selfies. That’s just asking for trouble! After all, hundreds of people die taking selfies every year. In fact, 2021 death statistics revealed that more people died that year from selfies than from shark attacks!

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When the Abyss Gazes Back

It’s hard to tell if this image is the result of Photoshop or if the water simply swirled in just the right way to create a ghostly eye. Either way, it’s creepy as heck. We would not be diving into that water!

 

 

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Source: 4acodimetyltryptamin/Reddit

What do you think? The more we look at it, the more we’re convinced that someone simply pasted a picture of an eye over the water picture and then dropped the opacity to 5%. Either way, it’s truly unsettling. 

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Crocodile Camo

The creepiest thing about deadly creatures is that they are almost always masters of disguise. Take this crocodile, for example. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just a muddy log resting on the bottom of the creek. 

 

 

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Source: the_dark_knight_ftw/Reddit

This is why you must be extra careful if you go swimming in South East Asia or the north of Australia. In fact, it’s probably safest to avoid swimming in natural waterways in these regions! Instead, head to a patrolled beach or the safety of a swimming pool. 

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What Happened to Warrant This Sign?

We understand when we see “stay out” signs posted at parks and on properties that look incredibly inviting. But who on earth needs to be told to stay out of this pitch-black underwater fissure? You couldn’t pay us to go in there!

 

 

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Source: World Adventure Divers

That skull and crossbones in the corner adds to the unsettling aura of the area. Clearly, nothing but death and decay awaits all those who venture beyond the sign. You’ve been warned – stay far away from this cave!

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Alone in the Ocean

This picture captures just how vast and uncharted the ocean truly is. Though only a minuscule fraction of the ocean’s expanse is pictured here, you can feel the depths yawning beneath this diver. It’s a truly humbling image. 

 

 

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Source: HollieMariee/Reddit

We’re not sure what’s scarier – the endless emptiness or the idea that there could be something out there, watching. Either way, we’re happy to stay on the boat, enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the brave divers to return. What about you?

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What Swims Beneath

Fiction writers like H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, and Herman Melville have crafted captivating tales about leviathans rising up from the depths of the ocean. Indeed, for a long time, people suspected that things like giant squid were as fictional as mermaids. 

 

 

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The reality, however, is that giant squid are terrifyingly real. This is just one of many pictures that have been captured by ocean-going vessels. Thankfully, there are no confirmed reports of any humans being killed by giant squid. 

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Not the Smartest Place for a Photo Op

While we gave a pass to the last propeller selfie, this one is a disaster waiting to happen. That is not a shipwreck – it’s a perfectly functioning vessel. And when you’re underwater, you have no way of knowing that the captain won’t fire that thing up. 

 

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Source: MegaPythonVSGatoroid/Reddit

How is anyone on the boat supposed to know that you’re down there? What if an emergency happens and they have to get going? This is an excellent way to become a selfie death statistic. 

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Someone’s Watching

People have all sorts of fears relating to the ocean, but seals generally don’t factor into anyone’s concerns. They are, after all, referred to as the “dogs of the ocean,” and with good reason. Seals are adorable, curious, playful, and non-aggressive toward humans.

 

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This seal probably means well, but it would be undeniably alarming to see this rising from the darkness if you were swimming in the ocean. This would definitely send us hurtling back toward the shore as fast as we could swim!

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Impossibly Dark

The deeper you descend into the ocean, the less light is able to penetrate. Eventually, you will find yourself in absolute darkness, with the only hope of illumination coming from the flashlight you bring with you. 

 

 

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Source: WashedUpNothingness/Reddit

This picture of a deep sea diver with a flashlight shows just how dark it is down there. If you think the pitch blackness of a moonless night is scary, then you’d better not venture this far down into the ocean! Don’t worry – we’ll be staying on dry land too!

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Hidden Huddle

If you ever head down to Mexico, it’s worth checking out these sunken sculptures. This huddle of humanoid figures is just one of many you can discover off the coast of Cancun. Thankfully, you don’t need to go too far down to see them, making it one of the less fearsome adventures we’ve seen so far!

 

 

 

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If you do explore this sunken art gallery in the Caribbean Sea, you’ll also discover crowds of sculptured people, giant hands, a VW Beetle, and plenty of other fascinating pieces.

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Into the Darkness

We’ve read and watched enough horror stories to know that nothing good is waiting for you down a gaping black hole like that. Still, some intrepid humans just can’t contain their curiosity, so down they go. 

 

 

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Source: Player82222/Reddit

What would you do if you were sailing along and looked down to see a patch of darkness in the glistening water? Would you drop anchor so you could dive in and explore it? Or would you hightail it out of there, your mind filled with dreadful images of what might be down there waiting for you?

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Beneath the Berg

The story of the Titanic taught us to fear and respect icebergs as there is far more to them than the simple block of ice that meets the eye. This image, however, proves that icebergs are far more wondrous than we ever could have imagined. 

 

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Source: Mooseborgoer/Reddit

That tiny dark speck beneath the glowing iceberg is a scientist exploring its underbelly. This gives you an idea of just how massive the frozen structure is. Who knew icebergs were so magical underneath it all?

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Mermaid Life

This youngster is only eight, yet she is far braver than we will ever be! She’s happily gazing into this underwater abyss, excited to venture further and see what treasures lie inside. Thankfully, the person behind the camera had enough sense to call her back!

 

 

 

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Source: Madcat207/Reddit

While this looks like a gaping cavern far out in the ocean somewhere, it is actually a part of the Ginnie Springs Park in Florida. If you’ve never been, you should definitely add it to your bucket list as this part of America’s south is truly stunning. 

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A Twisted Joke

Can you imagine braving the murky depths only to have this cartoonish monster loom out of the darkness as you descend? Many a diver has been terrified by this shark, but thankfully, it’s just an elaborate joke. 

 

 

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Source: 1091drawde/Reddit

If you’re interested in seeing this monstrosity in person, it can be found at Lake Neuchâtel – a famous diving spot in Switzerland. We wonder if it has put anyone off diving for good. It would get your heart rate up, that’s for sure!

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The Real Deal

That fake shark was terrifying, but it’s still infinitely preferable to encountering the real deal. Though shark attacks are rare, and sharks generally aren’t interested in eating humans, they still pose a danger if you’re unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

 

 

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Source: Morc-Glork/Reddit

This is the kind of sight we’re happy to see from the comfort of our couches as we read through lists like this one. However, we hope to never encounter one of these majestic but terrifying creatures in real life. 

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Thanks for the Snack

Why worry about creatures of the deep when the ones that live up here on the surface are just as scary? That’s the lesson we’re taking from this picture of a snake stealing someone’s catch of the day!

 

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Did you know many snakes love to swim and hunt? Well, now you do! Thankfully, snakes generally don’t bother people unless provoked. In fact, many snake bites occur on the hands and arms because people are trying to mess with the snake. The lesson here is that if you stay out of a snake’s way, it’ll likely leave you in peace too.

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Disappearing into Nothingness

Would you dare to follow this chain to the end? If so, we’ll leave you to it as we’d much rather stay on the safety of the deck! Although, we do hope you take a waterproof camera so you can show us what you find down there. 

 

 

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Source: Detonator212/Reddit

If you ever feel like all the mystery has drained out of your life and everything has become predictable, it might be time for a career change. Start studying marine biology, and you’ll soon realize that we barely know a fraction of what’s going on in the depths of the ocean. 

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The Call of Cthulhu

This picture is giving off strong Cthulhu vibes, and though we wouldn’t want to meet this creature in the flesh, we are here for it. There’s something strangely comforting about reading horror stories like The Call of Cthulhu from the comfort and safety of your cozy bed. 

 

 

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Source: HO/National Science Museum

Octopuses are among the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Indeed, the entire cephalopod family is wildly impressive. Did you know many octopuses and cuttlefish can shapeshift and change colors at will? They are incredible creatures. 

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Sunken Spacecraft

The two great unexplored frontiers are space and the ocean. In this image, these two mysterious worlds collide. What you’re looking at is part of a spacecraft that crashed into the ocean and sunk to the sandy floor. 

 

 

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Source: ThatRacerGuy/Reddit

The Liberty Bell 7 went on its mission and returned to earth in 1961. However, this part of the craft was lost for around 38 years before it was finally discovered 16,000 feet below the surface of the water. Thankfully, the astronaut (Guy Grissom) survived.

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Blast from the Past

This picture is, of course, a fake. However, it still gives us the heebie-jeebies! How wild would it be if we shared our timeline on this planet with dinosaurs? It would be at once awe-inspiring and terrifying. 

 

 

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Source: Squeakachu_15/Reddit

If dinosaurs were still around, ocean swims and strolls on the beach would be extreme sports rather than forms of relaxation. Perhaps humans would learn to tame and herd the giant creatures as we’ve done with other animals. We’re sure there would be plenty of adventures to be had, but we’re happy dinosaurs aren’t a concern in the modern world!

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Last Moments on the Titanic 

This moment from the 1997 film, Titanic, reveals just how terrifying it must have been for passengers aboard the ship. Can you imagine being on a supposedly unsinkable vessel and watching water flood into the cabin around you? 

 

 

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Source: Paramount Pictures (20th Century Fox)

Interestingly, many surviving passengers of the Titanic stayed at The Jane Hotel in New York City after they were rescued. So, if you ever want to experience a bit of Titanic nostalgia, add a visit to The Jane to your itinerary. 

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A Real Deep Dive

Some people are such thrill-seekers that their adventurous spirit leads them to giant holes in the ocean. The person in this picture doesn’t even appear to have an oxygen tank handy. We’re guessing this is a free diver. 

 

 

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Source: Guillaume Nery/YouTube

Our first thought would be to swim away from that gaping hole, but each to their own. You have to admire the devotion, expertise, and physical prowess of free divers. We hope this was a fruitful adventure for them. And we hope even harder that they stayed safe! 

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Everything’s Fine

This is a gorgeous picture, but that dark, gaping chasm is rather alarming. We’re digging all the stalactites and stalagmites, but we can’t help but wonder about the currents that might be down there. 

 

 

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Source: AristonD/Reddit

While cenotes (giant sinkholes) like this are generally safe to swim in, it’s important to remember that many are connected to vast underground river systems. As such, if you dive too deep, you can end up in trouble. With this in mind, it’s best to hang out close to the surface. 

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Cursed Waves

This is the kind of sight that would keep many people from venturing into the waves. However, as you can see, there are plenty of surfers heading out there. What’s the deal? Are they not terrified by those tentacles? 

 

 

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Source: BeardedGlass/Reddit

The truth is that those “tentacles” are just seaweed. Cthulhu isn’t rising from the ocean to terrify us all and send us running for the hills. Nope, that’s just some garden-variety seaweed, which is why those surfers are still happy to head out and catch some waves.  

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What Is That Shadow?

Have you ever watched a horror movie only to have all the fear drain out of you once you see the monster? For some reason, we tend to find the unknown far scarier than even the most hideous monster. Well, this is true in the movies anyway! 

 

 

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Source: PointsBeforeKarma/Reddit

We can only hope this giant shadow is a rock formation, underwater sand bank, or whale. If it’s a shark, those people in the boat might be in for a few scary moments!

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Chilling on the Beach

Here’s another picture of one of those creepy underwater beaches. We wonder how far down that cavern goes. We’re not curious enough to find out for ourselves, but maybe we can track down that brave diver and ask him. 

 

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Source: TheGreatPlanet/Instagram

This guy looks perfectly serene as he gazes down into the darkness. We’re starting to feel like it might be worth confronting our fears so we can enjoy experiences like this. Excuse us while we open another tab to research diving courses! 

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