Sailors Divulge The Strangest Things They've Ever Seen At Sea

Sailors Divulge The Strangest Things They've Ever Seen At Sea
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

The vastness of the ocean remains an elusive wonder that continues to inspire exploration.

What we see on the surface is, as they say, the tip of the iceberg.

The one time I was certified and immediately went scuba diving in Cozumel, I was blown away by everything I saw while underwater.

All the National Geographic specials and documentaries about the depths of the ocean and its secrets could not have prepared me for what I witnessed firsthand.

I was captivated by all of the innocuous aquatic life that were alien to this nascent diver. I must admit, however, how much the silence creeped me out.

But those who have spent significant hours at sea probably have a whale of a tale – or two – to tell about rare sights and encounters they've witnessed and would chuckle at my amateur observations.

GeneralJagers visited askReddit and encouraged sailors to share their anecdotes by asking:

"Sailors of Reddit, what is one of the strangest things you've seen at sea?"

Floating Boulders

"The first time you see a large sea turtle is kinda strange they look like floating boulders."

"But the sea for as strange as it is is an amazing place as well seeing a flying fish or looking in the water and seeing fish as far as you can see is incredible."

"I saw this quote on one of these once: 'The sea gives and takes in equal measure.'"


"Blase About Dolphins"

"My absolute favourite thing to see on a four month trip in the Gulf and Indian Ocean was flying fish and a huuuuuuuuuuge Leatherback sea turtle I spotted sunning on the surface one evening."

"Get rather blase about dolphins, don't you? They're not at all a rare sight, especially out that way. Even UK coastal, I can guarantee to see dolphins and porpoises at least a couple times a day."


Curious White Shark

"I worked on a cage-diving boat off South Africa. I saw plenty of incredible things, but one day we had a 5+ meter female white shark come up next to the boat. She was completely uninterested in the cage, the chum, or the baitlines, but just kept hanging around, checking us out. The size of her was just incredible; every time she came back to the surface, my brain would refuse to process what I was seeing for a second. Like 'What IS that? Jesus, it's huge.' She was so calm and curious. For me, it was the first time that I had a clear understanding that there's some kind of intelligence going on in that brain, even if it's completely alien."


Sphere Of Stars

"I used to be in the Navy, and out in the middle of the ocean at night can be calming and odd at the same time."

"One night, I recall the sea was incredibly flat and calm, even out 1,000 miles from shore. The sky was clear and you could see every star in the sky. The really neat, creepy, and vertigo inducing thing was the stars reflected in the water and it looked like I was standing inside of a sphere of stars."

"It really was incredible but it actually made me a bit dizzy because of the rocking of the ship and the feeling of not really knowing which way was up."



"A dolphin swimming with a sponge in his mouth."

"The crew member I was with asked if I knew why the dolphin has a sponge in his mouth. I didn't know, of course. He said because dolphins have no hands."


"So Derpy"

"I was out sailing alone and a couple of huge ocean sunfish came up next to my boat. They are so derpy, but the size of those things up close is pretty shocking."


They're Magical And Some Are Dumba**es

"I've always sailed around Europe, so the first time I came into waters where flying fish are a thing was a trip. I thought I'd seen flying fish before but it turns out those were just jumping fish. Flying fish really do skim over the water really long distances! They're magical."

"And overnight some of the dumba**es end up on your deck and then die there. That's kinda sad."


Floating Sanctuary

"Was out boating one day and a harbour seal flops up onto my boat (which was moving at the time, albeit not particularly fast) and displays absolutely no interest in getting off. At first I thought he just didn't want to jump off a moving boat, so I slowed right down, but he still stayed put. Then I thought he was disoriented or something and I got down towards the stern to shoo him away."

"It was then that I noticed that I was being tailed by a pod of orcas, which was presumably the reason why my new guest had made himself at home on my boat. They encircled the boat and stayed there for ~30 minutes, which was both amazing (closest I'd ever been to an orca by far, nevermind a whole pod of them) and somewhat terrifying (the boat I was on was a 20 footer, so reasonably sized, but not so large that I liked my chances of not capsizing if the orcas decided they 'really' wanted their dinner)."

"They eventually lost interest and moved on; the seal hopped off and swam away in the other direction a few minutes later."


Well, I Otter...

"Left my sailboat anchored off the coast of Saturna island. Go visit friends, spend the night on land. Next day, on my way back, as I'm rowing and getting closer to my boat, I can swear there is a sound coming from my boat. Some sort of small commotion is happening. As I go up my ladder, in ninja mode, I'm trying to figure out wtf...I see 2 otters, laying in a bed of fish carcasses , f'king...on my deck. They haven't noticed me yet and so I do the polite thing and cough a bit. That was not the best idea as they freaked out when they saw me, starting panicking and insuring that the fish guts would get absolutely everywhere in my navigation tools and seats. There was no real damage but I'll never forget the sound of otters f'king."


Green Phenomenon

"I wouldnt say strange, more just amazing and pretty rare. I saw the green flash one morning while on watch somewhere in the Mediterranean sea. Sea was smooth as glass, sky was gorgeous. I was on the bridge wing drinking my coffee and having a smoke just before sunrise and I happened to be looking at the right spot at the right time as the sun crested the horizon. The smallest brightest flash of green and then the sun started climbing."


Coolest And Most Surreal

"Algae blooms. North Red Sea in 2003. Pitch black night (no moon or cloud cover), except for a billion points of starlight reflecting in the ocean's obsidian. The sea was calm, no whitecaps or even any swells really. I was a Quartermaster in the US Navy and was standing the mid watch (0000-0400 and a Quartermaster or QM is a specialist in nautical navigation for those who aren't well versed in the Navy)."

"So we're transiting the Red Sea headed south toward the Bab-Al Mendeb straight, I'm on the bridge wing shooting stars, and all of a sudden the ocean starts exploding with bright green algae. Starts off in a ball the size of a basketball or volleyball, and very quickly blossomed out hundreds of feet on any direction. Our ship was 505' (154m) long and these blooms were easily encompassing the ship. Bright a** green circles of algae, glowing like you dropped a neon green highlighter under a black light. It happened towards the start of my watch and went on for at least two hours. All around us. Photo-plankton reacts to itself (maybe as a defense mechanism?) and it wasn't just in our wake, or in our immediate vicinity. It was for a couple hundred yards in any direction. To this day it was easily the coolest and most surreal things I've seen on the ocean."

"Other things include millions of dragonflies (Northern Arabian Gulf), a rescue at sea (Virginia coast known in the Navy as the VACAPES), giant manta rays breaching that I almost ran over in the Captian's Gig (Cuba), huge sea turtles at the surface (various places), clearest water I've ever seen (like 100' crystal clear vis, Souda Bay, Crete), and I'm sure a whole host of things I've forgotten. I miss the ocean."


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