The oceans cover over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet when it comes to travelling most of us stick to dry land. It’s a shame, as there are some amazing experiences to be had underwater – from swimming with whale sharks to diving around World War II wrecks. Thanks to advances in camera technology, more and more photographers are able to capture these mesmerising watery worlds, and once-elusive sights are now just a click away on YouTube or Vimeo. Here are ten of our favourite underwater videos.
On the Ribbon Reefs
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is perhaps the world’s top dive site. The monumental coral maze stretches for over 2000km, but some of the finest dives are in the northern Ribbon Reefs. This footage was captured from several spots along this chain and shows the diversity of the reef and its denizens in incredible detail – make sure you look out for the clownfish wiggling away to the strains of Bach’s “Air on the G string” at 01:21.
The underwater river
Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is riddled with cenotes, sinkholes formed as the region’s limestone rocks have been gradually eroded. One of the most spectacular is the eerie Cenote Angelita, a 59m-deep pool in which the top portion of fresh water is separated from the salty depths by two metres of hydrogen sulphide. This cloudy layer looks unmistakeably like an underwater river, as you can see in this clip.
Plane to see
In 1944 during the World War II battle of Pelleliu, a Japanese “JAKE” seaplane, crashed in unknown circumstances three kilometres off the coast of Koror in Palau, Micronesia. Lying just 17m below the surface, the surprisingly well-preserved wreck is now a popular dive site, but few have tackled it as a freedive. Watch fearless swimmer Dean serenely explore the wreckage in this beautiful video. It took him nearly a year to get the perfect conditions to film.
Having a whale of a time
Watch one of the most popular YouTubers, daily vlogger FunForLouis, aka Louis Cole, swim with whale sharks off the coast of Cancun in Mexico to celebrate his channel reaching one million subscribers. Despite their size, these are surprisingly gentle creatures: filter feeders who exist on a diet of plankton and krill. Seeing how close swimmers can get to them it’s easy to see why Louis says this is “one of the most incredible things you can ever do”.
An official clip from the BBC’s Human Planet series narrated by David Attenborough, which follows Bajau spear fisherman, Sulbin, a so-called sea gypsy from Sabah, Malaysia. Watch as he pushes his body “beyond the realms of possibility”, diving down twenty metres and spending nearly three minutes underwater. Not only does he do this on one breath of air, but he’s able to walk along the sea floor to stalk his catch.
If you’re wondering where your PADI certificate should take you next, check out this film from Johannes Weber, captured off the southeast cost of Bali in Indonesia. The island might be better known for its rice terraces, beaches and surf-lashed coastline, but this series of aquatic close-ups shows there’s just as much beauty underwater as there is on land.
Beneath the Antarctic ice
Claustrophobic? You might want to watch this film with caution. In the two-minute clip divers enter Antarctica’s Ross Sea through a small drill hole, with only a rope to guide them back above the ice sheet. Perhaps most remarkable, however, is the sense of serenity in the blue and green dappled waters below.
The sardine run
This is no ordinary diving trip. In this seven-minute film Mark van Coller captures the mayhem of the annual sardine run, which takes place off the coast of South Africa from May to July. There are few natural phenomena as spectacular as this brutal feeding frenzy – and few divers brave enough to capture it.
Just for fun
Have you ever posted a letter underwater? Hideaway Island resort in Vanuatu has run the world’s only underwater post office since 2003. Guests can dive down to use its services with nothing more than a snorkel, although you’ll need to buy a special waterproof postcard, or your despatch from the road will reach its destination rather soggy.