Unsettling Water Phenomena Caught On Camera

Let's investigate some unsettling water phenomena and ocean mysteries you won't believe are real!

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Water isn’t always scary, it’s literally one of the safest substances you can put in your body! But sometimes, water can act in ways that make you never want to touch a glass of it ever again.

From creepily consuming massive blocks of concrete, or somehow glowing in the dark, to breaking the laws of physics. Let's explore some of the weirdest, strangest, and most dangerous water phenomena in the world!

Ice Shards

When it comes to types of ice, everyone has their favorites! Some sharp shards of ice won’t improve your soda, but they look awesome covering small ponds around the world in strange, geometric patterns.

This type of ice formation only occurs in very specific conditions, because of the way ice forms. Water freezes at 32°F, but in order to become ice, water molecules need to organize themselves around impurities, also known as nuclei, in order to crystallize.

frozen pond fractals reddit

But when there are relatively few nuclei in the water, and no wind to jostle the molecule’s structure, when the temperature drops slowly, huge ice grains can begin to form. As their slowly expanding freezing pattern meets others, the ice grains are shaped into these jagged, geometric formations that look like a geometry teacher’s dream!

While this pattern looks amazing when it’s stationary, seeing a roiling sea of shards is a little more unsettling!

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This is Lake Cildir, a giant lake in Turkey that completely ices over in winter. The pointy surface ice forms when temperatures begin to rise in the spring, and the thick layer of ice on the surface starts to melt and soften.

At this point, some pieces will melt completely, while other, thicker sheets of ice will simply break, snapping apart into multiple shards. The newly melted water will then push the broken shards of ice against each other, causing them to stack on top of each other, and gradually slide their way to the shore.

ice shards formation

The resulting waves of ice shards look pretty incredible, but you might want to wait until they melt before you go for a swim at Lake Cildir.

Scientific Slushie

Slushie’s have been fueling kids, cinema goers, and gas station clerks for years! The biggest Slurpees you can usually get come in 44oz cups, but if you’re a true fan of the ice-cold drink, you should head to Canada; a magical land where entire lakes are filled with Slushie.

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Although a lake-flavored slushie doesn’t sound that tasty, visually, this big drink is definitely big enough to satisfy slurpee-lovers all over the world. The science behind this lake-sized slushy is incredibly simple, and it’s all because this is a salt-water lake.

Salt lowers the freezing point of water, meaning that salt-water can drop to incredibly cold temperatures before freezing solid. Before freezing entirely, the saltwater will partially freeze, with extreme weather conditions churning it up into the slushie-substance.

Eventually, the lake will either completely freeze over, or melt back into water - but for just a moment, the slushie lake becomes a reality! This delicious looking phenomenon is most commonly observed in salt-water lakes, but sometimes, the weather can get so cold that oceans can start to freeze, converting the sea into one giant Slushie machine.

Laminar Flow

Despite how it looks, the running water in the clip below wasn’t frozen in time, and the person who filmed the clip isn’t a sorcerer. This insane illusion is called Laminar Flow, and it occurs thanks to a neat bit of physics.

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Usually, when you turn a faucet on, the water comes out in a turbulent path, meaning that all the water bursting out is moving in slightly different directions. As the fluid flows at different angles, the water particles crash into each other, causing the liquid to become slightly frothy as it mixes.

This can occur for a few different reasons; for example, if the end of the faucet is asymmetrical or slightly worn, it will bump the water around when it exits, causing the turbulent flow.

Laminar flow occurs when a fluid travels in a smooth, streamlined path will all of the liquid flowing out at a constant rate and following the exact same route. This uniform speed and path means that there’s no turbulence at all, making it impossible to see any movement within the flow!

This generally occurs when liquid is flowing through a perfectly smooth and symmetrical hole. For example, if you fill a balloon with water, and create a small hole with a sharp object, the hole will have no real imperfections, so the resulting water flow will almost always be laminar!

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Gushing Water Tree in Montenegro

The ‘Gushing Water Tree’ in the village of Dinosa, Montenegro, is a spectacular shrub that has become a local landmark and viral sensation thanks to its waterfall impersonation. A self-watering plant is every gardener’s dream; however, as disturbingly dream-like as it seems, this tree isn’t an endless water source.

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It turns out, the entire village is fed by a large natural spring, the area containing multiple freshwater streams that run both above and below the ground. During periods of heavy rain, or when the winter snow melts in summer, the water level rises, causing the spring to overflow into channels that run underneath the Gushing Water Tree.

The tree actually has a hollow trunk, and the pressure from the flooding spring causes the water to run up inside the tree until its trunk is full.

Gushing Water Tree

So, when the tree can’t hold it any longer, the water from the spring will burst through a hole in its trunk, creating the magical, and slightly embarrassing effect. At least the underground channel didn’t turn the water yellow!

Whirpools

When it comes to water phenomena, few are more famous or feared than whirlpools. These terrifying twisters are made of rotating currents of water that form through suction, or opposing currents, resulting in a characteristic vortex that channels anything in those currents down!

The term whirlpool covers everything from the suction at the end of an unplugged bath, to the Moskstraumen off the Norwegian coast; a gigantic system of whirlpools that grow up to 160ft wide, spinning with enough force to drag objects to the bottom of the ocean.

whirlpool

Whirlpools have terrified sailors for centuries, however, they’re not always scary! Sometimes they can look a little magical but when you’re also close to one, and in a boat no less, they’re undoubtedly scary!

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Back in 2021, a couple from Astoria, Oregon, were driving back home when they came across a whirlpool, spinning around in a lake beside the road. The pair pulled over to take a better look, and, obviously, throw some stuff into it to see how strong its currents were.

After throwing a few sticks and reeds into the whirlpool, they came across an incredible discovery: the whirlpool was actually a portal, and whatever they through into it was teleported into another body of water on the other side of the road.

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The couple uploaded footage of the portal onto TikTok, and the videos soon went viral as netizens tried to figure out what was causing the phenomenon. The theories covered everything, from portal guns to witchcraft!

However, a few weeks later, the couple finally figured it out when they returned to the whirlpool during low tide. It turns out, the whirlpool was caused by two large culverts, giant pipes that were sucking the water and debris to the other side of the road to prevent it from flooding.

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The fact the illusion was caused by pipes instead of the paranormal was kind of disappointing, but luckily, it isn’t the only magical whirlpool that’s gone viral! Springtime in Latvia brings lots of floods, and the spring of 2013 saw some of the worst flooding the country had seen in over 100 years.

During this time, Janis Astics was walking through a village called Dviete, when he came across an unbelievably monstrous whirlpool inside a river, slowly consuming everything around it! Janis watched as the whirlpool ate logs, concrete, and chunks of ice in mere minutes.

Watch on YouTube

The whirlpool looks like a draining bathtub, and it actually works in a similar way. The water and debris in this video are being sucked into an inlet at the bottom of the river, and once the debris is sucked down, it’s pulled through an underground channel, before popping out in a separate stream running nearby.

From the surface, this whirlpool looks absolutely terrifying, but it turns out, it’s just a big, dangerous, underwater waterslide. Sounds pretty fun if you like drowning!

Bioluminiscent Waters

Everybody loves a trip to the beach, but the nighttime swim in the video below turned freaky when the beachgoers found themselves walking, swimming, and surfing on seawater that glowed in the dark!

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The water looks like something out of a sci-fi film but believe it or not, the video was filmed in Los Angeles, California. The ocean in LA started to display these crazy colors back in 2020, however, the world is full of beaches with bioluminescent water! Oceans all over the world can turn bright blue when a boat, person, or wave disturbs them.

It turns out, the phenomenon isn’t caused by the water itself, and the light is actually a product of blooms of microscopic plankton. These tiny little creatures utilize bioluminescence, a defense mechanism that causes them to light up whenever they feel disturbed or threatened to ward off predators.

These waves are filled with the creatures, so when surfers take to the ocean and carve past them, their disco defense mechanisms activate in the millions! Well, that certainly puts a new meaning on surfers riding waves into the blue!

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Sea Foam

You should already know this, but seawater is not a liquid made for drinking. The sheer amount of salt, pollutants, and bacteria in it is guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your mouth. And it’s this dirty mix that’s also responsible for the freaky phenomenon known as sea foam.

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Along shorelines around the world, sea foam is created when the water is especially polluted, usually forming when giant blooms of algae decay offshore. This decaying alga mixes in with the seawater, and when the mixture is churned up by the wind and waves, it can create foam.

Sea foam can be found on beaches all over the world, and the substance generally forms in small, harmless quantities but that can all change when a storm rolls in.

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When polluted seawater is whipped up by extreme weather, it can create huge amounts of sea foam, enough to cover beachfront buildings. The beach bombardment below took place in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, when the city was attacked with a wall of sea foam created by the 120mph winds of the Yakecan Cyclone in 2022.

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In the case of Punta Del Este, the foam was at least stuck to the beach. The footage below comes from Tossa De Mar, Spain, when the entire town was filled with foam during 2020’s Storm Gloria.

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It looks devastating, but in both of these cases, nobody was injured. In fact, some people actually enjoy it when sea foam starts forming, treating it like some sort of supersized bubble bath. However, sea foam bathing might not be such a good idea.

Don’t forget, sea foam is created by dead algae and pollutants, and in some cases, it can contain traces of petroleum, detergents, or toxic algae. This can result in a pretty sickly soak, leaving beachgoers dirty, and occasionally irritating their skin.

Waterspouts

Have you heard the song about the Itsy-Bitsy Spider? The little bug with a passion for waterspouts? Well, it turns out that little guy’s pretty hardcore, because in nature, waterspouts are scary.

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This type of waterspout is a kind of giant vortex that forms on top of a body of water, spinning around like a big wet tornado. The vortex is technically a column of cloud filled wind that lifts up some of the ocean water as it rapidly rotates.

There are 2 types of waterspouts: tornadic and fair weather. Tornadic Waterspouts occur when a tornado from dry land moves over the ocean, or a tornado forms over water. This formation is pretty dangerous, accompanied by high wind speeds, hail and a large amount of lightning. And water and electricity don’t mix well together.

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These funnels are undeniably frightening; however, most waterspouts are ‘fair weather’ waterspouts, a less-threatening vortex that occurs during calm weather conditions. Fair weather waterspouts typically form in tropical climates, usually in places with warm temperatures.

As ocean water evaporates into humid air, it rises into the sky, causing clouds to form above the ocean. This rising air continues to flow into the clouds, creating a very strong updraft. At this point, if any rotating winds flow through the area, they can get caught around the updraft, creating a vortex that stretches from the ocean up to the clouds.

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These fair-weather waterspouts only last for around 10 minutes, spinning at just under 67mph. That might seem fast, but when you learn that a light tornado classification starts at 65 mph, it’s nothing! These comparatively low wind speeds mean that ‘fair weather’ waterspouts don’t cause any real damage.

Despite this, fair weather waterspouts aren’t totally harmless. Occasionally, the vortexes can cause a rare phenomenon where it starts to rain fish. As the waterspout sucks up water, it can suck up whatever’s in the water with it, dumping the creatures onto dry land as it loses momentum. So, if you see a waterspout, get your umbrellas ready and your fishing nets!

Brinicle, The Icy Finger Of Death

Let’s move away from the surface and dive underwater to look at a fatal phenomenon that occurs at the bottom of the ocean. At a glance, the underwater formation below might look like an icicle, but it’s actually a brinicle; a hollow icicle that grows underwater.

brinicle ice finger of death

But what’s so deadly about a brinicle? Well, despite what it looks like, this little slither of ice is actually a weapon of mass destruction. Eventually, it’ll grow down and hit the seabed, and when it does, the water and the earth around it will flash freeze, killing all living organisms in the area with an explosion of ice!

Fortunately, this super unsettling superpower has a scientific explanation, and it all comes back to the way that salt lowers the freezing point of water. Seawater’s high salt content means that it can get incredibly cold before freezing solid. However, when the weather conditions get cold enough, the ocean will start to freeze at the surface, covering the oceans around the Antarctic and the Arctic with sheets of ice.

brinicle formation

When these oceans start to freeze, all of the impurities and salt are pushed out of the water by the ice. These impurities are pushed down into the water, creating a layer of extra-salty fluid, sitting directly underneath the surface of the sheet of ice.

Extra salty water has two unique properties: One, it has an even lower freezing point than regular seawater, allowing it to become far colder than the water that surrounds it; Two, it’s far denser than the surrounding water, and its weight causes it to sink, traveling downwards in a stream towards the seabed.

brinicle formation

These two unique properties are what cause the brinicle to form. As the extra-salty stream heads towards the ocean floor, it’s so cold that the water around it starts to flash freeze, surrounding the stream with a growing tube of ice as it moves. This tube of ice acts as a hosepipe, allowing the extra-cold stream to travel down to the seabed in a straight line.

When the brinicle finally reaches its destination, the super chilled water hits the ground and spreads across the sand, freezing everything in the area! This kills anything on the ocean floor in its path!

Square Waves

From one deadly water phenomenon to another, let’s look at another part of the ocean that you definitely don’t want to get caught swimming in: a Cross Sea, also known, aptly, as square waves.

This pattern of waves is a rare phenomenon where waves appear to move across each other, forming a constantly advancing, watery grid on the ocean. They’ve been observed all over the world, but the phenomenon only occurs when two separate wave systems collide.

square waves cross sea

This means they have to be moving in different directions, creating two different sets of waves in the same area. For example, a powerful wind may be pushing one set of waves in one direction, while an ocean swell pushes a different set of waves in another. A cross sea is the point in which these two sets of waves meet.

Swimming into the grid to play the wettest game of tic-tac-toe ever sounds like a ton of fun, but if you go for a dip in these waters, you can wave your life goodbye. Square waves are incredibly dangerous because they’re practically impossible to escape once you’re caught in them.

square waves

The currents run in different directions from colliding angles, so as soon as you escape one, you’ll get sucked into another. All in all, the square waves are pretty cool, but they’re definitely best enjoyed from the beach!

Bubble Ring

I think we can all agree that you’re never too old to enjoy bubbles. But for all the fun shapes they can take in the air, they can take on even wilder forms underwater. The clip below shows a ‘vortex ring,’ a fast-spinning bubble in a ring shape!

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It’s a phenomenon that can occur in a couple of different ways. The first way is through water pressure. When you release a big bubble of air underwater, it starts to float upwards. This is because bubbles are primarily made of gas, which is less dense than water.

As a result, the water below the bubble starts to push upwards, with most of the force concentrated to the center of the sphere. If the bubble was formed in deep water, it will be affected by the water pressure in two different ways. As the bubble rises, the water pressure will simultaneously push down on the entire bubble, trying to push it towards the seabed.

Sometimes, if the bubble is big enough, these simultaneous forces will cause the bottom of the bubble to rise faster than the top. When this happens, the two separate forces will ‘meet’ at the center of the bubble, and the sphere will suddenly circle around them, taking on a fast-spinning donut shape!

But bubble rings can get even better, because they can also be created by Beluga whales. Beluga whales have been observed creating bubble rings both in the wild and in captivity, and the creatures create the special shapes for the same reason we do: for fun.

Watch on YouTube

Scientists currently believe that the whales simply blow the bubbles because they’re bored, creating the rings to play with. This scientific revelation is as fascinating as it is adorable, showing that humans aren’t the only animals that like to watch crazy water phenomena occur.

Convergence: When Waters Don't Mix

Occasionally, water can refuse to go with the flow. Such a dramatic phenomenon is called convergence, a situation where two bodies of water meet without mixing, creating a visible barrier between the two.

water phenomena convergence gulf of mexico

Such a specific case is the Fraser River Plume, a convergence that occurs when the brown water from the Fraser River flows into the salty water of the Georgia Strait. These bodies of water obviously look very different, but their differences aren’t just superficial.

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The convergence occurs due to the high sediment levels in the Fraser River, as it contains far more dirt than the waters in the Salish sea. This difference in sediment levels prevents the waters from mixing, and as the Fraser River shoots out into the ocean with force, it cuts through the Salish sea’s water, causing the stark divide!

Convergence can occur between two oceans too, like where the Baltic Sea and North Sea meet at Skagen, Denmark. The ocean’s waves crash together without mixing at all!

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These anti-social oceans don’t want to mix, and one of them is particularly salty, literally. The North Sea’s water is far saltier than the Baltic’s, making it far denser. Again, this difference in density stops the waters from mixing, leaving the oceans divided by a clear border.

The effect that convergence creates looks pretty cool, but it would be nice if everybody could just get along. Everybody of water, that is.

Multicolored Lakes

That brown and blue divide caused by convergence was pretty awesome, but next up we have a divide that’s even more spectacular. Looking like cotton candy, the lagoon is a part of Lake MacDonnell, a bright pink salt lake in South Australia.

Lake MacDonnell actually has 3 separate lakes, the area also containing the aptly named Green Lake and Blue Lake. Unsurprisingly, the flamboyant pink lake is the most famous of the three.

Lake MacDonnell pink lake

The pink lake's unique color is caused by salt-loving algae called dunaliella salina, and a bacteria called halobacteria. Both of these organisms live inside salty water, and as they move around, they naturally secrete pink pigments, which slowly color the water.

This pretty pink lake is pretty amazing, but there are other colorful bodies of water that are more terrifying than cute. An ocean of blood might sound like a story from the Bible, but for the inhabitants of Hormuz Island in Iran, this biblical horror story is a reality! Their island is surrounded by crimson waves all year round.

Hormuz Island red waters

Luckily, this terrifying tide isn’t actually made of blood, and the explanation is more scientific than horrific. The soil around the coast of Hormuz Island is called ‘Gelack,’ a substance full of a mineral called ferrous oxide.

The red pigmentation in the ferrous oxide stains the beach’s soil and the water around, the color bleeding into the ocean every time the tide laps the shore. Despite being caused by a colorful metal, I say the waters of Hormuz Island are still bloody creepy!

I hope you were amazed at these unsettling water phenomena! Thanks for reading.

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