Hey, you know that Cthluhu dude? That guy’s meant to make the ocean super scary, especially for white people. There could be anything down there in the ocean, like an existential threat to all of humanity that’s just waiting for a byproduct of human activity to render all life on earth permanently unsustainable, in the name of the worship of something profane and unnatural!
Lovecraft was a cop!
Thing is, he was scared of the ocean and didn’t have a clue what was actually in the ocean. Want to know why? Because if he did know about it, he’d have written about the much scarier things that are really there!
Here are five reasons the ocean is fucking terrifying!
Content warnings: Body horror, deep water, real big things! No pictures, because there’s a lot of AAAAA here.
1. You Don’t Know How Big A Walrus Is
It’s just a thing about how our brains work that we orient ourselves around a perception of scale rather than actual scale. What this means is that when something is about big enough for you to put it in your hands, your brain is decent at estimating and tracking its size, but when it comes to things that you do not see very often and which you do not see up close, you just tend to short the hell out when it comes time to see how big it is.
As an example, think about how big a cow is. Now, without looking it up, is a Walrus bigger or smaller than that? Bear in mind that a Walrus is a territorial creature that form in large groups on the coastline, and it might be super pressing to make sure you don’t mess this one up and know how big they are. Okay. Got your answer?
If you thought ‘a walrus is about as big as a cow’ or ‘a walrus is a bit bigger than a cow’ you’re off by a lot. Walruses are about twice as long as cows. Walruses are enormous and your roly poly meat brain inside your head doesn’t know how to handle that so it just goes ‘uhh well, maybe-‘
oh and bonus, that cow you envisioned is probably smaller than an actual cow is.
2. Goblin Sharks
This is just a small detail, but one of the things we have as bone-having adults on a airy surface of the world, is support from our skeletons which means when we see other animals we kinda just assume they have them too. Even insects, which don’t have them still give us the illusion of it by having their structural support on the outside, thanks to their exoskeletons.
When you encounter an animal that doesn’t really have a skeleton but still looks like something that should have it, the unsettling result is the godless monster known as a goblin shark, which can basically yank its jaw out of its spot and throw it at you. You know the way you thought venus fly traps worked back when you were a little kid? They actually work like that, and they’re fucking sharks.
3. The Bottom Is Like A Graveyard
Okay, so the ocean bottom is deep. And the further down you go, the more you get to stuff that looks more like the surface of the moon than under the water near your local beach. When you get deep and dark, there’s not even a lot of microbial life munching away on things. Corpses that fall down to the bottom of the ocean, if they’re not snatched up by something on the way down, they’re often just laying there in the sand.
Corpses lay there for months as eventually things like deep sea isopods find them and slowly turn them from meaty corpses into skeletons. and then the skeletons just… stay there. If a tree falls in the ocean and sinks, nobody down there knows how to eat it! So it just… stays there, because the combination of cold and pressure keeps it from rotting much!
4. There’s Force Fem Crab Parasites
Okay, so there’s this thing? Called a sacculina. Don’t google it right now, just trust me, you don’t want diagrams. They’re a family of ‘parasitic castrators’ which latch onto a crab of an appropriate type, wedge their way into the body, connect their bloodstreams to the crab’s, then hijacks the crab’s entire life cycle to make that crab find another crab with the same parasite of the opposite sex. The parasites mate, then make the crab take care of the infant. If the crab doesn’t have the correct sex organs for what the parasites want in their hijacking, they use fake crab hormones to transform the crab.
In several crab populations, this parasite can have an infection rate of 50%. That is, about half the crabs are being puppeteered by crab hoo-hah parasites.
Remember, don’t google these.
There’s uh, there’s a bug? Like you know a pillbug, that kinda bug? They’re called isopods. They’re not quite millipedey, but similar.
Now imagine one the size of your fist in your mouth.
Oh, you don’t have room for that?
Well, what if it made room for it by killing your tongue, so it shrunk down and flaccidly hung in your mouth, deprived of blood that you were now pumping into the isopod that sat in your mouth like it was a carnival stand, and every time you opened wide it waved its little feelers as if to say step right up!
The isopods have eyes.
These are widespread parasites in the waters of the Atlantic. They infest fish only (seriously), going in through the gills, replacing the tongue and then consuming food the host bothers to hunt. And, I can’t stress this enough, they have eyes.
There are fish, who when they open their mouths, you can see their tongues.
And their tongues have eyes.
And they look at you.
All of these things I’ve mentioned are meaninglessly harmless to you and your life. But they are good and spooky, and recognising the interesting variety of the world while also grappling with the ways it makes us feel unsettled is one of the ways horror tells us about ourselves.
tongues got eyes