This post was originally published on the Shutterstock blog and has been reprinted with permission. Sarah Maloy is Shutterstock’s content marketing manager. She’s also an entertainment writer, social-media nerd, and chronic binge-watcher. 

We look at so many gorgeous images every day that it takes something really unique to make us stop and say, “Whoa.” For me, that “wow” moment came while exploring images of sharks (because of Shark Week, of course), when I came across a series of larger-than-life waves by Zacarias Pereira da Mata.

The Portuguese photographer is just one of many who document the beauty of the ocean, capturing terrifying-but-fascinating images of waves exploding onto shores, piers and lighthouses. Many of the photos were taken at harbors around Portugal, particularly on the Douro river, which runs through both Portugal and Spain. In one image, the contributor even wrote a caption describing winds up to 150 km per hour.

Below, you can further explore a dramatic collection of images. Each photograph shows an enorm

ous wave frozen in time — some look like fluffy clouds; others look like pillars of smoke; and a few even appear to be explosions beneath the ocean’s surface.

Waves 1Sea storm at the mouth of the Douro River by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

Waves 2Ten meter waves in Porto Lighthouse by Bruno Ismael Silva Alves

Waves 3Wave at the entrance of Douro Harbor River at dawn by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

Waves 4Big wave against a lighthouse in the north of Portugal by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

Waves 5High wave breaking on the rocks of the coastline by Peter Wollinga

waves 6Waves on a stormy, overcast evening in Portugal by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

static.squarespace-6Storm waves over the beacon of Portugal’s Douro Harbor by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

waves 8Dramatic wave during stormy weather by Marafona

waves 9Stormy waves crashing over the Portuguese coast by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

waves 10Old lighthouse during a winter storm sunset by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

waves 11Sea storm on a sunny day by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

waves 12Waves on the harbor of Povoa do Varzim, Portugal by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

waves 13Storm waves over the Douro River lighthouse by Zacarias Pereira da Mata

Top image: First big storm of the year at the Douro River by Zacarias Pereira da Mata