The piece takes as its inspiration Jacques Derrida’s article ‘Like the Sound of the Sea Deep within a Shell: Paul de Man’s War’ (1988) through which Šimić understands her choice of the sea as her own ‘unforeseeable appeal’, a ‘matter of responding and of taking responsibilities’ (Derrida and Kamuf 1988: 595). The writing is also provoked by Emma Cox and Marilena Zaroulia’s conversation ‘Mare Nostrum, or On Water Matters’ in ‘On Sea/At Sea’ edition of Performance Research which touches on the image of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy, found dead on the beach in Bodrum, Turkey in September 2015. The writing opens with the author’s sense of loss and belonging to her birth country of Yugoslavia explored in her performance work Blood & Soil: we were always meant to meet… (2011, with Jennifer Verson). The piece looks at a series of contemporary artistic responses to the migration crisis and children’s deaths at sea. These include Ai Weiwei’s crude re-enactment of Aylan Kurdi’s death, graffiti artists Justus Becker (a.k.a. Cor) and Oğuz Şen (a.k.a. Bobby Borderline), Khaled Barakeh’s censored photographic images of drowned children on Facebook, Franko B’s carefully carved marble sculpture and the work of British-Iraqi hip-hop artist and political activist Kareem Dennis, better known as Lowkey. The writing closes with a remembering of Jill Greenhalgh’s performance Las Sin Tierra: 7 Attempted Crossings of the Straits of Gibraltar seen at Transit IV: Roots in Transit theatre festival in 2004, Holstebro, Denmark. This article discusses the unforeseeable appeals, many of which include an appropriate sense of failure and shame, when thinking about the sea as artists and academics.