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One idea I've always wanted to try writing is the concept of vampires exploiting their lack of a need to breathe and generally low-maintenance biology to escape the brunt of the sun's rays by living underneath the sea, and the opportunity to use this idea in my current story has recently presented itself. So I'd like to take this chance to check if the idea, as it stands, sounds like something an actual human being with an actual human being brain would actually consider a sane idea.

Here's the background: For the past six months to a year, the human race has been granted supernatural powers on a weekly basis, and since you only get to keep half a dozen or so at a time, everyone is walking around with their own customized assortment of superpowers, along with a few permanent powers everyone got and can't get rid of. One of these, the ability to temporarily deactivate anything that uses electricity, combustion or chemical reactions just by looking at it, has helped cause the total collapse of society and infrastructure, and now humanity's living at a tech level around that of a zombie apocalypse, forced to fend for themselves to get food and supplies and stay safe.

Now, a certain kind of supernatural power that's been periodically showing up is a shapeshifting power you can't keep longer than a week, which lets you transform into a member of a new fantasy race, and if you like, when the week is up you can keep that new body and give up the old one instead. One of these races, the power for which shows up around a month after society collapses, is called the Greys, and they're functionally vampires. They don't need to drink blood (they eat normal human food instead, although they do find blood tasty) and don't have the weaknesses to garlic or crosses and the like, but otherwise they're dead ringers for them. They burn up in direct sunlight, don't need to breathe, can see perfectly in the dark, and are incredibly resistant to both high and low temperatures.

Now, somebody figures out that these traits mean they can actually survive underwater, and that when you're a Grey, going 20 feet underwater is all it takes to be completely protected from the sun's rays (it’s not the UV specifically, but a supernatural element of the sun that’s neutralized by 20 feet of water). The idea is that the severe shortages of food and the dangerous anarchy that passes for politics in the immediate aftermath of the collapse make a lot of people decide they'll have a way better chance of surviving and living in relative safety and peace if they become Greys and try to colonize the ocean from scratch, reasoning that thanks to the aforementioned anti-tech power and the total failure of the power grid, technology barely works above the water anymore either, so any society they could build down there would hardly be more primitive than up there from a technological perspective. Plus, a few powers have shown up recently that solve the whole "you can't talk underwater" thing too.

Is there any flaw in this logic that would make it clear to anyone who attempts it that even in this dire situation this is a terrible idea?

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    $\begingroup$ Water pressure. Seems like they’d still have a lot of problems at depth with water pressure. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jun 15 '18 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ The kind of vampires that don't need to breathe are usually the dead ones. I think those would be eaten by fish and other tiny sea creatures they won't even see. That said, there will always be some people who will want to turn into vampires just because they think it's "cool". $\endgroup$ – Real Subtle Jun 15 '18 at 6:25
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I mean, there isn't a reason why your grey vampires wouldn't be able to chill out on the sea floor (assuming pressure isn't an issue), but I doubt it would be a good or marketable idea.

To me, the biggest problem comes from the thing that drew your greys into the ocean in the first place: a lack of light. On the ocean floors, there would be absolutely no light sources to speak of. While the sun wouldn't bother them, your greys wouldn't have any way to see anything. Even if they had specialized, night vision eyes, there isn't enough ambient light to get anything to work with at all. Unless the greys have some kind of bioluminescence, they will need some tech to see anything.

The next problem would be food. I sincerely hope all your greys like crab and calamari, because that's practically the most traditionally edible things down there. Sure, you technically have the entire ocean to harvest, but then you need infrastructure to transport supplies from shallow coral reefs and the like (which would negate the benefit of living in the deep, since reefs get a lot of sunlight).

This brings me to the biggest red flag I would have as a grey looking at your brochure: technology. Your society would be limited to whatever tools and tech they bring from the surface, as manufacturing anything underwater would be near impossible. After all, getting a simple single blacksmithing operation on the ocean floor would be a feat of engineering on par with building the pyramids. And some level of technology is absolutely needed since the greys still need tools and, yes, light sources.

Basically, you would be trying to convince a bunch of substantially powerful people from modern nations to commit to becoming a completely blind aboriginal society. I think most greys would rather just wear burkas . . .

A woman wearing a burka, which completely covers her skin from sunlight . . . and move to someplace with a lot of cloud cover.

That being said, if you write a story that includes underwater trains manned by vampires, I will read the entire thing cover-to-cover with the happiest of smiles on my face.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but to be clear, it’s not the UV rays that hurt Greys. That’s why I said they could handle anything deeper than 20 feet without getting burned. I’m sorry I phrased it in a way that made it sound like I just didn’t understand how light works. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ Ohhhh, I see. That does make the move to Atlantis significantly easier. Still, the point about the difficulty of manufacturing anything in water remains valid. Maybe they could build some artificial towers for craftsmen and merchants and the like (think a lighthouse/oil rig combo). That could solve the issue somewhat while looking pretty rad. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Jun 15 '18 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, yeah, that is an interesting idea! Would trade with the surface also solve the problem, or at least mitigate it? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde Probably, assuming the greys have goods worth trading (they will probably have a lot of spare food, for instance). Even if trade alone was insignificant, they could always send out ships to scavenge or raid coastal cities for needed materials and use the towers as docks. Oh, and I just remembered that they could probably reuse some stuff on wrecked ships.Honestly, with the 20 ft rule in place, I am totally for your idea. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Jun 15 '18 at 15:09
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What about undersea predators? Humans are not built for swimming fast enough to get away from undersea predators and can't fight off the larger ones very well.

If I was a vampire my fear of sharks would keep me out of the water.

Thus if many vampires migrate underwater, it is possible that many sea monsters - some of which - like cetaceans and cephalopods - may have approximately human intelligence levels - will eat vampires and acquire vampire powers, and perhaps emerge on land to terrorize land dwellers. And there could be invasions of land sharks.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the pure awesome of the suggested plot twist. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 15 '18 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ The vampires have superhuman powers though, as do all other humanoid races. Would undersea predators really be more dangerous than supernaturally-enhanced human bandits and raiders in the years following total societal collapse? $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 20:10
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Argh, there's always this problem: the 'true' vampire is a biological impossibility in itself. 'Undead' just don't work, cells need energy from chemicals process that are activated by breathing, heart-pumping, methabolism...you can't have a shapeshifting dead fleshbag moving around, unless there is magic involved. In this case, what the heck!, just have them do what they want, they have no limits already.

Otherwise these 'vampires' would only be genetically engineered humans who can live off fungi, lichen, insects and make the best of whatever they eat. Their natural pallor wouldn't be a problem for they do not need vitamin D anymore. Augmented night vision...in other words, you throw in everything to have your own morlocks of the sea and they can work with technology just fine. Add gills and webbed hands and feet for swimming and breathing in the water, at least they'd make a complete integration in their new environment.

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going 20 feet underwater is all it takes to be completely protected from the sun's rays.

More like 657 feet ($\approx200m$):

Light penetration in seawater

To make real sure you are off the hook regarding sunlight you would have to go off the continental shelf, which usually doesn't go deeper than 140 meters. If you want somewhere plain to have buildings you will have to go all the way to the abyss - which presents its own set of problems.

If you can handle the pressure, and the salinity (which is extremely poisonous to land dwellers), and the cold temperature, you have three main immediate problems to solve:

  • Food, part 1: without photosynthesis, the production of energy in the abyss is very limited. The largest energy source are leftovers from above. From the wiki for the abyss:

Probably the most important ecological characteristic of abyssal ecosystems is energy limitation. Abyssal seafloor communities are considered to be food limited because benthic production depends on the input of detrital organic material produced in the euphotic zone, thousands of meters above. Most of the organic flux arrives as an attenuated rain of small particles (typically, only 0.5–2% of net primary production in the euphotic zone), which decreases inversely with water depth.

This means you are in an area where your civilization growth may ve very limited due to food shortage.

  • Food, part 2: the whole food situation is a problem that the inhabitants of the abyss have been facing for millions of years. Evolution made them pretty tough due to that. You may be facing giant and colossal squid, for starters. Good luck.

  • You are not a swimmer: moving around at the depths of the ocean is not a walk in the park [citation needed]. You will be spending so much energy just moving around that it may not be worth the calories bill. Your vampire race would better evolve fins and the shape of an abyssal fish if they wish for this to be feasible.

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  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, I said “the brunt”. I realize the midnight zone is really far down, but for the sake of the story, since it’s a supernatural element of the sun’s rays that burns them and not the UV, that supernatural element can be neutralized with 20 feet of water. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ My mistake. I DID say “the brunt” at some point while writing it, but I must have rewritten it before posting. I’ve edited it for clarity. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JasonClyde You invalidated a couple answers by doing that. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 15 '18 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Sort of, I suppose, but I had always said they could survive depths as shallow as 20 feet, this was just me clarifying that’s not an instance of my ignorance of science. $\endgroup$ – Jason Clyde Jun 15 '18 at 12:26
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Technology

Going below the surface means abandoning all civilized technology that you can't pack down with you or sink before you go overboard and that isn't waterproof. There will be no internet, books, TV, alcoholic beverages, cellphones, or anything else we take for granted here on the surface.

Medicine

Do your vampires need any sort of medicine or medical care or do they have supernatural healing? There is no penicillin in the ocean, nor plaster arm or leg casts.

Food

As others have mentioned, food can be scarce under water, depending on where and when you go. But beyond just that is the personal tastes of your vampires. There will be no starches like bread or rice. There will be no condiments like ketchup or wasabi sauce. There will be no grills or stir fries. It will be raw "fish" all the time. And you have to learn how to catch them, since fishing from underwater isn't a natural skill set for humans.

Drink

Your being require food, you say. Do they also require water? There will be no unsalted water in your ocean home, no tea, no coffee, no beer. Just salt water. Which is toxic to humans. Not sure about your vampires? Can they filter the salt?

Sanitation

Vampires who grew up in the civilized world might find it awkward to eat in the ocean when that's also where they poop and pee. If they're eating, they're pooping too. That's not a hard stop, but it is a thing that would make it uncomfortable until you can overcome that taboo.

Pressure

Your beings don't breathe. But are they properly adapted to the pressures of bottom-of-the-ocean depths? Or will their flesh be squeezed into pulp like a mortal human's would?

Communications

Most vampire literature that I've read that discusses it at all states that vampires only breathe when they talk. Your underwater civilization cannot have language. Well, I guess they could learn sign language, if they're dark vision is sufficient. But there will be no way to use pen or paper and no way to speak, since that requires lungs. Lungs not filled with water.

Clothing

Your vampires will give up clothing. Clothes will rot and they add weight and drag to their bodies, making swimming inefficient. That may not be a big deal, but it's one more shred of their surface humanity that they've lost.

Movement

The human body isn't designed for underwater movement. Your vampires, even if they are or become amazing swimmers, will never move as fast as the average fish. They just aren't built for it. No fins, no streamlined shape. Just awkward feet and hands that create drag.

Sanity

This is the real concern. If you pack up a few belongings and drop into the depths of the sea, you're giving up everything. The entirety of your civilized history is behind you, on shore somewhere. You're in the complete dark with no lights or electricity. No modern conveniences, no nothing but oceanic life forms. How long can such beings go on in such an alien world before they lose any shred of sanity? When they go mad, what then?

(I don't remember the name, but I read a novel once where a supernatural vampire managed to pull itself to the US shoreline after sinking in the Titanic. It took decades. And the being was quite insane by the time it arrived.)

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  • $\begingroup$ For some reason, I assumed greys would walk on the sea bed. Not sure why I did that. Other than that, I disagree that sign language would become the norm. They could just fill their now useless lungs with sea water, push that through their vocal cords, and use water as the medium in which the soundwaves travel. Excellent point about drinking water, by the way. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Jun 15 '18 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not a doctor, so I'm not a valid source for this. But I'm not sure our voice box is capable of producing sound waves via water pressure? Maybe so? $\endgroup$ – CaM Jun 15 '18 at 17:25

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