Subnautica Sea Emperor Guide

Subnautica Sea Emperor Guide

Latest posts by Arthur Monteclar (see all)

Subnautica is a game that feeds on your fear of large creatures in the ocean. Like the famous quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

If you have played Subnautica before, you know the feeling of looking into the dark depths and finding something looking back at you. Next thing you know, a huge Ghost Leviathan lets out a mighty roar and chases your Cyclops.

Maybe you think I am exaggerating when I say that the size of these creatures is terrifying. Let me put you in the right perspective; a Reaper Leviathan can reach 55 meters. On Earth, the blue whale, i.e., the largest creature ever, measures up to 30 meters.

The Reaper Leviathan is not even the biggest sea predator down there. It does not come close to the largest one, the Sea Emperor Leviathan. Thankfully, though, this behemoth is not aggressive like the rest of them.

If you are curious about this magnificent gentle giant, this Subnautica Sea Emperor guide will teach you all about the Sea Emperor, like its appearance, the quest it gives you, and more.

sea emperor

Bottom Line Up Front

Subnautica’s Sea Emperor is the biggest living entity on Planet 454B during the game’s story. You can find the last one in the Primary Containment Facility’s Aquarium at the Lava Lakes.

To escape the planet, the protagonist must first cure themselves of the Khaara virus, and the Sea Emperor can give the cure if he helps hatch its eggs. After helping it in its mission, it starts to die.

The Sea Emperor is responsible for keeping the planet alive by training smaller animals to carry the cure across the map. It was captivated by ancient aliens a thousand years before the game’s story and was 2,600 years old before dying.

What Is the Sea Emperor in Subnautica?

The Sea Emperor in Subnautica is the planet’s largest living animal and belongs to the class of Leviathan fauna. Unlike the other (scary) Leviathans in Subnautica, the Sea Emperor is not aggressive toward the protagonist.

The Sea Emperor is highly intelligent and capable of telepathic communication. Throughout the game, it will telepathically talk to Ryley.

Their biology makes them immune to the Kharaa virus, a highly infectious disease that has killed most of the planet’s fauna and flora. The one in the game is the last living creature of its kind because their food source died rapidly from the infection.

Like Earth’s whales, the Sea Emperor eats micro-organisms through water filtration. The last living Sea Emperor lived for over 2600 years, surpassing its natural lifespan. It was held captive when it was 1600 years old by ancient aliens known as The Precursors to research a cure for the Khaara virus.

subnautica sea emperor

What Does the Sea Emperor Look like in Subnautica?

The Sea Emperor is a 200-meter-long marine creature with a thick, armor-like, brown body, two forelimbs, and a rear consisting of several tentacles. Its arms have elbow joint and resemble the paddles that sea turtles use to swim.

It has seven tentacles, with one being larger than the rest. These tentacles’ tips are blue and club-like, with numerous suction cups. The suction cups are bioluminescent, making them glow in the dark. These glowing body parts are cyan similar to the Sea Emperor’s eyes.

Its head has four glowing, cyan eyes, a small mouth with two big mandibles, two antennae with yellow, bright lures, and two horns that resemble a hammerhead shark’s weird head. The lure is similar to an angler fish’s, which glows yellow. Along with its tentacles, its cyan eyes shine brightly in the darkness.

Where Is the Sea Emperor in Subnautica?

The Sea Emperor is in an aquarium within an alien base known as the Primary Containment Facility. This building is located within the Lava Lakes, the deepest biome in the game and a perilous and hot home to the equally dangerous Sea Dragon Leviathan.

You need a Blue Tablet to disable the Primary Containment Facility’s gates. You may use the one you can find in the Alien Thermal Plant or make one through the Fabricator using an Ion Cube and two Kyanites.

Before You Visit the Sea Emperor

To get there, I recommend bringing your Cyclops and Prawn Suit. Furthermore, the Cyclops must have its MK3 Depth Module installed to let it reach the Lava Lakes. Meanwhile, the Prawn Suit must have its MK2 Depth Module installed too.

I recommend installing the following modules: Thermal Reactor, Fire Suppression, Sonar, and Shield Generator. You can install an Engine Efficiency Module to lower power consumption or the Creature Decoy Tube Module to repel aggressive monsters.

The first two modules consider the hot biome, the third one is necessary for safer and easier navigation, and the fourth one helps you protect your vehicle from damage (which is very likely to happen).

You can opt not to bring the Sea Moth since it is unusable in the Inactive Lava Zone and Lava Lakes. However, you can use it on most areas of the Lost River and the other biomes above it.

subnautica prawn suit

How to Get to the Sea Emperor

The Lava Lakes is connected to the Inactive Lava Zone, and the latter has two entry points. However, both entrances are in the Lost River, specifically the Tree Cove to the east and the Mountains Corridor to the west.

To reach the Lost River, you can enter through the Deep Grand Reef, Northern Blood Kelp Zone, the area near the Bulb Zone and Mountains, and Blook Kelp Trench.

What Is the Sea Emperor’s Quest in Subnautica?

The Sea Emperor’s quest for you revolves around visiting it in the Primary Containment Facility’s aquarium, activating the portal to the Quarantine Enforcement Platform, and hatching its eggs through the incubator.

Shortly after completing its quest, it will give you Enzyme 42, the cure for the Kharaa virus. It starts to slowly die since it is an ancient being surpassing its average life span.

First Telepathic Message

Before you meet it, the Sea Emperor initiates contact telepathically three times. Its first telepathic message happens an hour after failing to deactivate the Quarantine Enforcement Platform on the Mountain Island biome.

It also happens after visiting the Disease Research Facility, another alien base you can find in the Lost River. Whichever of the two milestones happens first triggers the message.

Its first message is a simple question of what you are, indicating that you may be the first human being it has contacted. Other human beings arrived on the planet before you, e.g., the Degasi Crew, but it may not have detected them because they did not try to perform the specified milestones.

However, one of the crew members, Bart Torgal, commented that he has been receiving visions as he nears his deathbed. It may be possible that the visions are the Sea Emperor’s attempts to contact him, but he was unable to.

1st telepathic message

Second Telepathic Message

The second telepathic message from the Sea Emperor happens when you successfully acquire a Blue Tablet. You can find it in the Alien Thermal Plant, the smallest alien base in the game, located in the Inactive Lava Zone.

To enter this alien base, you need at least one Purple Tablet to unlock the Blue Tablet. You can find many Purple Tablets in the Mountain Island biome and its caves. You can also make one using an Ion Cube and two Diamonds via the Fabricator. Be sure to scan the Purple Tablet first to unlock the recipe.

Once you have the Blue Tablet, the Sea Emperor will telepathically tell you to come to it. However, the Sea Emperor does not mention where it is.

Third Telepathic Message

The third and final telepathic message arrives when you first enter the Lava Lakes. However, I do not suggest going into the biome without preparing first because it is an extremely hostile environment. I recommend reading the “Before you visit the Sea Emperor” section above.

The Sea Emperor will telepathically tell you that it is what you are looking for. The message is incredibly vague, but in hindsight, you are looking for the Sea Emperor because you are looking for the Khaara virus cure, and the aquatic behemoth is its sole source.

The Sea Emperor will also tell you that it wants to help you, indicating that it has the intelligence to understand concepts of cooperation.

Meeting the Sea Emperor for the First Time

After getting inside the Primary Containment Facility, go to the aquarium and jump into the water. As you land on the platform underwater, the Sea Emperor will emerge from the depths to meet you.

It will again talk to you, asking you if you are in the aquarium to “play.” It comments that other entities came to the planet before and constructed the aquarium and its facility, referring to The Precursors.

However, the Sea Emperor tells you that these aliens kept to themselves, either avoiding communication with the planet’s fauna or being unable to. It comments that The Precursors were boring and are now all gone (due to the Khaara virus).

The Sea Emperor begins to wonder whether you will swim along with the tide or fight your way against it. It further hints that The Precursors did the latter, resulting in their demise. The creature’s curiosity could possibly indicate your willingness to cooperate with it.

all his mighty sea emperor

How to Activate the Incubator Device’s Terminal

After talking with you, it will slowly descend to the depths in circles. Go down to the aquarium’s floor and reach the metallic platform with five large, brown eggs; the eggs are Sea Emperor Eggs, and the platform is the Incubator Device, a tool The Precursors used to keep these eggs alive.

The Sea Emperor will descend in front of you and stare at you once you have reached the Incubator Device. In the middle of the platform is a slot for an Ion Cube; insert one to activate the Alien Data Terminal. The terminal’s main purpose is to insert hatching enzymes for the Incubator Device.

If you do not have an Ion Cube, there are two of them in the aquarium; one is near the portal resting on a pedestal, while the other is in an abandoned cave. I suggest using the Ion Cube in the cave since you might use the other one for the portal later on.

How to Activate the Portal in the Sea Emperor Aquarium

The Sea Emperor will telepathically talk to you again once you have activated the Incubator Device’s terminal. It tells you that its babies want to come out of their eggs and swim in safer waters beyond the Lava Lakes.

The behemoth also comments that it and its eggs have been in captivity for too long. It informs you that there is a way out of the Primary Containment Facility that will lead you to the surface.

The Sea Emperor tells you it tried to ask The Precursors for its freedom, but the aliens could not hear the creature.

Finally, it tells you that if you help them out, it will give you something that The Precursors failed to take, referring to the cure for the Khaara virus. The Sea Emperor will move and head to the portal. Follow it, and you will find the deactivated portal buried in the sand.

The creature will blow air to make the sand disappear and uncover the portal. In front of it is a slot for an Ion Cube, similar to the one found in the Incubator Device. Insert an Ion Cube in it to activate the portal; you can find one nearby on a pedestal.

sea emperor acquarium portal

How to Make the Hatching Enzymes

The Sea Emperor will comment that the portal you activated will allow its babies to leave the base. However, they must first hatch. The creature tells you that The Precursors could not force the secret of hatching the eggs from it, indicating that they could not hatch them themselves using their tech.

The Sea Emperor will give you a blueprint for the Hatching Enzymes. You can leave the base through the portal to begin your search for its components.

To make the Hatching Enzymes, you need:

  • Eye Stalk Seed
  • Fungal Sample
  • Ghost Weed Seed
  • Sea Crown Seed
  • Bulb Bush Sample

The guides below will help you find each component. After collecting all five components, head to a Fabricator and use it to make the Hatching Enzymes.

Where to Get Eye Stalk Seed

You can find plenty of Eye Stalks in deep biomes and caves like the Deep Sparse Reef or Bulb Zone Caves. The Primary Containment Facility has four other portals, and one can lead you to the Crag Field, a biome that also houses Eye Stalks.

Eye Stalks are incredibly easy to spot in the dark because of their yellow, glowing bulbs and purple stems. To get their seeds, slash the plant using a knife.

eye stalk seeds

Where to Get Fungal Sample

Fungal Samples come from the Tree Mushrooms situated in the Mushroom Forest biome. Tree Mushrooms are incredibly large flora with thick trunks and orange mushroom caps. You can slice through one of these caps to get Fungal Sample using your knife.

One of the four portals in the Primary Containment Facility leads to the Mushroom Forest. The Northeastern Mushroom Forest is located near the Aurora’s front side.

Where to Get Ghost Weed Seed

Ghost Weeds grow in the Lost River, a biome 550 to 1000 meters deep. The place is filled with animals that can and will hurt you, like the Ghost Leviathan Juvenile, Spinefish, Mesmer, Warper, and more. Thus, exercise caution in collecting Ghost Weed in this region.

They are abundant here, especially in the Bone Fields, Ghost Forest, and the Mountains Corridor. Their thick stems have a dull, green glow. Like the other seeds, you can harvest the Ghost Weed Seeds by hitting them with your knife.

ghost weed seed

Where to Get Sea Crown Seed

Do not leave the Primary Containment Facility’s aquarium yet, because you can find plenty of Sea Crowns in the area. Otherwise, these plants are difficult to locate. You can look for them in the Grassy Plateau Caves, Bulb Zone, or Jellyshroom Caves.

The Sea Crown has a blue, bladder-shaped part held together by the plant’s stalks. You can cut the plant using your knife to get the Sea Crown Bed.

Where to Get Bulb Bush Sample

Bulb Bush Samples come from Bulb Bushes, and they are easy to find due to their numbers. There are a lot of them in the Bulb Zone, but be careful in the area. There is a couple of harmful fauna in it, like the Ampeel, Boneshark, and Mesmer. However, it is nowhere near as dangerous as the Lost River.

Bulb Bushes have a huge, lumpy, purple sphere with blue bioluminescent orbs sticking out from it. The sphere is attached to the plant’s thick, grey stem, holding it in place on the sandy ground. You can slice through it using a knife to get your Bulb Bush Sample.

Like the other components, you can teleport your way here from the Primary Containment Facility’s portals. The Bulb Zone is near the Crash Zone and Mushroom Forest.

bulb bush sample

How to Hatch the Sea Emperor Eggs

Once you have the Hatching Enzymes, head back to the Incubator Device in the Sea Emperor’s aquarium. Go to its terminal to insert the Hatching Enzymes. After a short while, the eggs will hatch, and the Sea Emperor Juveniles will emerge and swim to their mother.

The Sea Emperor will play with its babies and talk to you again after a while. It will thank you for assisting in hatching its eggs and comment that the babies are heading to the portal to swim in the shallows.

After the Sea Emperor’s death, you can notice small, orange globs floating in the water; it is Enzyme 42, the cure to the Khaara virus. As you touch it, the slime encompasses your hands and heals you from the bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: When does the Sea Emperor talk to you in Subnautica?

Answer: The Sea Emperor will first talk to you through telepathy when you either attempt to disable the planet’s Quarantine Enforcement Platform or reach the Disease Research Facility, whichever comes first.
It will talk to you again after getting the Blue Tablet from the Alien Thermal Plant and upon first entering the Lava Zones. When you meet the Sea Emperor in its aquarium, it will also telepathically communicate with you.

Question: Why did the Sea Emperor die in Subnautica?

Answer: The Sea Emperor dies due to old age. The creature is 2600 years old, and according to the PDA, it has massively outlived its average lifespan. It is heavily implied that the Sea Emperor has continued to live for such a long time to ensure its babies will hatch and live on.
Also, it has used all its strength to live long and ensure that the planet continues to receive Enzyme 42 from it, which is a cure for the Khaara virus. Since the babies have hatched, there are now new creatures capable of producing the cure.

Question: Can you kill the Sea Emperor’s babies in Subnautica?

Answer: No, you cannot kill the Sea Emperor Juveniles in Subnautica. Similarly, you cannot kill the Sea Emperor, although it dies soon after hatching its babies. They are immune to damage, probably due to their significance to the game’s story.


sea emperor juveniles

At first, I was terrified of the Sea Emperor because of its gigantic size. After all, every large creature in this game so far has been incredibly mean and vicious (except for the Reefback Leviathan). However, after meeting and interacting with the Sea Emperor, I realized that it is a gentle giant.

The Sea Emperor is a strong and intelligent creature that has endured many hardships in its long life. It persevered to keep the planet alive because, without it, no one would be alive to continue spreading the cure for the Khaara virus.

Usually, big entities at the end of a game turn out to be the evil boss you have to face. However, the Sea Emperor being a gentle giant, is the opposite.

It survived long enough to see its babies hatch and live on. The Sea Emperor’s death is a sad one but incredibly admirable. I am glad it is part of the story since it really is a clever twist to the stereotype.

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