56 Unique Sea Animal Tattoo Ideas for Men & Women in 2023
There’s something about the ocean and the animals lurking below the surface that people really enjoy. Maybe it’s because the sea is so vast and mysterious or perhaps it’s our fascination with the fact that there are sea animals that have the ability to wreck entire ships. Either way, sea animals are awesome and we totally understand why you would want one.
But before you go and get your own sea animal tattoo, let us help guide you in choosing the perfect piece of ink. Below we’ll show you the loveliest, most amazing, and most outstanding sea animal tattoo ideas of 2023. You’ll surely be inspired with the perfect idea of which tattoo style to get as well as where to get tattooed on your body.
With that said, let’s begin.
Half-Sleeve Fish and Leaves Tattoo
There are so many styles present in this design but what is most noticeable is the exceptional Dotwork and fine lines that are smooth and not jaggered. The splash of green creates a focal point and the blending of the color from dark to light gives the fish a sheened look. I like that it takes up a bit of space, creating the illusion that this client has a full sleeve.
Adorable Pastel Dolphin and Sword Tattoo on Arm
How cute is this pastel dolphin tattoo? I love how the dolphin is swimming around the sword, and even though it’s a very feminine piece, the sword adds a touch of masculinity and strength. The colors are pretty and I enjoy that the artist kept to using minimal colors while managing to create an amazing design. Putting this piece on the arm was a fantastic choice as it’s a nice flat area and suits the straightness of the blade. Props to the artist for doing a great job.
Blackwork Lionfish Wrist Tattoo
Lionfish are a fierce species and often symbolize strength and protection, so adding this to your ink collection is somewhat of a power move. The pepper shading in the fins adds a nice contrast from the solid black in the stripes and gives this piece a softer look. The artist Haylee from Anchorage, Alaska, thrives at Blackwork and Bllack and Gray and I think she did a fantastic job at capturing this lionfish add-on to her client’s sleeve.
Three Black and Gray Floating Seahorses Tattoo
Seahorses are a popular animal to get tattooed and I don’t blame people for liking them; just look at how weird and wonderful they are. These three black and gray tattoos take up a good amount of space on the elbow and complement the original work around them. The attention to detail created by the shading is amazing and the addition of white highlights add that final touch these pieces deserve. Another stellar job by the artist Haylee.
Blackwork Humpback Whale Tattoo With a Splash of Orange
This gorgeous humpback whale tattoo was the perfect addition to this client’s arm. The placement on the outer forearm allows it to be shown off and easily admired.
What I really love about it is the orange circle; it breaks away from the black and gray and truly makes the whale stand out. The addition of the white highlights gives it a wet look; something you would expect to see on a sea creature.
Realistic Black and Gray Sea Turtle Tattoo on Top of Forearm
If I didn’t know that this was a tattoo, I would have thought it was a grayscale photograph. This South Korean artist truly showcased her shading skills with this realistic black and gray sea turtle piece. It stands out beautifully from the original work because it’s a lot lighter in comparison. The shape of the design is ideal for its placement at the top of the forearm and I love the fact that it looks like you could reach out and pet the turtle.
Feminine Watercolor Orca Thigh Tattoo
Thigh tattoos are a great area to get something big and beautiful, and that’s exactly what this French artist gave his client. The flowers have a sketch element to them and offer a feminine touch to this piece. Don’t get me started on how amazing the color palette is. The pink, yellow, orange and blue blend so well together, and the way the artist has transitioned the black to dark blue in the whale is executed perfectly. Using the client’s skin as the white of the orca was a genius idea as the artist would not need to pack a lot of white in.
Blackwork Octopus Biceps Tattoo
What makes this tattoo a true work of art is the varying styles used to shade it. Not only is there Blackwork, but there are elements of Dotwork, Black and Gray, and Illustration, I think the artist did a really good job at bringing all of these styles together. The design fits flawlessly on the biceps while also allowing enough space for additional tattoos in the future. I hope the client decides to create an entire sea animal-themed sleeve; they’re already off to a great start.
Realistic Whale Shark Forearm Tattoo
Despite their enormous size, whale sharks are actually very docile and are often seen as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Perhaps getting one tattooed might bring good luck. What I can say for sure is that the client hit the jackpot; and artist Sui from South Korea absolutely nailed this realistic whale shark tattoo. Putting this design on the outer forearm was a great choice. The size and form flow well with the shape of the client’s arm and it works with the existing tattoos.
Floating Dolphins With Blue Sky Tattoo
I love micro realistic tattoos; you can put them almost anywhere and they will look good. This adorable tattoo is well-done thanks to the skill of the artist and her ability to use various color tones to create a chromatic effect. What brings the dolphins out even more is the bright blue sky in the background. I also enjoy the fact that there are no solid lines making it look like this tattoo was pasted onto the client’s skin.
Soft Pastel Watercolor Jellyfish Tattoo
The soft shades of blue, purple, and yellow add a touch of femininity to this tattoo. There are varying elements in this design that add to its uniqueness but the fine lines and pretty jewel are what makes this tattoo pop.
Japanese Killer Whale Tattoo
I love how this Killer Whale was turned into a gorgeous Japanese-style tattoo. The solid black is packed perfectly and the line work in the waves is crisp. Adding the gray background stayed true to the style and really brings the whale to the foreground. I think the artist did a wonderful job with this sea animal tattoo.
Watercolor Whale and Manta Ray Calf Tattoo
You know a tattoo is good when it doesn’t need any shading to make an impression. The lines are smooth and consistent in terms of width and heaviness but what truly makes it stand out is the phenomenal Watercolor. This piece looks like a drawing and tattooing it on the calf was a great idea as this design fits the area well.
A Color-Realistic Kraken Tattoo on Chest
Where do I begin with this tattoo? There is so much detail from the tentacles to the ripped sails of the ship; the artist really outdid himself. That menacing eye of the Kraken just under the water is enough to make anyone terrified of the ocean. I love the fact that the colors are all very dark and add to the eerie feeling of this piece. Your eye is immediately drawn to the focal point, the Kraken, but in order to get the full image you would have to step back to take it all in.
Micro-Realistic Orca Tattoo
This micro-realistic orca tattoo is something to behold. Not only did the Taiwanese artist capture the beautiful rays of sunlight as they would appear in real life but also incorporated an x-ray feel by adding the tail bones. The wispy watercolor strokes make it appear as though the orca is swimming against a current. Overall, the artist did a fantastic job and even more so with the choice of placement on the biceps.
Ankle Watercolor Turtle Tattoo With Trident And Script
Watercolor is a popular style when doing sea animal tattoos and it makes sense because sea creatures live in water. The sketchy style works so well with the bright splashes of color and I absolutely adore the addition of the map in the turtle’s shell.
Imperivm Neptvni Regis is Latin for “the empire of king Neptune,” making the addition of the trident extremely relevant. This beautiful turtle tattoo was custom designed by the talented artist Ahm Astaphan straight out of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Blue Whale Fineline Tattoo over Ribs
True to the Fineline style, this sea animal tattoo not only incorporates fine lines but also lacks color. I really enjoy how the artist, Aon, used soft Dotwork to shade this piece. The design is ideal for the ribs or stomach. I feel as though the artist created a beautiful piece of art and executed it wonderfully both in style and placement.
Delightful Micro Pastel Jellyfish Tattoo
This tiny jellyfish tattoo is absolutely adorable, and the colors suit the skin tone of the client so well. The little sparkles and jewel add to the cuteness of this design and make it an ideal piece for anyone wanting a feminine-looking jellyfish.
Black and Gray Mandala Turtle Tattoo over Biceps
Mandalas are a beautiful addition to anyone’s ink collection, and the best part about them is that they are neither masculine nor feminine. The fact that the artist turned a turtle design into a mandala is brilliant. A great piece with consistent, smooth lines and soft pepper shading; an excellent job done by the artist.
Simple Watercolor Octopus Tattoo
Another Watercolor piece that requires minimal shading to make a great impression. This tattoo incorporates so many elements of different styles. While not entirely a sketch piece, the elements are present such as the lines between the tentacles and overlapping strokes at the top of the octopus. Using different line weights adds depth to this tattoo; good job on the artist’s part. The green and blue color splashes complement each other so well. I adore this piece.
Wispy Blue Jellyfish Tattoo
If you’re ever in Taipei, Taiwan and looking to get a gorgeous wispy tattoo, look no further. The artist did an amazing piece on this client’s arm. Using color to shade creates a soft velvety appearance and the lack of solid lines makes it look almost realistic. I would love to see how this tattoo holds up over time.
Black and Gray Sea Turtle With Flowers Tattoo
What a well-executed tattoo! The Blackwork shading creates a lovely contrast against the blue streaks of color while the soft shading in the flowers forms a balance between the darkness of the turtle and the rest of the tattoo. A great design for the biceps as it doesn’t wrap around, so no part of it is hidden.
Big Watercolor Jellyfish Leg Tattoo
Here’s something completely different for you. This abstract jellyfish tattoo has so much going on, from blackout to negative spacing to Watercolor and fine lines. The artist took all of these elements and turned them into a masterpiece. It complements the shape of the client’s leg and is definitely a show-stopper.
Enchanting Neo Traditional Dagger and Shark Tattoo
The colors in this tattoo are stunning. Using different shades of blue separates the shark from the dagger and adds a lovely contrast. Don’t you just love how the dagger looks like it belongs to a mermaid? This French artist loves doing cute tattoos and this one is no different. I feel like the tattoo looks slightly off-center, but it could be the way the client is twisting their arm.
Mythical Black and Gray Koi Fish Tattoo
Does this Koi fish not remind you of a dragon? The artist really showed off their shading skills and did a fantastic job at adding texture to the scales. Using whip shading was a good choice as it works well with this design.
Lotus and Koi Pond Tattoo on Upper Forearm
The way the tattoo wraps around the forearm and creates a band is my favorite part of this piece. This is one of those tattoos that I imagine gives off a tranquil vibe whenever the client looks down at it.
Minimalist Cuttlefish Ankle Tattoo
Minimalist tattoos are great for small and simple designs such as this one. The line work in this tattoo is smooth and the solid black has been packed well. This cuttlefish is definitely not about to swim off anytime soon.
Swimming Stingray Micro Realism Tattoo
Stingrays symbolize maneuverability, making them wonderful sea animals to have etched on your body forever. The way these are placed makes it look like they’re swimming up the client’s leg. I enjoy the mix of solid colors transitioning into a softer shade. A well-executed tattoo by a very talented artist.
Softly Shaded Jellyfish Forearm Tattoo
A polka dot jellyfish! What could be cuter? The soft shading blends so well with the client’s skin, but the best part is the perfect dots and crisp lines in the tentacles. Adding the solid black spots creates a gorgeous contrast between the soft shading and the darker areas of this tattoo.
Orange Old School Koi Fish Tattoo
Traditional style tattoos often depict animals and a well-known one is the Koi. The orange brings this piece to life; it’s vibrant and complements the turquoise in the fins. Like any Old School tattoo, the thick solid lines are what make it a true traditional piece of art.
Cute Feminine Sea Critters Tattoo
What I love most about this tattoo is how feminine it is. From the colors to the actual design, the mix between realism and illustration blends well together. The shape of the heart suits the size of the client’s arm, and I’m sure the client was over the moon about their adorable tattoo.
New School Colorful Goldfish Tattoo
I love how the eyes of this goldfish are bulging; it gives it a cartoonish look while still keeping to the style of New School mixed with a hint of Neo Traditional. The color blending is smooth and the palette and placement truly suit the design.
Gold and Black Micro Realistic Koi Tattoo
The forearm seems to be a popular place to get inked, and I think it was an excellent choice to place it here. Irae, the artist from Seoul created a golden metallic look by blending various shades of yellow. The white highlights add shimmer to the Koi’s body. Overall the artist absolutely killed it!
Simplistic Jellyfish Tattoo on Forearm
As simple as this tattoo is, the subtle shading in the head or ‘bell’ of the jellyfish gives it a realistic touch. The long and fine tentacles flow as they would underwater, and the layout of the design fits the shape of the forearm flawlessly. Placing it here was a great idea because the forearm is a nice flat surface that experiences minimal to no distortion.
Shades of Blue Watercolor Koi and Bamboo Tattoo
It’s magical how using one color in various shades can create something as beautiful as this. The fine lines add a softness to this tattoo and blends well with the watercolor style. Adding the black draws your eyes to the Koi; making it the focal point of this piece. The general shape of bamboo made it an ideal design for the flatness of a leg.
Fineline Micro Realistic Whale Shark Forearm Tattoo
Once again, another sea animal tattoo that has more than one noticeable style. As much as this is a Fineline tattoo, the shading underneath the whale shark creates a 3D effect while an element of realism is also present. The artist has a good grip on Linework, but the smaller circles are very light, I hope they hold during the healing period.
Octopus Gripping a Skull Calf Tattoo
The Blackwork on this octopus is very picturesque and even more so with the contrasting areas of soft gray shading. Incorporating the skull into this design was pretty badass as it sends somewhat of a menacing message; don’t mess with this guy or you’re next! Only joking, but just look at that crazy eye this octopus is giving, I wouldn’t take him on.
Feminine Fineline Watercolor Sea Turtle and Lotus Tattoo on Thigh
Another stunning Watercolor tattoo that displays various elements including Ornamental, Sketch, and Dotwork. The thigh is a lovely area to get something of this size inked. This design is surprisingly divided by one half of the turtle made up of sketchy lines and the other half, smooth and realistic. You wouldn’t notice it straight away but that’s what makes this tattoo so unique; all the varying features you would only detect if you stared at it for long enough.
Spectacular Turtle and Gramophone Calf Tattoo
It’s clear that the artist was inspired by trash polka, and while this tattoo doesn’t fully embody the technique because there are no red or blue strokes of color, the wispy splash of black ink and realistic turtle gives the impression that the artist may have been inspired by the style. A beautiful abstract piece that both client and artist can be proud of.
Fineline Watercolor Whale Tattoo
I’ve not seen something quite like this before. The way the artist uses fine lines to create a whale out of waves almost reminds me of a fingerprint. As simple as it appears, there’s a lot to love about this piece. There are no solid lines but it’s so well done that you’re able to immediately make out that it’s a whale. What a captivating tattoo!
Fineline Black and Gray Fish and Floral Forearm Tattoo
Tattoos that incorporate flowers and velvety shading always remind me of feminine energy. There is a lot going on here making it difficult to tell where the focal point is. However, the line work is smooth and the shading is soft and well blended. The artist did a good job but I feel this tattoo could have been a lot better if it weren’t so crowded.
Color Realism Half-Sleeve Octopus Tattoo
One thing is for certain, this tattoo is extraordinarily vibrant and the detail in the octopus skin and tentacles is beyond words. The yellow and green complement each other because they are colors easily found in nature, while the flow of the design was made for the shape of the client’s arm. Kudos to the artist for designing and executing this phenomenal color realism tattoo.
Unique Seal and Mermaid Tattoo
Mermaids are one of my favorite mythical creatures, however, this is not your typical mermaid, this is a sealmaid. The fine lines and delicate shading suit this design well. I really like how the artist shaded the fish making them appear to be in the background. Don’t you just adore the fact that it looks like the mermaid and seal are dancing with each other? If you love mermaids or seals or both, then this tattoo is for you.
Neo Traditional Inspired Fish Caught in a Rope Tattoo
Usually Neo Traditional tattoos lack bright colors but this one has no color at all The Australian artist, Justine, is fond of the style and created a stellar tattoo. Her lines are solid and using various line weights is typical of the style. The shading is nice and consistent. If you’re looking for a really cool Neo Traditional fish design, look no further.
Fineline Dolphin and Crescent Moon Tattoo
This Korean artist specializes in Fineline tattoos and while fine lines often give off a feminine feel, this tattoo has a touch of masculinity due to the arrow. There’s a nice contrast in the moon as the artist used darker shading. However, I feel like there’s a lot going on here so your eyes are all over the place but that doesn’t mean it’s a poorly done tattoo.
Realistic Octopus Holding An Anchor Tattoo
Have you ever seen such amazing detail in a tattoo before? This half-sleeve is absolutely breathtaking. The rays of light in the sky are a superb touch. I can’t stop staring at the highlights in the chain. There are so many things to look at in this tattoo and I wonder what it’s going to look like when it’s healed. I hope the detail is still as prevalent.
Simplistic Fineline Shell Tattoo on Forearm
What would a sea animal tattoo list be if it didn’t include at least one shell design? This may be a simplistic tattoo but there is great detail and the line work is sensational. It’s amazing what an artist can do to bring a tattoo into reality. Placing it on the forearm allows it to be seen easily, and if I were this client, I would want to show it off all the time.
Fineline Nautilus Wrist Tattoo
The nautilus is a mollusk closely related to squid and cuttlefish and symbolizes growth, expansion, and renewal. Perhaps the client knew this when getting it inked. The tattoo suits the wrist well and the shading technique in the stripes is very clever. What’s amazing about this tattoo is the fact that it already looks healed, perhaps a good sign that it will hold nicely over time.
Adorable Watercolor Turtle Tattoo
This turtle is adorable because it honestly looks like it’s judging you. The soft Watercolors blend flawlessly and using color gradients in the shell was a beautiful artistic touch. Overall the colors, line work, and placement of the tattoo were well done and I’m sure the client was very happy with their new addition.
Micro Color Realism Whale Shark and Diver Tattoo
At first glance, you don’t really notice the little diver under the whale shark; but it’s a pleasant surprise when you see it. The shape of the Watercolor creates the illusion that the whale is swimming forward, while the negative space circles look like a light flare you would capture in a photo. I applaud the artist for doing a great job of capturing a lovely underwater scene.
Black & Gray Whale Tattoo
The style of shading used on this tattoo is known as whip-shading, also known as pepper shading. While definitely not dotwork, you can see how this shading method creates the look of many dots of varying sizes.
Technicalities aside, this is another beautiful tattoo that came out of our shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Black and Gray Manta Ray Leg Tattoo
The way the manta rays are swimming happily up the client’s leg brings me a lot of joy. They look like they’re having a lot of fun and I’m sure the artist had just as much fun doing them. Great placement and even better execution. This is an ideal tattoo for anyone looking for something small that takes up a nice amount of space.
Blackwork Octopus Forearm Tattoo
Does this octopus not look like it’s made out of cracked marble? I like the Blackwork under its body as it gives off a 3D effect which is really cool. The only criticism I have is the tentacle that looks like it’s coming out of the bottom of the octopus. Other than that, it’s an awesome design.
Simple Fineline Shark Tattoo
I’m not entirely sure what shark this is but what I am sure of is the fact that it’s too cute for words. The placement is a bit random as there is so much space around it but that was probably the client’s choice. Still, the lines are good and stay true to the Fineline style.
Galaxy Manta Ray Thigh Tattoo
There is so much going on in this tattoo, and I absolutely love it! The mix of styles really blends well together. Who would have thought Maori and space could be in one tattoo? Adding the tiny fish was a lovely idea as it gives this piece direction and creates the idea that the manta ray is leading them forward.
Color Realistic Sea Animal Full-Sleeve Tattoo
Finally, as they say, leave the best for last. This color realism sleeve is to die for. Not only does it have real sea animals, but it also incorporates a silhouette of a mermaid adding a feminine touch. The shark and turtle look as though you could touch them and the addition of the water reflection on the turtle’s shell brings this underwater tattoo to life. I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and found some amazing ideas for your next tattoo!