Underwater adventures have made many a person’s bucket list, from visiting the Great Barrier Reef to an encounter with a great white shark. But things no one planned to see can be just as remarkable, as divers the world over can confirm.
Whether the objects are part of a diabolical crime, evidence of bizarre marine life, or don’t fit neatly into a category, diver discoveries rank with the world’s weirdest.
Can’t envision it? Read on for entertaining and sometimes eerie eyewitness accounts of oddities underwater.
45. Sucker Punched By An Eel
I was diving in Thailand and we were at a site diving where there were two steep hills underwater full of rock formations, coral, etc. Between these two areas was a sandy bottom with scattered rocks ranging between 1-5 meters across, all full of holes and full of life.
We were swimming from one hill to the next and inspecting these rocks along the way. I was swimming along one large one when I got whacked in the side of my stomach very hard. It startled the stuff out of me and I quickly backed off. The dive instructor noticed and came over and we inspected what happened.
That’s when we saw a gigantic moray eel (I’m later told it was a Giant Moray). He was absolutely massive, never seen one so big. Was easily a couple of meters in length and was probably as wide as my head. We assume I had passed too close without noticing and he attacked, he hit my BCD and luckily didn’t persist.
44. The Perfectly Preserved Speedboat
I like kayaking when I get the chance. One day, I was in a lake up in Glacier National Park, Montana (the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I totally recommend it) when I saw a small boat. A little vintage-looking, tiny motorboat. The little tiny mini speed boats you always see in 70s movies set in Miami or something, just a few feet underwater, perfectly preserved. I could reach down and touch it. There were no signs of damage, no signs of why it sunk. It was strangely eerie. I had to leave because for some reason it just freaked me out. The idea that something could sit, inches from the air but still submerged, for years, probably. It made me so uncomfortable and I don’t know why.
43. But Was Its Name Chucky?
I was scuba diving down a ledge – dim, a bit murky – and a doll’s head lodged on the ledge face made me scream into my regulator.
42. Maybe Someone Said ‘Unhand Me Sir’
I was diving with some friends and found a fisherman’s glove with a hand still inside it… We brought the glove to the local police and they told us that they hadn’t received any kind of report of a guy with a missing hand.
41. Not Only Faster Than The Hare, Meaner
I was like 8 or 9 and snorkeling in Hawaii. I turned around in only a couple feet of water and a turtle rammed me full speed in the face. Scared the pee out of me and broke my goggles. I don’t know what the heck it was doing.
40. See You Now, Alligator
While water skiing in the lake one time (Louisiana) I flew off and landed like pretty much on top of an alligator. I kinda felt my leg hit him and we were like eye to eye when I gasped for air. Then he went under. The moments after that were the most terrifying moments of my life because I was so certain I’d feel him bite my foot any second and drag me under. I started screaming and couldn’t stop until the boat was back to me.
You don’t realize how long 2-3 minutes is until you’re alone in the open water. Never again for me.
39. The Mysterious Underwater Guest
Two buddies of mine and I were on a night dive in the Puget Sound hunting prawns. It was about 1 AM and we’re a good 100 feet deep, the most pitch black you could imagine. We used to do this thing on night dives where we’d get in a circle, turn off our lights, then stir up the water and watch the bio-luminescence float around us like floating stars in a black watery space. Beautiful. Only this one time we turn off our lights, stir up the water, and the water glows just enough to reveal a fourth person sitting in our circle.
We were at a dive resort so it wasn’t so odd to see another diver, only it was 1 AM — we’d seen no one else prepping a dive at the dock. He was also alone which was odd considering the dangerous conditions of a night dive in those waters, and he had no fins or gloves. I don’t know how he swam so well without fins or didn’t get hypothermia without boots or gloves. We wore drysuits because it was so cold but this dude was in a wet suit with exposed skin and we thought we saw a giant gash in one of the legs.
So the three of us all notice him and we’re too terrifyingly scared to move, I can hear my buddies panting, and the guy just smiles, waves, and swims away.
38. Goldfish Body, Shark Personality
I was diving in Bermuda, 85 feet down, coming out of the wheelhouse of an old fishing boat. I felt something start tapping my hand, and turned my head with thoughts of all kinds of horrible terrifying sea creatures reaching out to grab my hand and see a tiny little fish flinging itself into my hand and waving its fins at me as if to say, “Get out of my house! Go on, scram!”
That was when I discovered you could laugh through a regulator
37. The Pole That Could Vault On Its Own
I had just taken a deep breath and gone down to a reef about thirty or so below. My friend was still on the boat above and we were the only ones on the reef. I got down to the bottom and noticed a thin upright pole. Upon closer inspection, it was indeed a normal fishing pole, but old and rotten from being under the water for so long. Right as I was going to grab the pole it was pulled from my hands, just shooting up and away, as if being reeled in by the other side. It was gone within a matter of seconds, so I started my resurface expecting to see another boat responsible. No boats, nothing in sight, but of course just my friend and his boat. I never bothered telling him, because he would have never believed me anyway. The only explanation I might have is that the pole was still attached to a fish or something, although I doubt it. Still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
36. Diamonds Are A Barracuda’s Best Friend
I saw a small (baby?) barracuda start to go after one of my classmates while we were snorkeling doing a reef survey. Our instructor later told us that they are attracted to shiny things because they think it’s a small silver fish. Long story short: don’t wear metal earrings when diving in the Caribbean.
35. Seeing Red When You’re Not Supposed To
I was diving off the coast of Fiji and we went through a natural tunnel (like a 10-meter cave/passage through a rock formation). So we started swimming through the cave and suddenly the light was weird, like the blue tint from the water had been replaced by a red one. Now all divers will know that this isn’t only weird because the color changed but also because red is the first color to disappear after a certain depth (usually between 30ft -10m and 40ft -13m), and we were over 70ft (23m) deep. Also, bear in mind this was late morning on a sunny day.
So imagine this scene: me and my dive buddy are going through an underwater cave and suddenly everything, for no apparent reason, is tinted red, a color that you are literally supposed to be unable to see while diving at that depth during the day.
Upon exiting the cave, everything was back to blue. I thought it was just me so I didn’t signal to go back up. After the dive my buddy asked me if I’d seen the water tint red too. We can’t explain it and the folks from the local dive shop had no idea what we were talking about.
34. Evidence Of The Last Breath
Once I was going along a common route between two underwater waypoints when I found a small shiny object on the sand. I recognized it as part of the assembly which fits on top of the air tank and connects to the breathing regulator. Now, this is something you can’t breathe without, so it creeped the heck out of me to think about the story of how such a crucial item ended up there.
33. The Sea Creature That Could Work In Sci-Fi Movies
On one of my night dives at the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary in either 2005 or 2006, had my first encounter with a Beaded Sea Cucumber. I thought I stepped out of the real world and into a science fiction/fantasy world seeing this long worm with tentacles surrounding its mouth, like a cross between a snake and an octopus. Very scary initially; now I look for them because they are pretty cool.
32. Hygiene Takes A Dive
Our shop got a lot of business retrieving dropped items and speedboats that idiots would sink. My dad was the shop’s master instructor and normally passed these jobs on to me or one of the regulars. However, he took one job in January to test his new dry suit and took along one of his friends. I was their gear-tote, and waited on shore. Dad came up first and started telling me about this weird looking fishing lure he’d found while sifting through the silt. About that time, the buddy surfaces and asks dad why he was playing with that tampon for so long.
31. Learning From A Seagull’s Mistake
Was down by the beach when I was around thirteen. My brothers and I went down there to play a lot around then. There was a seagull, they’re pretty common around there, who flew down to the water to grab a tasty fish. Well, it must have misjudged the size, because whatever it was grabbed the seagull and dragged it underwater.
I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t want to play in the same water as it.
30. 30 Seconds Can Take Forever
I’ll never try to ford a creek again after seeing a friend fall down about 40 feet up from where the creek joins up with the Fraser river… You could see him because he kept the hand with his tackle box up above the water, going farther and farther down, closer to the river. He eventually popped up about 10 feet before the mouth.
The water coming out of the creek is colder than the river, so I always think that he would have gone down and under the river with the current, probably not surfacing until he was in the middle of the river, underwater for around 30 seconds. I don’t think he realized how close he came to losing his life that day.
Fast running water is terrifying stuff, even if it’s only a couple feet deep.
29. Goring By Grouper? No Thanks
Was doing a drift dive down in Mexico. Saw a VERY large grouper off in the distance. Let myself drift towards it. I soon realized it was far bigger than I had thought and I was putting myself in danger (possibly). This thing could have taken me down too far or damaged my gear or knocked me out. I’ve seen videos of these things eating four-foot sharks. And this bad boy was bigger than the ones in the videos. I was a bit shaken after that dive.
28. Only The Shadow Knows
My brother and I were in the water at a beach in Maui. He knows I have a fear of open water so he was messing with me like poking the back of my leg with kelp and throwing sand on my back, etc. We were just floating in like three feet of water. He had just thrown sand on my back when I turned to yell and him and he stood straight up and looked past me. I turned around and saw what he saw – the next wave that was rolling in (about a foot tall and 4 feet from where we were) and we just saw a long shadow roll by.
We got out of the water and I didn’t go back in the whole trip.
27. Seamstress Of The Sea
Me and my family were snorkeling out in Roatán. Had some interesting stuff happen: mom got attacked by a green moray (no injuries), sister got stung by a man o’ war, and we stumbled across an eleven-foot nurse shark hanging out in a shallow area.
But the thing I can’t explain is the Singer sewing machine. I’m talking one of those turn of the century things that you power with a foot pump, about thirty feet down, totally encrusted with coral. No idea what that thing was doing there, and it had obviously been there a while. Maybe it was lost overboard, or some idiot used it as an anchor or something like that.
26. Imagination Sees The Scariest Sea Creatures
I swam out into the middle of a lake in northern Wisconsin on a warm summer day. I was floating on my back, just relaxing. After a bit, I started thinking about how deep the water was, and then about a horror movie I had recently seen that featured a giant monster bursting up through the water in a lake, not unlike the one that I was floating in.
I started to feel kind of nervous.
Suddenly, I heard the most god-awful roar, as if the lake was exploding beneath me. Terrified, I bolted up to tread water only to see the trailing smoke from a SAC fighter jet that was practicing flying under the radar.
25. Even If You Are Tiny And Harmless, Stop Chasing Me!
Snorkeling on the gulf side of Mexico, just after high school. Had set up a day beach, good location, water dropped to about 20 feet deep just a short distance offshore. Things are going well, we’re seeing just HUNDREDS of fish, including a small school of puffers (didn’t even know they schooled), which scared a few people.
So at one point, I’m just swimming back up to the shallow beach and turn around to swim backward, when I see… I don’t know, 6-12 of these small fish, white bodies with yellow fins, RIGHT off the end of my flippers, swimming HARD. Like, chasing me. Moments later I’m scrambling up on the sand like a shark is right on my butt. Did that whole “look around to see if anyone noticed me being a fool” thing. In retrospect, they probably liked the current I was generating with the flippers or something, I know they weren’t dangerous. There’s just something truly frightening about something so much smaller than yourself being aggressive or chasing you.
24. Sharks Make Me Jumpy
Snorkel in the great barrier reef. when it was time to get back on the boat the underwater photographer grabbed my attention by pointing down. I looked down and there was this big shark just in a holding pattern on the bottom….needless to say, I climbed to the boat rather quickly.
23. Diving In Davy Jones’ Locker
It was my first deep wreck dive, and I was venturing in the hold of a sunken fishing trawler. At the bottom of the dark hold, I found a full-size skeleton. My wife and dive buddy freaked out and swam straight into the wall. She dropped her dive light, which settled 20 feet below between the skeleton’s legs.
I dove down alone to get it because SCUBA gear is expensive. Up close, that skeleton was an obvious plant.
22. It Only Used One Of Eight Arms
When I was little I would grab smaller moray eels, chase barracudas so I could watch them, and pet sea turtles with shells the diameter of 3′ or more. But one thing that really scared the pee out of me is when I went down probably 20′ to grab a big conch shell I saw, and just as I grabbed it an octopus tentacle the width of my forearm grabbed my arm and squeezed me against the shell. I managed to pull it off me although it definitely was tough to do (those guys are strong!). Needless to say, I surfaced, went back down to look at the perpetrator, then noped the heck away from it while I still had all my fingers intact.
21. Bizarre Stuff And Beverages: Better Together
I was out on a pontoon in a lake with some friends swimming and found like 15 dolls in a pile like 10 feet down. Not really sure what that was about. After that, we drank some beverages and had a fantastic day.
20. Diving Buddies Can Be Feathered Friends
I’m a scuba diver, and a few months ago I was diving for fossils in Venice Beach, Florida. This was at the height of all of the shark attacks on the East Coast. While I was at the bottom (around 30 feet down), out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement. Of course, since I’m wearing a mask, I can’t see anything properly out of my peripheral vision. So I turned around to face what was moving, and I see a dark round shape headed straight for me. I was using my knife to dig around the seabed for fossils, so I already had it in my hand. I prepared myself for the worst and got ready to fight a shark. Just as the object was getting close enough for me to start stabbing, it turned to the side and I finally saw what it really was.
It was a bird. A large diving seabird, about the size of a Canada goose, swimming around 30 feet deep, following divers, because we stir up fish. Honestly, it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced underwater. Until of course I found out what it was.
19. A 30-Yard Horror Movie
Drift diving in Sulawesi, Indonesia and I glided over at least a dozen human skulls in a distance of about 30 yards.
18. I’d Choose Dolphins Over Hammerheads Every Time
Years ago I was having a fun day snorkeling in the lagoon in Diego Garcia. On the way back across the lagoon a pod of dolphins came up and were jumping around the boat. Shut off the motor real quick and jumped in. I’m pretty good – usually dive down 15-20′. It was amazing. Dolphins all over the place. I went down about three times. Next time I went down.. Nothing. I looked around… And then there they were. Hammerheads. Hundreds of them. All around me. Blood went cold. Panic sets in. Some small, some as big as me (over 6′). Some were just monsters. I didn’t panic – slowly drifted back up to the surface. When my head broke the water, I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by violence incarnate – and couldn’t see a single one. I’ve never felt fear like I did while calmly trying to climb back into the boat. It was amazing. It was incredible. It was utterly horrifying.
17. A Crab That’s Never Been Categorized
The thing about night diving is that it feels completely different than a dive during the day. The dive master gave us each a flashlight, and without it, it’s complete darkness with 30 feet of water above you and who knows what swimming around you. We started our dive and after a while saw a reef shark, which was kind of unsettling, because once we turned our flashlights away from it we had no idea where it was (which isn’t a big deal, sharks are common, but knowing it’s nearby and not seeing it is kind of unsettling).
After a while we didn’t see much other than sleeping parrot fish, but then I saw the weirdest freaking crab I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard that weird stuff from deep in the ocean comes out on to the reef at night, but this crab didn’t look terrestrial. It had a small fat body, about the size of a hand, and it was standing straight up on long, long legs that were at least four feet tall. I still haven’t been able to find another one online or anywhere.
16. Dive Knife Or Criminal Weapon?
I was doing a solo dive on a wreck in Florida and found a dive knife. At first, I was pumped to get a free knife but the more I explored the wreck the more stuff I found. Pieces of wet suit torn up and some weights made me start to feel uncomfortable. It was one of the only solo dives I did and when the visibility was only 15 ft it made me really paranoid the whole ascent.
15. Stunt Skeletons, Real Plane Wreck
We were swimming in the Bahamas with our tour guide and he pointed us to a sunken plane that they used for a movie which was only about 15 feet down. So we swam down and I made it inside. It was pretty cool; someone put fake skeletons inside.
14. The Chill That Kills Curiosity
While swimming in my town’s reservoir I wanted to see how deep the res went. After diving down at least 15 ft, my feet hit an area of water that turned unreasonably cold and sent shivers right through my body. Went straight to the surface after that and I don’t plan on seeing how deep the water goes any time soon.
13. This Can Happen When Gramps Uses The Lake As A Dump
Growing up, my grandparents had a cottage on a local lake.
My grandpa used to always have weird stuff around the cottage, like old rugs and basically stuff he would find on the curb being thrown out. Well, he sometimes would throw them in the lake if he didn’t want them (I have no idea why in hindsight).
Anyway, one day I am swimming and start to step on something soft. I figured it was a rolled-up rug he threw in there. I keep swimming, and eventually get back to the pier. I look over where the carpet was and it was a big old carp.
12. An Eel Whose Idol Is Scooby Doo
Divers in one area of Honduras took to feeding an eel. It was a big as heck moray eel, and it got to like divers because they always gave it food.
One day I was on a dive and nobody gave it food, and the dive master didn’t really mention it. Next thing you know this tame moray eel is swimming furiously after a half dozen divers, and they are terrified. I hovered about 20 feet above them and watched the mayhem unfold. These people all thought they were going to die, but really that six foot moray eel with razor sharp teeth only wanted his doggie snacks.
11. Turns Out You Can Cure Stupid, For A Minute Or Two
I was once diving in a lake that had a cave about the size of a Volkswagon. I free dove into the cave and there was a young couple in there just chilling… Chilling with a few lit candles around them. The idiots thought it would be romantic to waterproof a bunch of candles and swim them into the cave for a romantic setting. I popped my head into the cave, saw the candles. The couple looked at me. I said, “You know there’s only enough oxygen in this space for two people to breath for maybe 20 minutes, right? And those candles have reduced that time by probably half.” The kid was like “So?” trying to be cool. I said, “So…any minute you’re both going to start gasping for air and suddenly be unable to take a breath large enough to swim out of the cave.” You had to hold your breath about 30 seconds to get out. The guy was still trying to be cool but the girl was like “no way” and followed me out. He came out a minute later. Understanding oxygen is important to human survival.
10. So Angry Beavers Is Not Just A Cartoon
Once saw a beaver swimming while kayaking in a lake and tried to chase it down while it was slapping its tail at me. A few hours later I read an article about a beaver lethally attacking a dude by biting his leg and severing an artery. I dodged a bullet on that one.
9. Even Flipper Looks Fearsome In The Dark
A few years back some of my friends and I were in North Carolina, staying in a small hotel right on the beach. It was around dusk, but the light was still orange so we went about 100 yards or so out. All of a sudden we saw a big as heck shark about six feet away from us. I say a big shark, but it was dark and for all we know it could have been a dolphin. Still, it turned us each into swimming like Michael Phelps as we swam back to shore, each leaving a watery pee trail.
8. A Pre-Birth Lullaby, With Bodyguards
I was 7 months pregnant, snorkeling in Barbados in an area known for sea turtles. Apparently, the turtles must have sensed a momma vibe from me because I had two turtles snuggling my belly the whole time I was in the water. And others hanging out like bodyguards. Seriously the coolest experience I have ever had in my life.
7. A Terrible Agritourism Idea
Went tubing in Georgia at 12 whilst on holiday from England. I came off, and as I was waiting to get picked up I was pretty certain I saw a couple of alligators and felt one swim past my legs, so I started freaking out. My dad scoffed as I told him this and said there was no way they’d be doing touristy tube rides in a lake with alligators in it.
So once we’d docked the boat he jokes to the guy driving it that I was convinced there were gators in there. The bloke laughed and says of course there are, then points to the other side of the lake and says “that’s an alligator farm, the little ones get through the fence and we scoop them up and send them back when we can, but there’s gonna be gators… There’s always gonna be gators.”
And that was the last time I went into a lake in Georgia.
6. Luckily I Tasted Bad
I was diving a spearfishing spot about 30 miles offshore. I was 60 feet under water. There I was, swimming along when I noticed a school of Mahi-mahi. There were about 30, maybe 40 of them. These fish were all between 2 and 5 feet long. They were so beautiful, with their sides flashing all different colors. That’s when I felt the tug on my leg. I looked down at my legs to see a 12-foot tiger shark pulling on my dive fin and taking me along for the ride. In a second he had ripped the fin off my foot. The shark then swam away but kept circling just at visual range. I think he was still curious about how I tasted. I kept an eye on him the whole time I was swimming back to the boat. Scariest moment I have ever had in the water.
5. Lurkers Of The Deep
My brother manages some huge fish pens off the coast of Hawaii. He took me out snorkeling around them while he did some maintenance. A few black tips came to investigate but swam off after a little while. When I got back in the boat, he told me that when the black tips were there, in all likelihood, there were tiger sharks 200 feet down eyeing me. That certainly didn’t help alleviate my growing fear of the open ocean.
4. Still Wearing A Wetsuit
I was diving off the Florence, OR coast with some friends and we found a body on the ocean floor in the creepiest condition possible. He was a surfer who’d gone missing a few days prior so he wore a wet suit with his legs, arms, and head exposed. Crabs had a feast from his exposed bits so basically, he was a torso with a skull and skeletal limbs.
3. Outer Space Or Underwater? Hard To Say
I was knee boarding one time in a lake not too far outside of my home town. The water is very murky and dark. Well, the front end of the board dipped down into the water but I kept holding onto the rope. I shot probably a good 20+ feet deep in a matter of a couple of seconds and when I let go I completely lost my place in space. It was pitch black and I couldn’t tell if I was right side up or upside down. Didn’t really “find” anything scary but being that lost in space is truly terrifying. Started buying more buoyant life jackets from that point forward.
2. Another Reason Dog, Not Dolphin, Is Man’s Best Friend
I did a dolphin swim once. I know they’re generally docile, but one of them sideswiped me with its tail in passing and I was genuinely freaked realizing how absolutely STRONG they are. And they were relatively small, ocean-beasty-wise. I have no business in that medium.
1. Swimming Side By Side With A (Very Large) Shadow
I was snorkeling in the Caribbean and I got separated from the rest of the group. We had been sticking close to the shore to look at the small fish and things. Touristy stuff. I stayed behind to look at a small school of fish and when I looked up they were all way ahead of me.
To catch up, I took a shortcut across deep water. I was swimming along for a while, not seeing any fish or anything when I just saw a murky outline in the distance. You know, when you’re looking at something underwater from a distance and it’s just a shape? Like that. But it was huge. Easily bigger than me. Just slowly swimming parallel with me.
I didn’t take the time to investigate it closer and just swam to shore as fast as I could. Still gives me chills when I think about it.