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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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This article has 16 comments. Post your own!

natcac This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
today at 7:25 pm:
Personally, I think the best way to avoid a fear is to not avoid the cause.  Put yourself in the situation and confront your fears! You're bigger than your fear.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."     Obviously I don't mean swim with a whale because I would not even put myself through that torture.  Just push yourself until you reach the point where you know for sure that you can't go any further
 
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gazeemyth said...
Aug. 16 at 9:50 pm:
Just googled fear of whales, and I have to say, I completely agree with you in regards to reactions. Seriously, I have had a girlfriends go into states of panic when a non-venemous spider that they could easily kill by stepping on is in the same room at them bust up laughing when they find out my number one fear is whales. I have had people trying to fuck with me by sending me pictures of whales. What they don't understand is it's not looking at the whale that freaks me out, its the enti... (more »)
 
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Makmar36 said...
Jun. 18 at 12:34 am:
Wow thank you to all of you out there sharing your fear of whales. I too ran out of the museum crying from the life size on the wall. Everyone laughs, they find it hysterical. Even my 5 year old laughs, she showed me a picture of a cartoon whale on her Red Lobster menu and I broke down crying in the restaurant! My teenagers find it very entertaining and this story really made me feel like other people are out there like this! I grew up scared of ocean and deep water and sharks ect ect and it was... (more »)
 
natcac This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 7:32 pm :
My teacher recently showed a clip of Disney's Fantasia in which large whales, probably humpbacks, obtained the power to fly and rose out of the arctic waters and flew up into the sky.  Naturally I was utterly horrified and disturbed, and wouldn't even look at the screen.  My friends, of course, all watched me the entire time to see my reaction.
 
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DobbyIsAlive said...
Jun. 9 at 10:04 pm:
Oh my gosh! I just googled "The fear of whales" to find out what I had and I read your article! I'm so glad there are others that are afraid! I too cannot even look at pictures of whales without feeling as if I'm going to faint! It's so scary! 
 
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SooCalpity said...
Jun. 8 at 6:00 am:
I hate whales and am absolutely terrified of them. I think my fear acctualy comes from pinocchio (the whale part) which is weird as it's a U. Anyway I'm glad to know I'm not the only one as I freak out when I see a picture of one, oh and the same thing happens when I see pictures of dolphins. Thankyou for this article.
 
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Pathy said...
May 29 at 1:25 am:
I feel your pain, I can't even go into that room with the whale suspended on the ceiling in the measeum of natural history, I would faint, or die on the spot. I cried for hours after being forced to walk through there for a school trip as a child.

I'm scared of whales for a variety of reasons. I am afraid that if I were in the water with one it would eat me, it would possibly knock me unconcious to drown in the water with it's tail fin or flippers or they will swim ... (more »)
 
whalessucck replied...
yesterday at 10:11 am :
i now have a fear of a whale drownng me while swimming above me ...i dont think i would get to the top regardless i wouldnt move if i was in the water with a whale id die
 
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madwegs said...
May 5 at 11:45 pm:
I am terrified of whales, and I live in Illinois. Just thinking about them makes me anxious. I had to step out of biology lecture last year because there was a picture of a whale on the board, and I got so scared that I couldn't breathe. People think it's so cute when I tell them, but really, it's awful. I totally understand you! Also the ocean in general is perplexing.
 
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Never you mind said...
Apr. 29 at 9:08 pm:
I'm petrified of any whale larger than a killer whale. I'm not sure why but I can't even look on the web at a picture. Especially a dead beached whale (or anything dead for that matter, will not even get into that phobia now.). For me it's the sheer size of them. I think I have an issue with trying to wrap my head around their size and the fact that I could probably be swallowed up whole throw their blow hole and the whale most likely wouldn't notice. I don't know but it&... (more »)
 
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valeryv said...
Apr. 22 at 3:34 pm:
I completely understand you! I've been scared of whales since i was 12 or 13. I'm a swimmer and in the pool were i practice (since i was 3) there are dark blue majolica imitating the shape of a whale at the bottom and it just freaks me out. Everytime i look down i see that enormous figure right behind me and i get very anxious, sometimes i have to stop swimming to calm myself down. But that's not all, when im sleeping i have current nightmares about being alone in the ocean surrounde... (more »)
 
natcac This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 7:28 pm :
Personally I believe the best way to avoid a fear is to not avoid it.  Instead, confront it!  As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Obviously I don't mean go swimming with a whale because I wouldn't even put myself through that torture.  Just push yourself to face your fears! 
 
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RAMJ said...
Apr. 17 at 2:07 pm:
Sorry if my English isn't that well, I'm Dutch.  I got goosebumps reading you're story. I am so extremely afraid of whales. Even the name scares me. When I see a picture or a documentary on TV I can't look at it. My body totaly goes into shock. People aways make fun of me because they say I will never see one in real life. GOD NO I'll make sure I won't 
 
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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...
Apr. 2 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!
 
JERRADV replied...
May 13 at 2:04 am :
I dont know who you are, but that you from the bottom of my heart for literally putting all of my feelings in words. I literally could have wrote this (if I wasnt afraid to even talk about the W word). I had to stop reading your article and skip over a few places because I couldnt handle the description. LOL. Actually, no, not LOL. Its not funny to me really. Ive gotten so use to having to laugh with everyone else about my fear of them that it just seems like im SUPPOSE to laugh about it now. Bu... (more »)
 
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