Thalassaphobe’s Nightmares

Words by: Ruby Ellam
Art by: Lisa Vullings

Open water is way scarier than space — there, I said it. 

Aliens are a huge maybe, but sharks are very much real. What’s worse? Rumour has it they’re supposed to be the softies of the sea! But for the sake of this article, I bit the bullet and put together a list of the coolest and freakiest things lying under the horizon; including the ocean floor’s many treasures and strange skeleton lakes. I’ll warn you now, it’s not just Sebastian the Crab down there. 

Blackbeard’s Cannons 

If you, like me, thought Blackbeard was made up for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise then join in the glorious news that not only is he real, but we’ve found his cannons! Massive weapons that once decked
out the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ now reside at East Carolina University where they recently discovered paper inside one of the cannons that could be deciphered. So now we know that Blackbeard was a fan of Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711.

Remnants from the Very First Sea Battle 

The Punic Wars were the first recorded naval battle, and the remains of the Marsala Ship still rest at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. These ship pieces belonged to the Carthaginian Empire that lost to the Romans in 241 B.C., showering the ocean floor with debris, gold, coins and other items that reside there over two centuries later. They are considered priceless in academic circles, and pieces from this particular battle were still being discovered as late as 2013. 

An Underwater Gallery

In Cancun, Mexico you can check out an underwater sculpture garden filled with an entire collection of submerged artworks. These include life-size, realistically rendered versions of those local to the area. It sounds a bit like a graveyard at first (that one is in Florida, just look up Neptune Memorial Reef), but it’s actually more like a bunch of people chilling underwater, which is just a standard Saturday night. 


Nestled in the hard-to-reach Indian Himalayas is a mysterious spot littered with human bones, nicknamed the ‘Skeleton Lake’. It remains frozen most of the year, but in particularly warm summers, scientists return to the site to decipher the skeletons. They’ve identified bones from as early as the seventh century up until 100 years ago, from all across Asia and Europe — curiously including a group of 14 Mediterranean born travellers including men, women and children, none related and all of which died from blunt force trauma to the head. While scientists offer particularly terrible hail storms as a reason for these brutal deaths, questions still remain as to why this lake has become a mass grave site for so many different types of people over so many centuries? 

Dead Zones 

Dead zones, while naturally occurring, have greatly increased in the last 100 years thanks to dumbass humans. When bodies of water become nutrient-
saturated, these patches are rendered uninhabitable
by any living creatures due to low oxygen levels. Similar to how Aussie coral reefs turn into chalky wastelands, dead zones drive out mobile life and turn whatever can’t swim away into an underwater desert. Why am I being a bummer? Because climate change
is scary, dummy! 

The Stuff We Can’t Find

Where is Malaysia Airlines’ Flight 370? Or Amelia Earhart? How can things just not be there anymore? Whilst I’m a fan of conspiracy theories, I think the scariest explanations for all these disappearances are the simplest — the ocean is BIG. And if you crash, no one will find you. On that light note, let me remind you
that we have no clue what’s going on under the horizon and urge you to never return to the water. Don’t believe me? Go on the subreddit r/thalassophobia. Nightmare fuel. 

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