Sailors Share Unexplainable Things They've Seen At Sea

Sailors Share Unexplainable Things They've Seen At Sea

The surface of our planet is 71% covered by oceans that account for 97% of the water in the world, yet a vast majority of them remain a mystery. It’s easy to let your mind wander as to what else might be beneath the seas.

Underwater mysteries are not new but can be absolutely enthralling. Beneath the ocean, there are many things we can’t even begin to imagine.

For your viewing pleasure, we compiled a list of personal accounts from some of the most shocking and amazing occurrences to ever take place on the water.


55. That's No Good For Morale

I was manning a .50 cal on my first cruise in the Persian Gulf. I stood one four-hour watch every day, and it was pretty monotonous. We saw plenty of Gulf wildlife - bright purple jellyfish, sea snakes, etc, but one day I saw a bloated cow carcass just floating in the water. We're a hundred miles from shore so it probably didn't float out, but the possibility existed.

Until we saw the second one. Then the third. Then the fourth. And the fifth. At about 1000' intervals, there were bloated cow carcasses forming a perfectly straight line that we followed for a pretty good while because we were also going that direction... had to have been two, three dozen of them. There were some goats and dogs in there too.

Maybe not supernatural or anything, but it was pretty freaking weird. Never seen anything like that before or since.

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54. Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

Sailing off the coast of Florida in a Submarine at periscope depth, we see a small fishing boat go by. The fishing boat slows down and on the emergency frequency channel we hear in a VERY southern twang "is that a submarine? That must be a dang submarine!"

The man immediately strips completely naked and then displays his rear for all of us to see on the periscope. He slaps his butt a few times and then carries on with his day.

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53. Passed The Test

Those moments when you dip into a swell that you can't see anything outside of... The only one time that happened to me I was 17 taking a trip to a nearby island Bigej (Marshall Islands) we were approaching the island but first we had to pass though the Bigej Channel. In a 22 foot Boston Whaler we were completely in the dip before I had to push it out of each wave. To be short I was terrified because this particular channel was well known to have tons of sharks always waiting so I just took it nice and slow and eventually got across. But I clearly remember the few seconds in each wave looking at just how beautiful this death trap was... Really earned my boating license that day

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52. A Shadow Under The Waves

We were about 250 miles into the Gulf of Mexico on my dad's boat (44 feet). We'd been out there a couple of weeks.

It was about two in the morning, and the ocean was eerily glassy - nary a wave to be seen. When you're that far out, and it's that dark, and the seas are calm, it can be tough to tell when the sky stops and the horizon begins.

The boat was equipped with a light beneath the diving board on the rear (aft) that illuminated maybe a twenty-foot radius beneath and around the boat.

I saw a black shadow beneath me; a silhouette of something large enough to dwarf the boat I stood on. Maybe it was the drinks I'd had, but I don't recall feeling afraid - just curious. I stared at it while it shifted beneath the light for a solid few minutes. I sorta wished it would surface, but I guess part of me was glad that it didn't.

It's not much, and it really could've been anything from a whale to a submarine, but it was still the strangest thing I can remember seeing.

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51. Nothing Can Move That Fast

We were sailing south on Lake Michigan with iron ore bound for Burns Harbor. It was around 2 in the morning. A blip on the radar and another and on and on and then something flew right past us without any lights or sound. Whatever this object was, we calculated its velocity. We confirmed it was moving just below 2,500 mph.

This was a freaky moment because we couldn't think of anything that could move that fast on or just above the water. But that's what the instruments said.

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50. The Government Doesn't Know Or Won't Say

While standing a lookout watch at night on a patrol somewhere in the middle of the Bering Sea, I saw a light appear on the horizon. The light rose until I could tell through the binoculars that it was clearly a circle of light -- a glowing orb of some sort. It rose quickly and steadily and hung in the air, motionless from my perspective, for a short period of time, but long enough for me to report the sighting and for folks on the bridge to puzzle over it. Then a few minutes later, it dropped quickly and was gone for good.

So, two things we knew: 1) It was over the water. The nearest land in that direction was so far that the thing would have had to have been the size of Connecticut if it had shot up from the land. 2) The United States government didn't have a clue what it was (or, had no interest in telling us).

It was weird. I do not believe it was extraterrestrial or the result of anything supernatural. But it was weird.

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49. Something Terrible Happened Here

My family and I were out sailing in Croatia in a rental boat. There had been some pretty bad weather the week before our arrival, but we had fortunately avoided the storms.

However, one fateful day when we were casually cruising along the coast, we started noticing things in the water. We decided to check it out and found large chunks of debris floating around, including a cabin door with a small orange life-west resting on top of it. We were shocked and stuck around the scene for about 30 minutes, listening for sounds and checking out the things we could fish up.

After concluding that it looked like it had been in the water for quite some time (we determined at least a month or two) - and after trying to call it over our radio, which turned out to not work (thanks, rental boats!) - we decided to keep moving. But we couldn't quite shake off the feeling of dread after seeing that.

The little orange life vest still haunts me. I'm not entirely sure what else we could have done since we had no way of communication with land and we were hours away from the nearest port. We have no idea what it was, what happened or - well - anything else.

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48. Traffic At Sea

When I was 11, I went on a night fishing trip with my friends' parents. As we got about a half mile past the skyway bridge out of St.Pete, they noticed one of those big blue plastic 55 gallon barrels bobbing in the water by a channel marker. So we pull up to it and the adults lugged it into the boat to open. I remember all of the adults gasping and giggling when they opened it, immediately followed by my friend's mom ushering us to the bow of the boat to sit down and only face forward no matter what. Well, of course the little 11 year old curious me eventually turned around to try to catch a glimpse of whatever cool adult stuff was in that barrel. Well, I turned around to see what looked like a bunch of plastic vacuum-sealed bags of some sort of green substance. It wasn't until years later that I realized what I had witnessed.

anthony-delanoix-22905-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash


47. Poseidon's Revenge

We were sailing with my friend in his small yacht/boat (like 10 meters long). Night fishing he called it, apparently some sorts of fish can be caught with higher probability at night. So obviously we just let the fishing equipment do its job and we're drinking heavily. By 3 am he was sleeping on the deck.

I needed to take a pee, so I got closer to one of the sides of the boat and take a glorious leak: beautiful sea, calm weather, small waves making this calm water splashy sound when touching the sides of the boat.

Suddenly, I see a huge wave coming towards us. I stare at it for a couple of seconds, because I've been drinking and this might be my eyes playing tricks on me. Nope. A huge wave, maybe around 15-20 meters tall. Our boat was tiny compared to it. It was very wide, there was no chance I could navigate the boat and avoid it. I realize nothing can be done and brace myself and scream at my friend to wake up and hold on to something. Although that wouldn't have helped. The wave was so much taller than our boat.

My friend shows no signs of waking up, so I shake him violently because he is the one who can drive a boat. Nope, just lies there like a brick.

All this happened in about 10-15 seconds, although they felt like hours to me. The huge wave is approaching rapidly, it's probably about 10 boat lengths from us, so I brace myself and push my friend down the stairs into one of the luggage/equipment compartments of the boat so that he doesn't get thrown out at the impact.

Probably 5 seconds left to the impact, I'm panicking and holding on to a rail with so much strength, if it was someone's arm I would have crushed it. And... nothing. Around 30 meters away from us the wave sort of collapses. It looks like it just went back to the sea. Flat sea, nothing. And me, crapping my pants violently.

I am still not sure what happened, and my friend didn't believe me when I told him in the morning. He slept like a baby, and I was sitting there all night with my eyes wide open swearing not to pee into the sea anymore because that felt like Poseidon being angry at me.

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46. Shock Waves And Real Waves

Not sure if this qualifies, but in school when I was 14 I was sailing on Coniston Lake in a two-man sailboat. I was driving, and it was extremely choppy. We were going way too fast and I knew it was only a matter of time until we sank. The waves were terrifying, and I am not a fan of the water. In fact, I refuse to go in a boat in an ocean outright.

I was keeping it together for a while, but then I heard what sounded like an explosion, and a shock wave hit our boat, which turned the sail quickly, hitting me on the head. Time felt like it was slowing at this point, and my mate jumped straight off. As I regained my senses, I noticed that the boat was tipping a lot. It was about to capsize.

I tried my best to turn it back the other way to level it out, but it tipped so much the sail touched the water and scooped it in, flinging me into the air - luckily away from the boat because if I was under it I probably would have been killed. I surfaced and we held onto the edge of the capsized boat until help came about 20 minutes later. The wind was so strong however that the rescue boat almost sank as well and we had to shovel water out of it as we went with paper coffee cups.

Later I found out that a jet plane was doing maneuvers in the valley and due to the poor visibility he went too low towards the lake and accelerated to pull away upwards, causing him to break the sound barrier at low altitude, which was what the explosion sound was.

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45. You've Been Boarded

A coconut dressed like a pirate. I found it in 2008 off the Baja coast. There were 2-3 knot winds -- barely enough to fill the sails. I watched as a floating coconut dressed like a pirate passed us at about 3 knots against the wind... We jumped in our dingy and caught up to it. It's now sitting in my uncle's storage, forever a mystery. Who dressed a coconut up like a pirate? Why and when? And how in the world was it going so fast?

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44. They Were On Their Way To The Wine Mixer

I took my boat out with my buddy. We headed out to Catalina Island. At about 6:30 in the morning 15 miles offshore or so we see a giant green flash come down from the sky in front of us. It was pretty big and bright in the sky and lasted for about 2 seconds and then it was gone. There's a military base on a different island further out but it didn't look military. We've never seen anything like it before or since.

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43. You Might Have Caught A Pirate

I was on a deployment, standing port aft watch late at night. We were out patrolling near Somalia, and of course, everything was pitch black and even after you got used to the darkness, it was still really dark.

There was this access hatch thing that normally is bolted down against the bulkhead. It gave access to steam pipes or something, No idea.

That night I was sitting on the capstan drinking a Rip-It (ship store ran out of Red Bull a long time back) and I noticed that the hatch was off, and the hole just revealed inky blackness.

I thought whatever and continued sitting and sipping, then something caught the corner of my eye in the hatch's direction.

I dismissed it as a shadow, maybe a boatswains mate was walking the flight deck checking for people sleeping on watch or something.

I got up and started pacing around to give the impression I wasn't slacking and whatnot. Heard a tap and spun around, and saw a shadow duck into the opened area of that hatch. It looked like a person's head ducking back into the area.

Now the hatch was probably only a little bit bigger than what you could stick your head and shoulders into. Naturally, I thought someone was messing with me and trying to scare me, or something. So I wandered over there, brought out a tiny led flashlight and took a peek in there.

Nothing but haze grey painted stuff and some kind of plumbing.

I brushed it off as lack of sleep and just my eyes tricking me, but that hatch area stayed open the rest of the cruise and I was always wary of it in the back of my mind when standing that watch.

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42. Who Flipped The Switch?

Tugboater in Southwestern Canada here.

We towed an upside-down barge after it accidentally flipped (40' from me while hooked up to our towline... neat!). It was a box-style barge so understandably it was slow towin'.

The captain told me to have fresh batteries in the navigation lights for the barge and I complied. The first night both forward-facing lights were on but in the morning one was out. They're light-sensitive so I assumed the morning light turned it off and I didn't report it.

That night the captain called me to the bridge and asked me to look back at the barge's nav. lights. I couldn't see any. I looked at the radar and saw the barge.

He was very upset with me and told me to get another set of lights ready. With full batteries this time!!

It was awkward to board the barge since it wasn't designed to be boarded upside-down. There are ladders built in to the side but they don't descend to the hull. I had to climb down a big tire from the upper deck.

When I swapped out the lights and while getting back aboard I dropped a light on the tug's deck. Got flak from the captain so I turned it on to show it wasn't broken and it lit up and I was relieved.

But it wasn't turned off so how was I able to switch it from the off position? I checked the other two and they both turned on.

That's when the chill hit my spine.

I had seen them shining brightly on the first night. They were all switched to the off position when I gathered them from the barge.

I am convinced no human did it. My crew wouldn't tow an un-lit barge into the night so they weren't messing with me by turning them off in my sleep. A prankster probably couldn't access them, plus that never happens. Even to easily-accessible lights on other tows.

I try to convince myself it was seagulls (which ride our barges by the flock) that flipped the switches because the switch is a rubber-encased nub that could look like a worm. But all of them being switched? None being switched back? They'd probably topple the light while tugging at it because it's not a lightly-flipped switch.

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41. Dolphins Leaving Bioluminescent Trails

We were sailing on a 134' double-masted steel brigantine through an area of high biological productivity in the North Atlantic one night. My shipmate was on bow watch; I was on the quarter-deck assisting the mate with whatever needed to be done. I suddenly heard my shipmate yelling my name and saying I needed to come up to the bow as quickly as I could. When I got up there, I saw seven or eight bottlenose dolphins swimming through the bioluminescent water right under the bow of our boat. Every inch of them glowed green. It was like something out of a dream. They looked like glow in the dark torpedoes. When we looked out across the horizon, we saw green spots everywhere. There must have been close to 30 dolphins swimming around. We got almost the entire crew out of bed to come to watch. That's definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life.


40. A Ritual That Actually Summoned Fish

My buddy that grew up in Hawaii has a ton of crazy tales of the sea. He told me one about this old man that survived from bringing in fish from the sea. My friend went out on the boat with him and he watched the old man do some sort of ritual of hitting the boat and the water. He said he saw bubbles starting to rise to the surface and an old barracuda came up, along with many smaller fish. The man collected the smaller fish, thanked the barracuda, and it returned to the depths. He did this every day and sold the fish as a way of living.


39. Nature Is Happy To Show Off

I was out on Lake Michigan early on in the summer. It was a really warm day but the water was really cold still. Much like a hot day on Tarmac this created mirages. The only difference was that the mirages were inverted since the air was much warmer than the water. So if you looked at a boat in the distance or the Chicago skyline across the lake you would see a mirror image of the object in the air above the actual object. It also made the sand dunes in the distance look like a sheer cliff that was painted in watercolor. It was really trippy.


38. Their Eyes Weren't Playing Tricks On Them

I was sailing in the Caribbean for five weeks a few years ago when I was 16, somewhere between Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. It was nighttime, and I was on watch with a fellow kid and our head instructor.

We're sailing along, looking at the stars and talking about stuff, when all of a sudden a very bright light appears in the sky. In the blink of an eye, it had lit up everything we could see for miles around as though there had been a full moon (there was no moon).

We couldn't discern anything about the shape of the source of light; it was just a bright dot flying across the sky. Our best guesses were that it was a satellite or meteor, but I've never known either of those things to be that bright. I also saw it again one or two nights later, but neither of those people was on watch with me.


37. What He Found At Sea Changed His Life

I worked at a boat rental rock during my late teens. I was sailing around my local harbor for a quick little lap after work. I got out to the middle of the bay and saw something struggling in the water. I sail closer and take a pass—it was a puppy. I tack back to do another pass and I get close enough to grab it by the scruff of its neck. I took it home; it was the best dog my parents have ever had.


36. You, Too, Can Find A Message In A Bottle

I was maybe eight or nine. We were boating around the San Juan Islands and my sister saw something glinting in the ocean. My dad pulled the boat up next to it, and pulled a freaking letter in a bottle out of the water. It said basically to go to these coordinates (on a nearby island) and get his "treasure". We went there and found an empty chest under a log.


35. Eerie Darkness And Complete Quiet Showing No Signs Of Life

Navy sailor here. Two deployments to the gulf. My ship found two "ghost ships"—one was drifting with no power in the Indian Ocean. No response on bridge-to-bridge and no visible signs of life or electricity. The other was stuck on an outcrop of rocks off the coast of Oman. Completely abandoned. Wound up using it as target practice for an F-18 to clear a structural hazard to the waterway.


34. A Manatees In Disguise

I was canoeing on the coast of Florida and my wife said, "Let's paddle up to that log." We did. Right before we reached it the log snorted heavily and swam away. It freaked me out. My wife laughed because she knew it was a manatee and knew what would happen. She grew up in Florida.



33. He Wasn't Trying To Surprise You...

I almost hit a sea turtle the size of a mattress off the coast of Washington. It suddenly appeared and I threw the engine in reverse and swerved hard to port throwing passengers off their seats. I looked out the starboard window as I went by and saw two eyes staring at me on a head the size of a basketball.


32. Hey, Penguins Need Vacations Too

I saw a penguin swimming around in the Gulf of Mexico. A friend invited me fishing offshore when I went to visit him. While out there, he pointed out the funny black and white bird in the distance that that would occasionally dive down. He proclaimed it a penguin. I calmly explained there is zero, zilch, NO way that was a penguin. I explained currents, geography, water temperature, etc. We floated closer to it. It was a penguin. We snapped a few pics of it. Back at home, a trip to Wikipedia told us it was "Spheniscus demersus". Go figure.


31. Sea Creatures Falling From The Sky

I was on a yacht delivery leg across the Gulf of Mexico heading from the Dry Tortugas to Key West when there was a series of wap, wap, wappapa wap noises above us. We looked up in time to see a bunch of flying fish hitting the sail, just as the first of them started falling and flopping all over the deck.


30. The Water Has A Mood That's Quieter Than Quiet

The most amazing is the non-sound of wind. When you're on shore wind rustles through the trees, moves wind chimes, makes birds chirp...etc. Way off shore, none of those sounds exist. It's very eerie to feel the wind but have it make no noise. Just a force that moves across your skin and then gently leaves without a sound.


29. A Whale's Hole In One

I was walking along the beach with my girlfriend, when all of the sudden I hear someone scream "Is anyone here a marine biologist?!" Being a marine biologist myself, I ran over to the commotion. What I saw was a beached whale, with a golf ball stuck in its blowhole. I removed the golf ball and me and the beach-goers pushed the whale back into the ocean. The sea was angry that day, my friends.


28. A Sweet Visitor Isn't Afraid To Say Hello

This isn’t too amazing but it was really cool at the time for me. While in Cape Cod, right off the shore of Nauset beach near East Orleans, about seven years ago, I was on the family boat, a 24-foot Grady white. We were sitting there looking at the seals in the water feeding on some sort of bait fish when we saw one of them split off the pack. Now, keep in mind that we were almost 100 yards away, so we were surprised to see that this seal was headed in our direction; he must have been very interested. It didn’t take more than 30 seconds for this guy to come right up to the side of the boat we were on, and, I kid you not, it just treaded water and looked at us for about five minutes. We were all taking pictures and “talking” to this kind visitor as most people would do, all while he calmly watched us. After we had put down our cameras and sat back down, still watching our new friend, he swam off and went back to his seal buddies to continue feeding. It was truly an amazing experience for me.


27. Culprit Of Passenger Trauma

When I was a kid we used to get the hovercraft across the English Channel, which I hated, even more so after the particular day of the force-nine gales. I remember waiting to board but being told that it was too rough for the crossing. Then eventually they said they'd do it, and we all got on. But instead of just being the usual 25 minutes, it took much longer because the hovercraft had to go along the English coast first to try and find a safe passage across the channel. I remember quite vividly the usually beautiful white cliffs of Dover careening up and down past the spray-covered porthole windows, feeling very very ill.


26. The Ocean's Misleading Aura Of Comfort

I got to swim in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I'm a very good swimmer and have never had any fears of the water ever. As soon as I jumped in (the water is very clear when you're away from the shore line) I couldn't help but notice how deep and big the ocean is. It was a very unsettling feeling so I got out immediately. I would never do that again.


25. Surrounding Sounds In The Deep

It's not about what I saw but about what I heard. I was on a 688i second flight class boat for part of my career in the US Navy. We were heading from Hawaii to Japan deep and fast and you tend not to see a whole lot on sonar because of flow noise unless it's close.

SAWS (Situational awareness systems) reported a transient sound and said it was weird but there was no trace on the screen so it wasn't a distant source. It was all around us. I switched my station over to broadband so I could see and hear what SAWs was and started listening. Sure enough, I hear it too. It was a sound like crystal bells ringing with no defined source except I had more sensors at my disposal because I could flip through any configuration. The sounds, whatever they were, were deeper than we were and were all around us by the end of it.

I still don't know what it was but we always called them the deep ones in reference to Cthulhu. It was the type of thing that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up to listen to, though. I was in one of the deadliest hunter-killers, powered by a nuclear reactor, and that kind of sound made you imagine something much bigger out in the depths.


24. Sea Creatures Can’t Hide When They're Being Hunted

I used to work on an educational tall ship in California. One time we were lucky enough to encounter a pod of orcas. As we followed them they picked up speed and we realized they were after a huge pod of common dolphins. They split, flank the dolphins and all of a sudden we see a dolphin get knocked into the air, followed by a lot of red water.


23. Too Close For Comfort

I was pleasure sailing with a lady off the coast of Australia. A great white burst out of the ocean with a seal in its mouth and fell within six feet of our vessel. We had both been snorkeling earlier that day.


22. Hungry Dolphin Shatters Peaceful Stereotypes

I was pulling in a massive squid on the surface, letting it de-ink, when a huge black shape came out of the water and took it. I initially thought it was a shark as it was brutal, but it was a "nice, gentle" dolphin. If I ever hear another person tell me dolphins are beautiful, or gentle... I'll point out my great-white type experience with a dolphin.


21. Modern Pirates And Their Shady Behavior

I was sailing with a couple of buddies and we came across this powerboat seemingly stranded. When we went up to it, a ton of people came out on deck with iPhones videoing us and demanding we give them a lift to shore. They were super shady-looking guys and we did not let them on. As we started sailing away, they were shouting and one guy lifted his shirt and showed us his weapon. We took off.


20. Live Animals Aren't Meant For Jousting

I own a jet ski, so I like to consider myself a slight sailor. I was speeding up and down the middle of the lake next to my house, when I hit something underwater and it causes the jet ski to come of off the water a few inches. I come to a stop and turn around to, low and behold, a gator floating upside down in the water next to me. I didn't stick around to find out if it was conscious, because gator, but I like to think I jousted an alligator that day.


19. A Small Boat Won't Work As A Submarine

I was sailing my Splash Dinghy (11 feet) on the sea for the first time at a regatta in Weymouth (UK) back in 2012. The winds/waves were Force Six. So I was running downwind when all of a sudden the bow of my boat plunged into the water, lifting the entire rear end up out of the water. I managed to recover her and continue off but I'll never forget the site of all that water rushing over and past the deck and mast. I felt as if my dinghy suddenly became a submarine.


18. Sea Creatures Bring Children’s Books To Life

While serving in the US Navy, in the early 90s, we were in the Adriatic. One morning at about dawn, I saw through my lookout glasses what looked like a pole sticking straight out of the water. We were in the middle of the sea, so I didn't know what to make of seeing that out there in the mirror-like seas. As the ship approached it, I reported seeing a pole sticking out of the water. As we passed it by, I could see what it was. It was a sunfish, and having never seen one before because my home is as inland as you could get, I was super thrilled because it looked exactly how my illustrated children's books on sea life described it. The ten-year-old in me rejoiced for having seen one.


17. A High-Powered Nightlight On The Horizon

While on a crossing from the Bahamas to Charleston, South Carolina, I was on watch in the middle of the night and saw a strange bright orange light rising up from the horizon until it flickered out. I couldn't figure out what it was, but when we got to shore I saw in the newspaper there was a rocket launch in Florida.


16. Perfect Night To See A Synchronistic Phenomenon

I was on an overnight fishing trip and the sky was absolutely clear. I could see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and a sliver of the moon all lined up. The sea was still and black... I almost felt like I was in space. I could also see the angle of the ecliptic with the planets lined up on it, making it easy to picture the layout of the solar system compared to where I was on Earth.


15. Ice Three Stories Tall

I was on a boat in Alaska and we were right near a glacier. On our way away from the glacier, we saw a small piece of ice fall off an iceberg. About two minutes later, right in the spot where the boat had been a minute before, a massive piece of ice shot out of the water. It had to be three stories tall and at least 15 yards wide, and it shot 30 feet into the air and settled down to a height of about 10 feet above the surface of the water. I have no idea how that could have happened.


14. Leap Frog? No, Leap Spotted Eagle-Ray

My parents were out fishing off the coast of Florida when a massive spotted eagle-ray with a six-foot fin/wingspan leapt out of the ocean, flew right over the boat and their heads, close enough to touch, then splashed into the water on the other side.


13. These Eagles Have Swift Reflexes

I was a beautiful day off the coast of Juneau Alaska and we were hobby fishing for salmon when we caught a small fish. We noticed a large bald eagle soaring overhead and decided to try and throw the fish to the eagle to give him an easy lunch. My father-in-law threw the fish up in the air and the eagle swooped down, grabbing it out of the air before it hit the water. I was pretty stunned the eagle was so ready to catch a fish like that but it seems his reflexes were pretty eagle-like.


12. A Ghost In The Hall During Night Watch

I'm training on big ships right now, and on the training vessel I have to stand night watches. Down in the ships, steering gear at two to four a.m. is not fun when you're in an isolated room. Sometimes it sounds like a girl is talking down the hall, but you know no one's in there because there's only one entrance. It's the scariest thing.


11. Never Underestimate The Power Of The Sea

For me, the memory that sticks most was when I first realized just how powerful the sea is.

I was working on a boat in Japan, on my way back into port after a four-week swing. I just sat in my cabin one evening watching a film on my laptop when every now and again I noticed a bright flash from behind me. I turned around just in time to glance out of my porthole as a bolt of lightning lit up the sea. I saw an enormous wave just about to break over the side of the boat, which started getting tossed around like a toy (the boat is about 120 meters length overall). Certainly gave me the shivers anyway...


10. Vampire Bat

I was on a 52 ft boat 20 miles off the coast of South Carolina at about 3 am cruising at 25 knots when I was hit in the chest by something large and alive. It knocked me clear of the helm and was stuck to my shirt. I was on the deck rolling around trying to get it off me in the dark. I got up, took my shirt off and stomped it until it stopped moving.

I went down to the cabin to grab my flashlight and gun. When I got back to the helm I finally was able to see what it was.

A huge bat. Its wingspan was two feet and it was still very much alive. It sat there for a minute and then flew off.

I was bleeding and had to get rabies shots when I got home.

james-wainscoat-_f8IZ0gGS6E-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by James Wainscoat on Unsplash

9. Poor Monkey

An acquaintance in high school had sailed around the world with his parents starting when he was in elementary school. Took them 6 or 7 years, so he was in high school when they got back. He had lots of stories of interesting things seen. One I remember was another sailor with a pet monkey. The guy kept a couple chickens for eggs on the boat too. The monkey viewed the chickens as his pets and often held them, stroking them. One chicken stopped laying and the sailor decided to eat it. He took the chicken to his cutting board in the cockpit. The monkey watching this screamed in terror, then scrambled to the top of the sailboat mast. It stayed up there for 3 days until thirst drove it down. After that the monkey would run to the top of the mast if the man ever got his cooking knives out.

jamie-haughton-1120556-unsplash-300x199.jpgPhoto by Jamie Haughton on Unsplash

8. Three For One

I do a lot of offshore fishing in the South Atlantic. Some cool and crazy things I've seen while boating.

I got caught once in the annual migration of spinner sharks. Went right through a school that I would guess would be at least 10,000 or more sharks that just happened to be working on a very large bait school. You could count no less than 10 sharks breaching the surface about ever second. It was one of the scariest experiences yet one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen and there I ended up right in the middle of the madness. I literally had one shark land in the bow of the boat and another break the cowling on the outboard while several others bounced off the sides.

Once I almost hit a body when returning from a trip at the end of the day. It was just turning dusk and I was coming in from about 15 miles offshore after a day of fishing. I was cruising around 25 knots when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something bright yellow just off the port side of the boat and almost made impact with it. I slowed down and turned the boat around in an attempt to find whatever it was I almost hit but was unsuccessful and it was getting late and the sun was almost down so I decided it would be best to just head back in. The next day a body in yellow waders washed up onshore about 25 miles to the North. I can't say for sure if it was the same yellow object I almost hit but I'd be willing to bet it was.

Encountered a great white while surfacing from a dive in about 75' of water which was extremely unusual because great whites shouldn't be anywhere around the area of the Atlantic where I fish. This was confirmed a few days later by multiple other boats that spotted the same shark and eventually made the news.

One time I saw an Otter dragging a leather back sea turtle to shore that it somehow managed to capture.


alex-steyn-1315391-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Alex Steyn on Unsplash

7. Bizarre

I was en route to northern Japan after the terrible tsunami happened for disaster relief (Marines). Anyway, I had stepped outside to a catwalk for a smoke after not seeing the sun for a few days. Turns out that it was extremely foggy and snowing, which I had never thought about. The ship was basically reduced to a crawl, it was all very silent and quite peaceful. After chain smoking for 10-15 minutes I started to hear things hitting the ship. Had trouble seeing at first but once I saw the roof of a house and a crib float by I realized where we were. Ran back to my living area to grab some friends. We all get back out there and silently observe peoples lives floating by us. Not super crazy or bizarre, but it's something I'll never forget. Spent the next week and a half dealing with crazy weather shifts doing my part in the clean up effort.

chris-gallagher-1302832-unsplash-300x200.jpgPhoto by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash

6. A Ghost Tanker

During the night after leaving Djibouti, we noticed that a radar echo, probably a tanker, was behind us and was on a collision course. We changed direction almost unnoticeably, 1° every 5-10 minutes in order to not reveal we were aware of its presence. After one hour the echo radar was still straight behind us and getting closer, it was clear it was following us.

So we let the tanker get closer and closer until it was at 100 meters behind us, then we turned abruptly, and navigated at full speed in the opposing direction. Since a tanker takes hours to do a complete turn we were safe after that, we never saw it again.

Why would this tanker follow us and potentially want to harm us? We had absolutely no idea. We weren't in an area that was particularly known for pirates at that time. Maybe it was a ghost tanker.

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5. Absolutely Amazing

A lot of things. I've seen a dolphin do the most elegant backflip you've ever seen. We caught a blue albatross as it went to dive for our gear. When we pulled the bird in to release it, it was so unbelievably calm, we held its wings open to take a picture. Massive birds those ones.

At the back while working gear, all of a sudden we see this black blade-like looking thing climb its way out of the water. Once it reaches a height of roughly 6 feet, it comes slamming down into the water. It does this maybe 5 or 6 times. Hard to explain how bizarre it is seeing something like this until you've spent days/weeks/months staring off at water and seeing nothing. It was the tail of a thresher shark that was climbing out of the water and trying to concuss the squid-like looking gear.

But honestly, one of the most amazing things is the bait ball. It's caused by weather phenomena actually. What happens is that herring and other feed fish predominantly survive in green, plankton filled water. Their predators hate it for the most part because the plankton clogs gills and so on. But what can happen is if blue and green water mix and due to temperature differences and a large amount of clear blue boils up from below, it can expose massive schools of feed fish. Well once this happens, the entire ocean kicks into gear. Tuna come over, dolphins come, sharks, seagulls and other birds - everybody's getting into it. Below, they create this tightening circle of doom where they travel around the ball, keeping the feed fish from escaping. Fins of all kinds breach the surface. And just when we think we've seen everything, a massive humpback whale crashes the party. It went directly through the center, destroying the ball, scattering the feed and all the predators.

4. When You See An Animal That No Longer Exists

Mum's partner is fisherman.

A couple of things that came to mind:

The incredible amount of Great White shark encounters they have out at sea - obviously attracted by the bait or something. Stories of being circled and harassed by sharks for sometimes up to days, in at least one or two occasions resulting in them having to go back in.

Freak waves. Sadly, the amounts of fisherman deaths by freak waves is too high. Imagine Mother Nature just unleashing a huge wave out of nowhere that obliterates a fishing boat, killing those on board. He's participated in many searches for bodies and those of lost fisherman at sea - including hauling numerous bodies on board and liaising with police in the searches.

My favorite though was something he actually saw on land while out at sea. On an incredibly remote and rugged part of Tasmania's West Coast the crew noticed what appeared to be a dog on the beach. As they got closer they noticed it was sniffing around in some seaweed and walking a bit differently to a dog. As they continued to get closer they also noticed something else - it had what appeared to be the outline of stripes along its back half. Yes, still to this day they believe they saw an "extinct" Tasmanian Tiger (or Thylacine). Regular sightings are still reported in Tasmania and many local fisherman have also reported seeing them in that particular area.

Tasmanian_tiger-300x205.jpgWikimedia Commons AFP/AFP/Getty Images

3. Creepy People-Watcher Doesn't Want To Be Seen

I was three or four days out from Antigua on a row boat. It was three a.m. with very little cloud cover and only a bit of moon. I'm in my own head thinking about food and on deck alone and rowing when I realize something is watching me off port-side, so I turn my head to the right (rowing backwards remember) and whatever was watching me ducks its head under water. Yes, underwater. And yes, a head. Whatever it was had been watching for maybe a minute or so. I only caught a glimpse of what it was and to this day have no idea. It looked like a human sized head, black pupiless eyes, no nose or ears, bleached white and wrinkly skin. Think albino seal. Scared me so much so that I stopped rowing. I've looked everywhere to figure out what it was and the closest I got to it was a goblin shark but... IT HAD A HUMAN SIZED/SHAPED HEAD!


2. All Alone One Minute But Not The Next

I had a friend who worked a small-ish fishing boat in Alaska. One night he was all alone in the cabin, bringing the boat back to port. He looked over and in the dim light, he saw something creating a small wake in the water. The wake got larger, and whatever was making it began to rise out of the water. He thought maybe it was a whale, but then it got too big and he could see: It was a massive submarine surfacing dangerously close to him, his boat must not have shown up on their sensors.


1. The Silver Lining Of Running From A Bear

I was paddling a canoe with some friends on a trip in Quebec (I think it was in the Lac Mistassini area). One evening, a bear showed up fairly close to our campsite, so we decided the best option was to break camp and paddle through the night to our next site, about a 10-hour paddle away. Paddling under the stars was cool enough with aurora borealis and little light pollution, but I'll never forget the bolide (superbolide?) that zoomed across the sky and was bright enough to light up the area like it was daytime. I believe something similar happened in Thailand. It really was a once in a lifetime effect.




That Is Not A Shipwreck

My father worked as a fisherman. While fishing with his friends, he came across what appeared to be an abandoned shipwreck. Before getting closer, my father used his binoculars. In an instant, his face turned pale like a ghost. "Let's get out of here. Right now. That's not an abandoned shipwreck."

The apparent shipwreck is, in fact, an abandoned submarine repurposed as a covert military base.