[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sand_is_water.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[Literature/MobyDick I don't give reasons. I give orders!]]]]

->''"Though the cross-section of a rippled sand surface often assumes an outline which closely resembles both the actual cross-section of a disturbed water-air surface and also the graph on a time basis of any simple vibration, the resemblance is in appearance only."''
-->-- '''UsefulNotes/RalphBagnold''', ''The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes''

Water is cool, but how much [[RuleOfCool cooler]] would it be if we replaced it with sand? Rivers, lakes, whirlpools, even whole oceans of sand that behave more or less exactly like a body of water are common in desert settings. Bonus points if ships sail said sandy seas (say that ten times really fast). You will even often find native life swimming in ([[FlyingSeafoodSpecial or above]]) these seas, with everything from Sand Guppies to full-blown {{Sand Worm}}s.

A commonly found type is the sand whirlpool, which works in a similar manner to {{quicksand|Sucks}} in that anyone who steps into one will be quickly pulled down and suffocate.

In a broader sense, this can also apply to when anything solid or semi-solid is treated like water. For instance, while [[PooledFunds swimming in a pool of coins]].

While sand can act like a fluid, it is a non-Newtonian fluid which means it won't act like water. You can stand on it when it is stationary, for example, but not when it is fluidized. [[ViewersAreGeniuses Just about everyone must have seen the experiment]] where you blow air through sand, giving a fluidized bed that behaves like water. It's also extremely abrasive: anything with sand running over it or through it is likely to be scoured down to nothing fairly quickly unless it's harder than quartz, especially if it has mechanical parts. It's also a tad difficult to ''breathe'' sand, whether you attempt it with gills or lungs. But, hey, it's [[RuleOfCool cool enough]] so we can forgive it.

This is often a feature of the ShiftingSandLand or the ThirstyDesert. For another substance that is often treated like funny-looking water, see LavaIsBoilingKoolAid.

Compare SpaceIsAnOcean, TheSkyIsAnOcean. Contrast WaterIsAir.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the manga ''Stone'', this is pretty much what the entire world is like. It isn't ''quite'' "sand" or mud or water, but a combination of the three that pretty much behaves like water. Ships sail on it. Life lives in it, including whales, etc.
* ''Anime/SecretOfCeruleanSand.'' Funny thing about this anime is that if you read the title, you'd think "this is ''[[Anime/NadiaTheSecretOfBlueWater The Secret of Blue Water]]'' [[RecycledInSpace with sand]]" and... yeah, it basically ''is''.
* The ''Manga/{{Area 88}}'' manga features a desert aircraft carrier: an aircraft carrier on tracks that can ''submerge itself in the sand'' and move around 'underwater.' It doesn't dive like a submarine, though; it pumps sand up to bury itself. It also has a few problems with overheating.
* In ''Anime/ZoidsNewCentury'', the aquatic [[HumongousMecha Zoid]] War Shark got the ability to swim through sand as well.
* The terrain of the desert world of ''Anime/ProjectAKO: Blue Side/Grey Side'' seems to shift from sand to water at the whim of the writers and animators.
* Most incarnations of ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' have at least one "[[MilitaryMashupMachine Land Battleship]]" that behaves like a seagoing ship, only in the desert. The biggest offender is probably Kazuhisa Kondo's manga adaptation of the original ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', in which the Federation's Big Tray class, a futuristic giant hovercraft/tank thing in the original has been completely redesigned to look like a naval ship & features prominently throughout the "Earth-Arc", "sailing" around a desertified Eastern Europe (possibly justified as being actual naval ships that had simply been retrofitted with amphibious capability, but it's still a bloody silly thing to do).
** ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED Gundam SEED]]'' attempts a justification by saying the sand-ships use a "scale system", where the vibrations of micro-scales propel the ship in the same fashion as a fish's fins. Naturally, it works just as well underwater.
* ''Anime/HeroicAge'' in the first episode features a squid-like creature that lives in the sand (though it can also hover above the ground) and has the main character dive into the sand to wrestle it underground.
* Gaara from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' effortlessly controls sand, and with moves like "Sand Drizzle" and "Sand Waterfall", it's obvious that sand is water for him.
* Played straight in ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' when Sakura and Syaoran are attacked by "The Sand" card whose main power appears to be this trope, even creating a sand whirpool!
* Used during the Alabasta arc of ''Manga/OnePiece'' where Luffy comes across pirates whose ships can travel on the desert for some reason. There is an attempted justification, at least in the English Dub, writing it off as the wind pushes their sails across similar to blowing a paper craft across a smooth surface. However, sand is very far from a smooth surface and should abrade the ships down to nothing over time.
** Senor Pink of the Donquixote Pirates takes this UpToEleven, as his Devil Fruit allows him to swim through any solid surface. Ironic when you remember that the Devil Fruits' main common weakness is SuperDrowningSkills.
* Sand ships and sand dolphins can be purchased in the ridiculously advanced future of ''Anime/{{Doraemon}}''; in one NonSerialMovie, Nobita and company discover that Sinbad the Sailor (of the Literature/ArabianNights) was the beneficiary of such gifts from a grateful time traveling tourist who'd got stranded in the desert and saved by Sinbad.
* The ''Anime/SandsOfDestruction'' anime had this. Falling into sand made splashing noises, there were rowboats and motorboats that moved through sand like water, and a pair of apples were once seen falling into the sand...then acting like they were floating downriver. Taken UpToEleven with a sand ocean... and a boat that docks from the sand ocean to the sand beach. There's also a sand submarine whose engines somehow don't clog, and sand jellyfish (which look like ordinary water jellyfish) and sand whales (which look like giant sea serpents) also live in the sand sea. The [[Manga/SandsOfDestruction manga]] played it a bit more realistically, with humans being capable of walking on the surface of the sand sea, but the snake-like sand whales still swim in it freely and humans typically use boats to get around on it because they're more efficient than walking.
* The [[CoolBoat Bardanos]] in Leiji Matsumoto's ''Anime/{{Ozuma}}'' could create a field that made sand behave exactly like water, allowing the ship to submerge like a submarine.
* The ''Anime/ProjectAKo'' OAV ''Uncivil Wars'', a mercenary trying to kidnap C-Ko has a craft that travels through sand like a submarine. B-Ko even use depth charges to attack the craft.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Sub Girl, part of the Tank Girl, Jet Girl and Sub Girl trifecta from the ''ComicBook/TankGirl'' comics, pilots a submarine that sometimes travels underneath the desert sand.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Lanfeust}} of the Stars'', a planet has oceans of sand due to a strong planetary magnetic field (that also prevents spacecraft from entering the atmosphere anywhere but at the poles). Bonus points for having ships hunting sand-whales -- including [[Literature/MobyDick a giant white one]].

* ''Film/TankGirl''
** Lori Petty takes a shower while in the Water & Power prison. In sand. Mmm.
** "Rain Lady" corresponds to the character "Sub Girl" from the comics, and plows her submarine through the desert for the ''FinalBattle''!
* In the first ''Film/{{Tremors}}'' movie, the survivors find themselves stranded on a rock "island" surrounded by Graboid "sharks".
* In ''Film/MontyPythonsTheMeaningOfLife'', the elderly chartered accountants in ''The Crimson Permanent Assurance'' sail across the desert in a piratized brownstone office building.
--> "It's fun to charter an accountant / And sail the wide accountant-sea. / To find, explore, the funds off-shore / and skirt the shoals of bankruptcy! / It can be manly in insurance; / We'll up your premiums semi-annually. / It's all tax-deductible; / We're fairly in-corruptible; / We're sailing on a wide accountant-sea!"
* The kids' film ''Film/MagicIsland'' featured a sand shark -- which could be thwarted by feeding it ''bubble gum''.
* ''Film/ThePrincessBride'' has this. In the novel it's simply so lightly packed that you fall into it like it's not there.
* The avalanche in ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' is more Snow Is Water. Which, well, [[CaptainObvious it is]], though it doesn't usually behave ''exactly'' like it.
* The horror movie ''Film/SandSharks'' actually does make mention of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_shark real creatures sand tiger sharks]]. But of course, they are actually talking about a prehistoric version that can swim through sand.
* Played with in ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanAtWorldsEnd'', when the crew arrives at the titular location looking for Jack and find him standing triumphantly on the ''Pearl'' as it sails over a sand dune- only to discover it's being carried by thousands of little sand crabs.
* Invoked in ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfTintin''. Tintin and Captain Haddock are in a desert when Haddock tells Tintin about his ancestor as he looks out over the sand dunes. Cue a virtually seamless transition between the dunes and a ship sailing on the ocean waves.

* ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'''s sandworms swam through the deserts like they were water. The sandworms also generated intense heat and triggered some extremely powerful electromagnetic storms from all the friction.
** Played even straighter with tidal dust basins, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin basins of dust so deep they have tides]], which an unwary traveler can wander into and die.
** Shortly after the Atreides' arrival on Arrakis, one House soldier declares his readiness for a nice hot shower, only to be told that he'll have to make do with sand.
** In TheFilmOfTheBook 'Children of Dune', James [=McAvoy=] discovered that sand is most definitely NOT water (see 2:28 - 3:05 of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnmVKEKjEMw this interview]]).
* In Creator/MichaelMoorcock's ''Literature/EternalChampion'' series, Ulrik (an incarnation of Elric) sails upon an ocean of salt. His boat is normal but pulled by two very large serpent-like creatures.
* In Creator/RayBradbury's ''Literature/TheMartianChronicles'', Martians had sand ships.
* Meredith Ann Pierce's ''Literature/TheDarkangelTrilogy'' had a Sea of Dust, over which the heroine sails a skiff in the second book. It's even got fisherfolk, whales, and sea serpents.
* Creator/ArthurCClarke's ''A Fall of Moondust'' is based on the idea that some lunar basins are filled with very fine dust that behaves like a liquid in the moon's relatively weak gravitational field. Clarke accounts for some differences, by the way -- the moonship ''Selene'' glides atop the dust, not really swims in it. Probably some smaller details are unrealistic, but we know that real moon dust is seemingly unrealistic, too. A case of ScienceMarchesOn.
* Creator/BruceSterling's ''Involution Ocean'' is made of this trope.
* Creator/WilliamGoldman described this in great detail in ''Literature/ThePrincessBride'' and later lampshades the research he did for it in ''The Color Of Light''.
* One of the {{Impossible Task}}s in either Literature/ArabianNights or the Grimm Fairy Tales (or possibly both) is "create a ship that can sail on sand (or land, in the case of Grimm) as on water". The hero usually has to call in the help of [[AWizardDidIt some supernatural creature]] to assist.
* In ''The Road to Oz'', the fifth book of the [[Literature/LandOfOz Oz series]], Dorothy, Toto, Button-Bright, Polychrome, and the Shaggy Man travel across the Deadly Desert to Oz in a "sand boat", which is described as "a sleigh with sails and a rudder".
* Martian sand in Creator/LarryNiven's ''Literature/KnownSpace'' is so finely ground that it behaves like a liquid.
** One history of Larry Niven, also of his ''Literature/KnownSpace'', takes place in a planet covered by sand-like organic compounds (fullerenes) that behave like a liquid and have almost null friction.
* Subverted in 'Demon', the third book of Creator/JohnVarley's ''Literature/GaeaTrilogy''. [[PhysicalGod Gaea]] created a replica of the sandworms from [[Literature/{{Dune}} intercepted earth fiction]], except that the replica barely moves at all; it just sort of sits there on top of the desert. [[LampshadeHanging The characters comment on the physical improbability of something that size moving through sand]].
** But Varley has it both ways, since Gaea also creates a race of monsters made of living glass that swim through the sand of the Tethys desert.
* The Literature/{{Discworld}} has the Great Nef, which is not so much a desert as an ocean of ''dehydrated water''. [[AWizardDidIt This is explicitly described to be a fourth state of water, only attainable in a high thaumic field]]. The desert nomads who live there sail on ships that wouldn't look out of place in the Circle Sea. It's also briefly mentioned to be home to very strange fish.
* According to ''Mandeville's Travels'' (14th century), there is a "Sea of Sand" in India which consists of sand that flows like water, and which has fish that are "different than other fishes" but still edible. There is also a river of rocks flowing into the Sea the Sand.
* Hugh Howey's serial novel Literature/{{Sand}} has divers that use vibration suits to swim through sand and scavenge treasure.
* The Literature/{{Railsea}} is an ocean of sand that you can only cross by train. Dangerous monsters will attack the second you step off the rail.

* UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} can {{walk on water}}. Creator/ChuckNorris can swim through land.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' episode "The Invisible Enemy" had several giant monsters swimming through the sands of Mars, "living in the sand like a shark in the ocean!" (They weren't {{Sand Worm}}s, they had heads and crab claws). The sand sea even had a tide that rose and fell.
* The Series/{{Hercules|TheLegendaryJourneys}} and Series/{{Xena|WarriorPrincess}} series both featured man-eating sand sharks that could do this.
* ''Series/{{Primeval}}'' featured "sand scorpions" that could do this: sometimes there's a visible wake on the surface of the sand, other times there is no trace of their passing, even though they're as big as hippos. They also embody another classic howler in being large carnivores living in a barren desert with no apparent food except visiting humans.

[[folder:Music And Sound Effects]]
* Portishead's "Roads" plays

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', far to the south, near the Pole, people actually have sand ships that are used as transport and in warfare.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' has several examples:
** The Greyhawk setting. The Sea of Dust had "dust lakes" which acted like water, including supporting boats and allowing people to swim through it.
*** In one Greyhawk novel, a group sets out to cross the Sea of Dust, using a ship outfitted with huge inflated wheels. This becomes a subversion when the wheels get punctured by cacti and the ship is left immobile, something that ''wouldn't'' happen on the water.
** D&D also has a monster called the bulette, which is essentially a land shark.
** ''Dungeons and Dragons Abyss'' also has a river of salt... which will dehydrate you and grate you to a paste if you fall in.
** The Dark Sun setting has the Sea of Silt. This is a semi-aversion; although it has enough sea-like characteristics to qualify for the trope (pseudo-sailing vessels, silt-monsters), there are also many notable differences. It's described as essentially a gigantic basin full of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_quicksand dry quicksand]]. In the 4E update of the setting, [[AuthorsSavingThrow it was declared]] that the Sea of Silt is caused by Elemental Chaos leaking through and changing local physics.
** The ''TabletopGame/{{Spelljammer}}'' D&D setting had merfolk native to... you guessed it, sand.
* ''TabletopGame/GammaWorld'' had a landshark which swims through the soil, justified in that it uses innate [[MindOverMatter telekineisis]] to burrow at high speeds.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Talislanta}}'' plays this one fairly straight, with giant sand eels and duneships. Land barges, yet another type of wheeled ship, are a partial subversion, as they're used on flat steppes as well as sand.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Rocket Age}}'s'' Mars has Silt Seas, full of life. Good luck trying to swim in it if you're not evolved to, however, although you can sail ''over'' it.

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' has "The Sea of Liquid Sand." It's technically a sea of quicksand.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs}}'' series has a few of these, which isn't surprising considering they all take place on the mostly-desert world of Filgaia.
** [[VideoGame/WildARMs1 The original]] had Sand River.
** ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs 3}}'' replaced all of the wet oceans with sand oceans. You even get a special boat to sail on these sand oceans later. There was an entire ecosystem living in the sand, mostly fish-like monsters and one BonusBoss SandWorm.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs 4}}'', there is a sand inland sea, which, yes, has ships that sail on it. Somewhat subverted as people are able to stand on this "sandsea." On a cutscene at least.
* The ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' series is also fond of this trope.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', the sand that flows through and down Cleyra acts very much like water. There are even floodgates for it. There are also sand whirlpools here and in one of the deserts, which will pull you under if you step into them.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' has the Ogir-Yensa and Nam-Yensa sandseas, both massive oceans of quicksand. As if to emphasize that point; there are oil rigs which is basically how the heroes crossed the sandseas, and the native Urutan-Yensa traverse the place on giant fishes.
** The Desert of Shifting Sands (or Quicksand Desert) in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'' is essentially a convoluted set of rapids, also featuring a sandworm!
*** ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana'' had a desert like this, too.
** Figaro Castle in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' was able to turn into a sand-submarine and move between two deserts.
** Not to mention in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' has the two Fastitocalon enemies, FISH that not only treated sand as water, but could also do the same with AIR!
** ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'':
*** Lightning can ''surf'' on sand dunes. Oddly, she can do this even when the ground is not sloped enough to facilitate movement. Somewhat justified in that [[GravityMaster manipulating gravity is one of her powers]].
*** Previous games gave us the Sahagin, a (presumably) amphibious animal found next to water. In ''Lightning Returns'' we get the Desert Sahagin, which swims through the sand.
** Taken to its (il)logical extreme in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'', where you can actually 'fish' in sand.
* ''VideoGame/{{NieR}}'' has this in Facade and the desert in general. The sand-surfing mechanic returns in ''VideoGame/NierAutomata'', where 2B and 9S can surf down dunes like nobody's business -- the latter even comments on how slippery the sand is when you first arrive in the desert region ([[spoiler:which, if you do a certain archeology sidequest, is revealed to be located where Facade used to stand, thousands of years AfterTheEnd]]).
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime2Echoes''. The ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' series in general usually replaces water with acid and/or lava.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' features an entire dungeon (Venus Lighthouse) devoted to solving puzzles with this trope. And in ''The Lost Age'', you get a spell that lets you swim under sand (technically, you turn yourself into a sentient, mobile pile of sand). Which you use in the last dungeon to swim through glass panels to avoid a flamethrower.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''
** ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'' (The {{Trope Namer|s}} for ShiftingSandLand)
** Another possibly ridiculous example from ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQbxoOxxNiE Mario Teaches Typing]]'' has Mario do the front stroke swimming through quick sand with a somewhat goofy expression.
** Many subsequent Mario games use the same idea again, for instance Dry Dry Desert in ''VideoGame/MarioKartDoubleDash''.
** Bone-Dry Dunes in ''VideoGame/MarioKart8'' is surrounded by sand, with a crew of Toads on a pirate ship that throws coins onto the track.
** One part of the "Slipsand Galaxy" level from ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2'' had Mario navigate a large river of quicksand on top of a large bird-shaped raft while at the same time avoiding the cacti and Magikoopas dwelling in the quicksand.
* On ''VideoGame/BanjoKazooie'''s sixth level, Gobi's Desert, there are pools of sand that have small waves going across them, almost like boiling water. Obviously, entering these pools without the Wading Boots is hazardous to your health.
* One sidequest in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' features lots of sand currents and sand whirlpools. The characters can walk on the sand, they just won't stay in one place for very long. You access said area by falling through a sand whirlpool.
* ''VideoGame/SecretOfEvermore'' has whirlpools in a sandy area just before the Bugmuck. Which suck you down and then.. spit you back up somewhere else. Weird.
* One of the early areas in ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'' involves a massive desert large enough to have ships "sailing" on it, along with gigantic unseen creatures such as "sand whales" and a "desert remora". The CoolBoat you get is one such sandships, which eventually upgrades to a [[GetOnTheBoat sea vessel]] and an [[GlobalAirship airship]] as the plot progresses. Some attention is actually paid to the technology needed to make the sand-sub work, which can make the scientific inaccuracy more or less JustForFun/{{egregious}} depending on the individual.
* ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIV'' has dragons that can swim through water, including a transparent, worm-like dragon that lives in a sea of mud.
* Any desert of the ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter'' franchise also has at least one kind of monster that swims through sand, such as Cephalos, Delex, and Cephadrome, all of which can swim through sand like dolphins in water. And then there's [[http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100402003834/monsterhunter/images/1/11/JhenMohran.png Jhen Mohran]] and Dah'ren Mohran, two massive monsters who are fought in sand-sailing ships.
* In ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'', bodies of sand and bodies of water interact with the player exactly the same way: like [[SuperDrowningSkills bottomless pits]].
** [[ShiftingSandLand Dusty Desert]] in ''Sonic 2006'' is a rather egregious example, as thanks to [[ObviousBeta its shoddy programming shortcuts]], if you come in contact with ''any'' body of sand, it splashes. And if you happen to let the sand come above a character's ankles, they'll die instantly as if they fell into water.
** Another Sonic example, the Sandopolis Zone in ''VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles'' had sand ''waterfalls'' and sand rivers that you slide down.
** In ''VideoGame/SonicForces'', the rivers and waterfalls in GreenHillZone are replaced with sand due to Dr. Eggman's hostile takeover, [[HailFirePeaks adding some]] ShiftingSandLand [[HailFirePeaks elements to the stage]].
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}''
** The temple in the Haruba Desert in ''VideoGame/PokemonRanger: Shadows of Almia'' has ''a lot'' of sand that acts like water.
** Taken to its logical conclusion with Hippopotas, Hippowdon and the Sandile family; Ground-type sand hippos and sand crocodiles respectively.
* ''VideoGame/NexusWar'' has rivers of ''dust'' in the plane of [[{{Shadowland}} Nifleheim]]. For gameplay purposes they're treated exactly like water. If you can't swim, you'll drown. If you can breathe water through mystical skill or magical potion, you can breathe dust too.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}} Project'''s Moriya Suwako, a mountain goddess, can swim through the earth like water.
* Played around with in ''VideoGame/{{Journey}}''. Sometimes, the sand acts like sand. At other times, you can surf through it like water, and watch it glisten and ripple like water as well. The use of marine animal styles for the "cloth creatures" makes the parallel even stronger.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series likes this trope. Numerous games feature monsters that swim through sand, including but not limited to Leevers, Lanmolas, Moldorms, and (in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'') Malgyorgs. Most of them are worms of some sort, but Malgyorgs are sand-swimming ''sharks''.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' has a giant river of sand flowing through the desert.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames Oracle of Seasons]]'' has a small desert with sand whirlpools and a half-buried pirate ship. One of the major quests is to get the ship unburied and back out to sea.
** ''Oracle of Ages'' has a mole miniboss who does this, attacking from underneath with its drill-nose. Fortunately, it's completely helpless aboveground when dug up.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' fourth dungeon, Arbiter's Grounds, not only features sinking sand but has sand whirlpools. A sand whirlpool also features in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'' on a single screen of the [[ShiftingSandLand Yarna Desert]].
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' pulls it off, and it's even justified because you're using [[spoiler: crystals that revert their surroundings to their past state. Most of the desert was once an ocean]].
*** Played straight, however, with a scorpion the size of a bus that can instantly burrow itself in the sand and move around, which you unbury with a reverse vacuum cleaner.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'', on top of the Molduga enemy that acts as a fast SandWorm in the Gerudo Desert, there are also Sand Seals, walrus-like beasts of burden that swim through sand like it is water.
* In ''VideoGame/SandsOfDestruction'', the entire world is basically composed of islands in the middle of an ocean of sand. There are some lakes and sea, but players would be given the impression of ''more'' sand.
* Several enemies in the ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' series fit here. But the most appropriate is the 'sand shark' from the first game. Walking, chomping shark heads that pop up and [[EverythingTryingToKillYou try to eat you]] when you get close enough.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Klonoa}} 2: Lunatea's Veil,'' you can surf on sand with the surfboard [[spoiler: after the Sea of Tears has been dried up.]] The failed physics is corrected somewhat when you account for a floating board.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Darksiders}}'', a giant desert exists populated by absolutely enormous {{sand worm}}s swimming easily through it. Strangely, War sinks hip deep into this stuff and his movement slows to a crawl but can run atop it when mounted on his giant horse Ruin...
* The sand sharks in ''VideoGame/{{Bubsy}}'' serve as NightmareFuel.
* In ''VideoGame/ShadowOfTheColossus'', there are two colossi that swim through sand. One essentially behaves like a large sand dwelling snake, whereas the other one actually flies, but when first encountered, is living in the sand, and breeches like a whale.
* Apparently, most Zerg units from ''VideoGame/StarCraft'' can swim through any material (including steel), not just sand, though they cannot actually move around when buried. This is likely for balance. In ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'', this is handwaved by the Zerg being able to erode any material with millions of micro muscles, effectively making them semi-liquid. Don't think too hard about it.
* Fishing activity in ''VideoGame/RuneFactory3'' is extended into a desert. Fishes are seen swimming under the sand where you can see their shadow.
* Sand Zone from ''VideoGame/CaveStory'' features aptly named sand crocs which [[WallMaster prey on any hapless victim]] that falls into otherwise solid sand in which they can seemingly swim.
* In ''VideoGame/FantasyLife'', one of the places where fish can be found is the desert's sand. There are also some that live in lava.
* The makers of ''VideoGame/HomeworldDesertsOfKharak'' said that they intended to make a "naval" game. What with the aircraft carrier on treads. Wind-powered sand ships capable of making the trip from pole to pole appear in the backstory.
* The Sea of Rust in ''VideoGame/TransformersFallOfCybertron'' is a variant; it's still effectively a dust-ocean, but the "powder" that serves as a water-substitute is actually untold billions of tons of [[MeaningfulName rust flakes]], created when some unknown disaster corroded an entire continent-sized mass of [[CityPlanet Cybertron]] in a comparative instant.
* House of the Dead 2 has a hydra-like boss known as Tower. In its first fight, the player kills 4 out of its 5 heads, but the last one has to be hunted and killed at either a watery or a sand-filled arena, neither environment stopping it from just swimming through.
* Side Eye, a Hammerhead shark Rabbid and one of the bosses of the ''VideoGame/MarioPlusRabbidsKingdomBattle'' DLC "DK Adventure" moves around by swimming into sand with only his fin poking out of the sand. Like, you know, sharks.

* ''Webcomic/MushroomGo'' features [[CoolBoat the Chainless]], a ship built to travel through sand. It's partially powered by magic, and doesn't handle regular sand as well as it does the [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario-style]] {{quicksand|Sucks}}.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', the nomadic Earthbender offshoot Sandbenders specialize in manipulating the sand that surrounds them (other Earthbenders can do little more with sand than make a few puffs of dust unless they practice diligently) so the water like behaviour gets {{justified|Trope}} since its derived from their mystical bending powers; consequentially, their movements are more akin to those of a waterbender. They apply this power to use small sand skiffs to sail around in.
* In The ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra'' episode "Long Live the Earth Queen," Korra and Asami use a sand-ship to escape from a ''gigantic sand fish.''
* In "The Sand Whale Strikes" episode of ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'', the titular character is forced by Eustace's mother to hunt a sand whale, who is trying to get his accordion back from Eustace's mother. And Courage is forced to row a boat in the sand. Subverted in that the ground only worked like water for the sand whale, [[MagicAIsMagicA and not the rowboat.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'' is a major user, including both ''Dune''-like sand worms and a giant shark that could swim through the sand. The landshark was also hunted by a [[Literature/MobyDick Captain Ahab]] CaptainErsatz who piloted a flying masted ship until it was killed by a tribe of Koala-like tribesmen.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' has the Sand Sea in "Ramlak Rising," with waves, tides, storms, flying pirate ships and sea monsters great and small. Oases are reimagined as islands ''of water.'' Landlubbers are screwed either way.
* ''WesternAnimation/MattHatterChronicles'': This happens frequently whenever the protagonists are in the Sea of Sand realm. Heck, even the realm's name lampshades the trope

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Oddly enough, there is an animal known as a "sandfish" which swims through sand - although it's a [[http://www.physorg.com/news166973246.html skink]] and not an actual fish of course. Marsupial moles and desert-dwelling golden moles also sort of "swim" through sand as well. Presumably, this trick won't work well with larger animals (less thrust relative to surface area), so don't expect any real life sand worms.
** Genuine "sand-swimming" vertebrates still have to remain very close to the surface to avoid suffocation. Most only "swim" far enough to cover themselves with a thin dusting of sand, thus acquiring camouflage and shielding them from the desert sun.
** The strange Kallar Dancing Frog was found to have tadpoles that, unlike most tadpoles that live in water, live in soil.
* Interestingly, the sands of the Sahara actually does behave much like water, due to its extreme age and the resultant smoothness of the grains. Of course, that's only relative to ''other'' deserts and on a large scale (both area and time span). You still couldn't swim in Sahara sand, no matter how comparatively smooth the grains are.
* If you get sand really loosely packed, it becomes [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_quicksand dry quicksand.]] If you drop something in it, it will fall through the surface of the sand, and make a splash.
* Some athletes will 'surf' on sand. However, the boards they use are snowboards that are HEAVILY waxed. Since rough snow is almost as abrasive as sand this is realistic.
* Sand beaches, as well as dry lakebeds and salt flats, are favored terrain for the use of land yachts, as a fairly flat surface is needed for these lightweight wheeled vessels to remain stable.
* In the era before CGI and color film, special effects were done using scale-models often used sand as an alternative to water due to the absurdly large relative size of water droplets to the models of ships, planes, etc.
* In some areas in Pakistan, they cook chickpeas in a deep pan full of sand, using the sand to conduct and diffuse the heat; basically, boiling in sand.
* Given enough sheer stress force, the ground can undergo what is known as [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_liquefaction liquefaction,]] where the ground behaves like a liquid.
* One actually can have some fun with this trope [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjgURBIqJ6s as demonstrated here.]]