The Terrifying Tempest: 35+ Bone-Chilling Open Water Photos

By Giovanni DS

Of the many phobias now known to man, the fear of the open ocean has to be one of the most common. There is just something about that endless expanse of blue and the hundreds of creatures that lurk unseen beneath it that makes people terrified. It’s no wonder that dozens, if not hundreds, of suspenseful and horrific stories, fictional or fantastical, are set on the seas. Or at least have a connection to them.

This terrifyingly fascinating topic has inspired the article we have for you today. So, why not join us as we sail across the seven seas and explore some incredible, if not petrifying, aquatic-themed pictures that people have taken? These pictures perfectly showcase how terrifying the sea can be and why it is wise to fear, if not respect it.

Brace Yourself!

The next time you think about how much you hate your office job, just remind yourself of this picture. You really have to respect people like this guy who works on ships in conditions like this. Imagine a life where your workday includes waves that can tower over ships.

Instagram by ihaig72sydney

The only thing we imagine you can do in a situation like this is to hold on for dear life. This picture is said to have been taken along the eastern coast of Australia, where waves like this are created by atmospheric pressures and cyclones.

Out in Stormy Seas

And speaking of waves that are bigger than ships, this next one is absolutely petrifying. We cannot imagine what level of mental fortitude you need to sail through seas like this one. We’d definitely need lots of therapy if we were in their place.

X by Roger_Weston

At least we know the crew made it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be looking at this image. A macabre thought, yes, but also a reassuring one. We can’t even imagine how worse it must have been back when ships were only made of wood.

Diving into the Unknown

As brave as some of these people may seem, for many them, they’re just trying to earn a living. That said, pictures like these sometimes make you question their sanity. Guys like the one in the following image willingly dive in heart-stopping locations.

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Underwater cave diving or cave explorations have been popular among divers for years. But this one is just insane. Imagine diving into a cave like this one that is almost completely covered in darkness save for one beam of light.

Shadowy Night at Sea

While the sea or the open ocean can be terrifying for some, for others, it is a place of pure beauty. For a long time, the ocean has been regarded as both a place of beauty and fear. And it’s not the only thing held in that regard.

Reddit by Mercarcher

The night has also long been thought of, romanticized, and portrayed as equally unsettling and enchanting. A sentiment perfectly captured in this stunning photograph of an expansive black sea under the night sky and the beautiful glow of the moon.

Art in the Deeps

If anyone were to ever truly appreciate that dual quality of fear and beauty that the ocean evokes, it would be artists. What you are looking at is an old and rusty 18-meter-long ship resting at the bottom of the sea.

Instagram by andremusgrove

And a model dangling off it! She seems to be garbed in what looks like a mix between ballet and 60-era clothing. Well, it is certainly a stunning and attention-grabbing photograph that makes you wonder how exactly they did it.

What is Happening Here?

Speaking of unique artsy photographs, some people are just blessed with incredibly creative minds. This confusing optical spectacle had us confused for a few seconds until we figured out what we were looking at. Here’s a clue: the lake is frozen.

Reddit by esmo52

One guy is skating atop the frozen surface of the lake as the second guy swims underneath. We don’t know what’s worse, going for a swim in that kind of temperature or having to find a hole to surface from for air. This one would be a trigger for so many phobias!

Swimming with Sharks

Now, if you thought that last guy was crazy, the person in the next image really took it to another level. You’ve heard of shark cage diving, right? Well, are you interested in swimming with sharks without a cage around you, keeping them away?

Reddit by thejournaloflosttime

She certainly was. While it might look dangerous, it technically isn’t. That’s because these are leopard sharks, a species that is known to be quite shy, timid, and generally harmless to humans. In fact, the only recorded leopard shark attack happened in 1955.

Tugging Oil Platforms

Oil platforms or rigs are generally gigantic and monstrous floating islands that can weigh between 5,000 and 40,000 tons! If you are like us, then you must have also wondered just how they got them out to sea. Lucky for you, we have a photo that could explain a small part of the process.

Reddit by D3qual

The person who took this photograph works on a tugboat designed to tow oil platforms to where they need to be. They can do this thanks to the liquid base that oil platforms rest on, which allows them to be moved without much force.

The Power of the Sea

If you know anything about working on an oil platform/rig, you are probably also aware of how dangerous of a job it can be. Like if you think about it, you’re stuck on a giant metal platform so far out in the ocean that you can’t even see land.

Reddit by MCPenner

Not to mention that you are completely at the mercy of the sea. Imagine standing around the sides of this platform while those massive waves crash against it relentlessly. These guys probably know that it won’t tip over, thanks to the massive posts beneath it, but still…

A Lurking Shark

You often hear that sharks get a bit of an undeserved bad rep. That we tend to depict them as monsters too often. And while that might be true, you just can’t help but feel scared when you spot one swimming towards you.

Reddit by [deleted user]

Just like the shark in this image evokes feelings of fear as it ominously lurks through the cloudy water, almost hidden from sight. You have to wonder if the people who took the picture expected to see a shark so close by.

A Cave to Where?

You don’t often remember that much of the world is covered in water; in fact, around 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. Out of that, we haven’t even explored 80% of the ocean, especially what lies hidden beneath the cold and dark waves.

Reddit by charliespannaway

For example, imagine you were this person out on a relaxing day of kayaking, and you spot this cave. Doesn’t the mysterious quality of the entrance just make your thoughts run wild as you try to imagine where it might lead?

An Abandoned Mine

Speaking of underground entrances and what might be hiding beyond them, take a look at this next photograph. Apparently, the person who posted this image was exploring a 150-year-old abandoned gold mine one day – you know, as everyone does – and found this.

Reddit by Responsible_Shark_83

What might look like a dark puddle of water is, in fact, the mouth of a vertical mine shaft, the exact length of which we don’t know. After seeing this, we’d be too scared to go further for fear the ground would give way!

The Dangers of Making a Nature Documentary

One of the best things about nature documentaries is that they allow us to learn about the world around us from the comfort of our homes. A luxury that would not have been possible without the brave people behind the cameras.

Reddit by MiTa988

This rather nerve-racking photograph shows one such individual. If the image of a shadowy shark was not bad enough, the open mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth makes it absolutely terrifying. No amount of money would convince us to do this!


While sharks might have a reputation as the deadliest killers of the seas, orcas are just as terrifying. You don’t earn the nickname ‘killer whale’ for nothing! If anything, they are arguably even more dangerous because they hunt in groups and are cunningly smart.

Reddit by br4ndnewbr4d

This photograph is another perfect example of something that looks both enchanting and chilling. In case you’re wondering just how big an orca is, the average adult reaches lengths of 6-8 meters and can weigh 4-6 tons. Fortunately, they aren’t usually a threat to humans.

Even Land is not Safe

As much as we love going to the beach or dream about having a picturesque beachfront house, we shouldn’t forget that that has issues of its own. For instance, getting to your house and discovering that it’s surrounded by more water than land.

X by bothcoasts

This shocking picture was taken by a homeowner who lived on a beach in Naples, Florida. The mini lake you see outside their windows was caused by Hurricane Ian back in 2022. We hope their insurance covers any hurricane-related damages.

Beautiful yet Terrifying

Not sure if it was just us, but did any other Lord of the Rings fans also picture the Eye of Sauron when they saw this lake-like feature? We’re not exactly sure what it is, but it’s apparently 150 meters deep!

Instagram by kirxxii

And while it is certainly an incredible photograph, we would be far too scared to venture out for a swim here. What if it’s an unknown extra-dimensional portal to the abyss? Or maybe the lair of a Kraken or some other ocean monster!

Underground Fresh Water Storage

If there is one principle that best sums up the progress of human innovation, it would have to be ‘trial and error.’ For every successful invention or technological creation, there were dozens of earlier, non-functional prototypes that came before it.

Reddit by TheRealSlimHayzel

Water sanitation was one of these things, as people and cultures all over the world have thought of many creative ways to keep their water supplies clean. What you are looking at is an underground freshwater storage area in Munich, Germany.

Just Chilling Underwater

Just as there are scores of picturesque wonders all around us on land, there are as many to be found beneath the sea. All you need to do is be in the right place and keep your eyes and imagination open.

Reddit by adamfreediver

Just like this gentleman did. One diver’s hole in a rockface is another diver’s place to sit down and take a picture. He must have some serious lung capacity because we do not see an oxygen tank anywhere near him.

Sailing in a Storm

Generally speaking, you would normally want to steer clear of any approaching storm, especially when you’re out at sea. But sometimes, you don’t have a choice in the matter, in which case your only option is to sail into the eye of the storm.

Reddit by dwstevens

Something this person seems to know a thing or two about. The phrase ‘the eye of the storm’ refers to the center of a storm or cyclone where the weather is calmest. So, if you’re stuck in a storm, you might as well find the safest place to wait it out.

The Shoreline of Higgins Lake

For those who have been to a beach or live along the coast you’re familiar with the shoreline and how it gradually becomes deeper the further you swim. In most places, the descent is fairly gradual before it gets a lot steeper in other places.

Reddit by candlegum

This is Higgins Lake in Roscommon County, Michigan, which is a large recreational and fishing area. The lake is known for its clear shallow waters, as well as its sudden, steep drop-off, hence the difference in water color. The lake’s maximum depth is 41 metres!

Diving into the Abyss

Speaking of giant drops, some people really seem to have no problem with literally diving into the abyss. The thought of deep-water diving is already frightening enough, so willingly diving into a giant and dark crater is the stuff of nightmares. At least for us

Reddit by kristinkuba

It’s almost like diving into the lair of an underwater creature long lost to history. That said, we are really curious about where this crater is. Not because we want to dive there, though! No, we will leave that to the more adventurous swimmers.

Bravery or Stupidity?

You know, sometimes you look at a picture and wonder, were the people in it really brave or just really stup… — we mean, caught by surprise. Like the two people in this photo. Did they know the waves would get that big?

Reddit by debblauss

Maybe they just needed a shower and were a bit too lazy to have one the conventional way. At least they had that railing to hold on to. Imagine walking along the side and then suddenly getting hit and dragged off by a wave. New fear unlocked!

Diving Where No Light Reaches

You’ve probably seen plenty of terrifying deep-water dives at this point to last you more than a lifetime. But this one is truly worth seeing. If the dives earlier weren’t frightening enough, imagine swimming in an area as dark as this.

Reddit by

Well, things aren’t always how they seem. We’re not sure how true the story behind the photograph is, but apparently, the lack of light was due to a cluster of clouds covering the sun while the swimmers were busy exploring. Super scary

A Rusty Shipwreck

When it comes to things you should not mess with, the open ocean is way on top of that list. We have seen just how big some waves can get and how fiercely they smash against anything in their way.

Reddit by get-priest-on-LWIAY

Sometimes – we assume most times – the sea wins, as was likely the case for this half-sunken and rust-covered ship. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out much about the vessel or what happened to it. Hope the crew was rescued.

The Elpida Wreck

While we are still on the topic of shipwrecks, we actually do know something about this next one. Located off the shores of the island of Cyprus are the sunken remains of the Elpida, an old cargo ship that was scuttled in 2019.

Reddit by alex-dawson-photography

Scuttling is the practice of intentionally sinking ships that are too old or unsafe to use for future voyages. That said, this process took on another purpose in recent years when it was discovered that sunken ships could be used to create artificial reefs for ocean life.

The North Sea

In the northern waters of Europe lies the North Sea, a 970-kilometer-long and 580-kilometer-wide body of water. Due to its proximity to several European countries – Great Britain, Denmark, and Germany – it is one of the key shipping lanes in Europe.

Reddit by Morksky

That said, while it is an import shipping and fishing lane, the North Sea is also regarded as one of the most dangerous seas in the world. This is due to its shallow waters that allow for powerful currents that pull in various directions. Can you imagine facing waves like these?

Watch Your Step

When it comes to exploring the colder regions of the world – like Alaska, the Arctic, and Antarctica – subzero temperatures are not the only things to be concerned about. You also have to watch out for ice fissures and sinkholes, like the one in this picture.

Instagram by argonautphoto

Let this petrifying image serve as a reminder of why you should always pay attention to your surroundings. While this is an incredible photograph, we have to question the sanity of the photographer. How can someone stand so close to the edge?

A Lightning Storm at Sea

We’ve already seen a few stormy sea photographs, but have you ever seen what a lightning storm looks like in the ocean? Well, now you know. It’s absolutely terrifying. We cannot think of anything worse than being stuck out there during such a ferocious storm!

Reddit by communist_caleb

Some rather observant people on the internet have pointed out that they see an angry-looking face shaped by the clouds. Can you see it? Someone even said they imagine it could be the face of Zeus or Thor lashing out with lightning!

Just an Ordinary Day for a Lighthouse

After all the pictures we have seen of powerful waves smashing themselves against everything in their way, you have to wonder how strong a building has to be to withstand such force. A perfect example of such buildings is lighthouses, which tend to be right on the coast.

Facebook by Jim Scott Photography

This captivating series of photographs gives us a glimpse into the daily of a lighthouse. We wonder how long it takes the staff stationed inside them to get used to the waves smashing around them. It must be nerve-wracking at first.

Unsettlingly Calm Waters

Generally speaking, a lot of these scary ocean-based photographs seem that way because of how terrifying and chaotic a stormy sea can look. It’s as if you can feel the power of the waves through your screen. And yet, even stillness can be frightening.

Reddit by iambrilliant

While this photograph of a lone kayak surrounded by startlingly calm waters might appear enchanting for some, there is also something a bit unnerving about it. The lack of any movement or life nearby just makes your heart beat a little faster!

Are the Aliens Here?

How many of you also briefly forgot you were reading about scary ocean photos when you saw this photo, and your first thought was, “Yep, that’s an alien tractor beam.” Well, it’s not, so let’s just get that out of the way.

Facebook by André Musgrove Underwater Photography

The beam of light you see is caused by the ‘water column’ phenomenon. The concept of a water column is used in oceanography to describe the physical characteristics of seawater at various depths, one being the degree of light penetration.

An Abandoned Limestone Mine

When you think of kayaking, you probably just view it as a relaxing daytime activity. Paddling along a waterway as you take in the natural world around you. However, it seems some people have different ideas about how they like to enjoy themselves.

Reddit by appleyjuice13

Like this individual who decided to explore an abandoned limestone mine while kayaking. While it does look a bit inviting and interesting, we hope the passages are wide enough so you don’t end up getting stuck or lost when you try to leave.

That’s One Way to go shark-watching

Shipwrecks are a sort of attraction for adventurous divers. Sometimes because there was a story attached to the sunken ship, and other times simply because people found them fascinating. This person certainly had an incredible experience.

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While on holiday in The Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau, this person explored the remains of Big Crab, an ancient sunken ship and popular diver’s attraction. The trip got even more awesome when they spotted a Caribbean reef shark swimming by.

Even Weeds Look Creepy Underwater

While lakes can certainly be very beautiful, they also have the special ability to instantly make something very unsettling. Sure, at first glance, the weed-like things in this photo look kind of tranquil. But would you actually go and swim in there?

Reddit by mike____f

Our guess is a resounding “no.” For starters, you have no idea what they are. And secondly, you have no idea what could be hiding and lurking within it. So, yeah, we are more than content to admire the lake from a distance!

A Giant Vortex in the Black Sea

Lying between Europe and Asia, surrounded by Anatolia and the Balkans, is the Black Sea, an important trading route in the region. Its name is attributed to the dark color of its waters. Something you don’t really notice in this photograph.

Reddit by RoccomGG

But do you notice the strange white shapes on its surface? What you are looking at is the build-up of a giant vortex. A strong enough build-up can create whirlpools that can sink ships or even form cyclones that can wreak havoc.

The Eerie Remains of a Structure

Just as you can find the old remains of buildings and structures buried beneath the earth, you can also find them buried in water. Most of them are old and sunk centuries past, while others are more recent and caused by floods or other freak weather events.

Reddit by Ganemede-x

Like this – whatever it was – structure that lies beneath the waters of this lake. The wooden frame is all that remains of what it once was. Perhaps it was once a fence, a pier, or the foundations of a bridge.

Life Imitates Art

This is wonderful old adage that poetically describes the relationship between art and life. If art is prized, respected, and loved for its ability to capture the wonders of the natural world by human hand, then life itself can be said to be art.

Reddit by Myzzelf0

At least, that’s what came to mind when we saw this enchanting and eerie photograph of the sea at nightfall. Something about the way the light of the moon shines on the surface makes it almost look like an oil painting.

Underwater Repairs

While we don’t really think about it, underwater structures require maintenance just as much as their land-based counterparts. Which raises the question: How do you fix something underwater? Well, sometimes you just drag it back on land. But other times…

Reddit by HannahAquanaut

it can be more complicated. Particularly when we talk about giant structures resting on the floor of the ocean. In cases like this, you have to don an astronaut-like suit as in the picture below, swim down, and get to work.

A Little Starfish

The archipelagic country of the Philippines is home to many stunning locations and attractions like the Balicasag island, which is a tourist attraction and marine sanctuary off the coast of Pangalo, Bohol. Balicasag is also regarded as the most popular diving spot in the country.

Reddit by mgabatangdagat

This stunning photo was taken by a diver, and for once, there’s nothing scary about this depiction of life under water. Instead, we are greeted by a colourful coral with the cutest little blue starfish just chilling. It almost looks like it’s waving to the camera.

A Shipwreck Near Malta

Speaking of picturesque island locations, the southern European island country of Malta has to be one of the most stunning places in the world. Unfortunately, things are not always as idyllic beneath the waves as they are on the surface.

Reddit by fanton18

Near the island nation and resting 35 meters beneath the sea are the remains of the Libyan tanker Um El Faround, scuttled to the deep following a gas explosion. At least it now serves as a home for marine life.

An Underwater Cavern in Mexico

And we’re back to more unsettling deep-sea diving pictures because they never fail to make your palms a little clammy! This picture was, apparently, taken inside a gigantic cave in Mexico. You would never guess with how little light there is.

Instagram by jferraragallery

Sure, there is that one bright beam covering the diver, but what about the rest of the cave? How do they know there isn’t something down there just waiting to help themselves to a scuba diver sandwich? That’s right, they don’t!

Can Trees Grow Underwater?

There are a handful of facts that everyone is sure they know, understand and believe unquestioningly like water is wet, rocks fall downwards, and trees grow upwards. Well, prepare to have your world turned upside down because ours certainly was!

Reddit by [deleted user]

Just by looking at this picture you will instantly realise that something is not right. Like, when did trees start growing horizontally and underwater? Yeah, we know you’re too smart to fall for that. Our guess is that they were knocked over by a storm.

Exploring Ancient Caves

Back to the adage of life imitating art, this next picture is a perfect example of when that happens. Or rather when art is inspired by life. Doesn’t this cave look like something you would find in a fantasy or horror story?

Instagram by twanathan

This haunting, magical cave is part of a gigantic submerged cave network in Mexico. It is officially the largest connected cave network in the world, measuring 348 kilometres! For a visual aid, that’s the same distance between London and Paris!

More Creepy Water Trees

Speaking of horror story-worthy material and linking back to submerged trees, doesn’t this image also make you a little uncomfortable? We know they’re just roots, but they also look a bit like skeletons, which makes them unsettling to look at.

Reddit by Ape_Squid

Or you could also say they look like the tentacles of some monster, cleverly disguised to fool you into thinking it’s just a bunch of roots. It’s just waiting for you to reach down before it wraps itself around your arms and ankles and drags you away!

Diving at the Blue Hole

In the bay of Clarence Town, a town in The Bahamas, you will find a fascinating natural formation known as Dean’s Blue Hole. A blue hole is a large marine sinkhole or cavern, open to the surface with a bank around it.

Instagram by adamfreediver

It is said that some of these caverns can lead to submerged passages. Here we see that some people decided to have a little photoshoot along the rock formations. The size of the divers really gives you an idea of how big the sinkhole is.

The Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is a gigantic ocean basin between the United States and Mexico. It is also one of the most important petroleum production regions in the world. It’s an important shipping and resource-rich region, yes, but also a dangerous one.

Reddit by CaptAnonymous89

The gulf is known to have some vicious currents and erratic and chaotic weather changes. Something you can see for yourself in this image. Those blue edges you see? Yeah, that is a ship. No idea how it’s still floating.

A Deep Sea Honeymoon

Some couples travel to exotic locations or famous cities for their honeymoons, anniversaries, and personal time. Other couples, like the ones in this photograph, seem to prefer something a bit more adventurous, like exploring sunken ships in a dark and cloudy sea. We’re jealous, yes, but this certainly wouldn’t be us.

Reddit by [deleted user]

We know they were in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, but that’s about all we know. While the water is a little too dark for our tastes, at least they look like they had fun. Not the creepiest we’ve seen but we’d certainly pick a trip to Barcelona over this.

Gjoa Haven

We hope you have something warm to wear because this next one looks as cold as it is unnerving. This crack runs near the Inuit hamlet of Gjoa Haven in Nunavut, the northernmost territory of Canada. It’s a scary but common sight.

Reddit by NimblyJimblyNS

It’s been reported that the locals frequently have to find ways of crossing cracks like these while hunting for food. Sometimes, they can cross them using their handmade sledges or snowmobiles, but some like the one above are far too wide to cross.

Abandoned Silver Mines in Lake Superior

This lake is known as the Silver Islet in northwestern Ontario, Canada. The name refers to both the small island and the community that lives on the island. The area was once one of the richest silver mines in North America.

Reddit by Mooky7

The mining area was flooded in 1884 when the pump system that controlled the flow of the lake broke down. The mine was quickly rendered unsalvageable as water levels reached over 380 metres below ground, with pumping operations estimated to be too costly. This is how it look now.

How Many Underwater Craters Are There?

To finish things off, we have another picture of a diver who is either really brave or lacks some common sense. We first thought this was another ‘blue hole,’ but then we realized it was far too below the surface to be one.

Reddit by GarysCrispLettuce

But then again, we aren’t experts. It might be a blue hole. Either way, just look how dark it is inside! We honestly wonder how these divers willingly explore these sunken craters. After researching and compiling this article, we sadly admitted that ‘brave’ isn’t an adjective we’d use to describe ourselves!