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Cetaphobia: The Fear of Whales This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Everyone has an irrational fear. For some it is the color green; for others it could be the dark. In my case, it's whales. I don't know why everyone finds this so amusing and surprising, considering there are people out there scared of much weirder things, such as marshmallows (no offense if that's you). I mean, I see why fears like heights, snakes, or spiders are far more common and fairly accepted. You can fall, you can be bitten, but what are the chances of a whale swallowing you? I really have no idea. To be honest, my fear seems a little odd even to me, since I can't really give you a good reason. But, that's what makes it an irrational fear.

Every time someone learns about my fear of whales they're so entertained you'd think they'd been told I was scared of something as harmless as a teddy bear. In one class at school we were practicing descriptive writing, and naturally the teacher used a picture of a whale. Even though it was in its natural habitat and a photograph (for ­crying out loud), I could barely look at it without shuddering. So of course my friends told my teacher, who burst out laughing and wouldn't let it go. But cetaphobia is perfectly justifiable. I mean, if you really think about it, a fear of whales is reasonable.

For one thing, a killer whale (great name, huh?) has a dorsal fin six feet in length. And that's just the fin. But the killer whale, also known as orca, is relatively small. Compared to a humpback or a sperm whale, the orca is like a chihuahua next to a Great Dane.

Whales are ginormous. How is that not at least a little scary? Whales are the largest mammals (yes, mammals, complete with hair and the ability to nurse their babies), even dwarfing elephants. Their monstrous size is probably the leading factor in my fear.

Another reason for my fear is that I can't imagine swimming in the ocean with a whale right there beside me. I have reoccurring nightmares that I'm in the ocean, at school, or in some other public place and a whale (or multiple whales) appears and begins circling me and brushing up against me. This is terrifying. If anyone else with cetaphobia is reading this, he'll understand the terror of these dreams. How could any human get that close to a whale without freaking out? I swear you'd have to be a robot or something.

There are plenty of scary facts and explanations for cetaphobia, but I'll limit myself to just two more: their power/strength and their appearance. Considering their size, imagine how strong they must be. I mean, those things can take out great white sharks, a commonly feared ocean predator. Just let that sink in. It perplexes me that anyone would get onto a boat to go whale-watching when for all they know, the whale is right beneath them and might breech at any moment, capsizing the boat.

My parents don't understand my fear because they say “whales are so beautiful.” I'm sorry, but I really don't understand how whales can be considered beautiful. Out of all the creatures in the world, from lions to mice, you're telling me this giant creature covered in barnacles is beautiful? I mean, you could argue that crabs are stunning too.

Hopefully I have helped you understand that cetaphobia is real and perfectly reasonable. Or maybe you have some clarification about my fear of whales. If any part of this article has caused you to become afraid of whales or like them any less, I apologize.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Natnat328 said...
Dec. 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm:
I understand yo completely! I thought i was the only one! I started getting random nightmares about orcas like 4-5 years ago and i still do. I am terrified of killer whales. I cant even stand looking at a picture of them. My friends always laugh when i tell them about it, but i dont find it that weird. I guess they think that the chance of actually getting killed by a killer whale isnt that big, but either way they terrify me. If im in a pool and ... (more »)
natcac This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 11:05 pm :
Thanks for your reply!  I definitely feel that way with the pool thing, too! Haha.  Good to hear I'm not alone!
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