We have better maps of the Moon and Mars than we do of the ocean floor. Intrepid explorers dove deep into this blue frontier and have made amazing, shocking, and weird discoveries….
You Sunk My Battleship!
The British Battleship HMS Audacious was mobilized for battle as World War I began. However, it struck a mine laid by the SS Berlin before it could even leave British waters! Divers found the wreckage laying upside down off the coast of Ireland, with the gun turrets blown clear off.
This ship appears as if it glows an icy blue-green, as it hovers in place below the frozen Antarctic waters. This is cool, yet creepy, as it is reminiscent of legends of ghost ships that are led by magical, skeletoned pirate captains. The boat is called Mar Sem Fim, which is Portuguese for Endless Sea. The Brazilians on board were going to film a documentary when the boat got trapped in the ice. Luckily, they were rescued by the Chilean Navy, but their boat was not so lucky.
Dude, Where’s My Truck?
For most, the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea is not a convenient parking spot, but hey- at least there is no chance of getting a ticket. We actually should be calling the truck a “lorry,” as it is a British truck. It was on a ship called the SS Thistlegorm that was bringing supplies to allied forces in Egypt. Most forget that World War II was also fought in North Africa. Unfortunately, a German bombed sank the ship, and this wartime lorry has been there ever since.
Deep Artwork (Literally)
Scuba diving is an incredible way to explore the mostly unexplored ocean and to see amazing, colorful fish and coral. However, coral reefs are sometimes ruined by people breaking and taking coral as souvenirs. To give divers another place to hang out beside the endangered reefs, British Jason deCaires Taylor decided to make an underwater sculpture exhibit. The statues are also very friendly to sea-life, as little pores allow them to be colonized by sea life. Who needs science to save the earth when we have art?
$500 Million Spanish Gold
In 1804, a Spanish Galleon called the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes was attacked by a British squadron at a time of peace. The seemingly random attack sank the Spanish ship, and led to a war. The ship was transporting many treasures, like silver coins, as well as gold items, like the cigarette case pictured below. An American company salvaged the $500 million treasures in the wreck. However, the government of Spain took them to court, and eventually took the treasure back from the company that originally found it.
The number one rule in the Navy is that ships should be above water- not below it. That is what is so shocking about what happened to this boat, the USS Kittiwake. She used to be an Auxiliary Submarine Rescue ship, and traveled on many missions from the Indian Ocean all the way to the Carribean. The ship saved countless lives, but after 49 years of service, the Navy decided to sink it on purpose! The reason? To make an artificial reef and diving spot in the Grand Cayman.
When we think of “computer” you think of your laptop. Amazingly enough, the ancient Greeks technically built a computer 150 years before the birth of Jesus. Talk about obsolete! The computer is analog, meaning mechanical rather than electrical- almost like a very complex mechanical clock. It is called the Antikythera mechanism, and it has algorithms stored in its many gears that predict moon cycles, eclipses, and other astronomical phenomena. It was found underwater in 1900 by divers looking for sponges near a shipwreck.
This shipwreck is located near the Bahamas, and is not the only ship in this shipping lane that has unfortunately sunk to the ocean floor. People involved in the shipping industry know that having your ship sink is one of the biggest risks of the business. Sometimes ships can run into old mines left over from wars, or even be attacked by modern pirates. It is no surprise that sailors of both then and now prayed to deities of the sea like Poseidon to keep them safe.
What in the world is a motorcycle doing covered in coral and surrounded by fish? The story starts in 1941, when the British and allies were busy fighting the axis forces in World War II. The British warship, the SS Thistlegorm, was sailing from Glasgow, Scotland to Alexandria, Egypt, to deliver supplies- ammunition, rifles, armored cars, motorcycles, and even steam-locomotives- to the allied troops fighting for control of Africa. Unfortunately, the ship was hit with a bomb from a German plane and sank, along with all the supplies.
Christ Of The Abyss
This remarkable statue of Jesus Christ is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Italy. The sculpture, which was made by Italian Guido Galletti, shows Jesus imploring and praying for peace. Since the statue is underwater, it is poetic, as Jesus is bringing light to places in the deep sea where the sun cannot reach. It is also a memorial to the life of Dario Gonzattim, who is famous for being the first Italian to use scuba gear.
In Oklahoma, the police had gone to do a routine test of their sonar equipment, when they accidentally found a car that had been missing for almost half a century. Inside the vehicles were, creepily, three skeletons. The car they were in was a 1950’s Chevrolet, and digging back into the archives, the police identified a missing persons cold case that might be solved by this find. Forensic scientists are looking for ways to test if these are the bodies of those reported missing all those years ago.
A group of diving enthusiasts put on their scuba gear, and went for a dive off the coast of Caesaria, Israel. They expected to see some beautiful scenes, but they never expected to uncover the largest find of gold coins ever in Israel’s history. The coins were thought to be of Egyptian origin. One theory supposed a ship was carrying these 2000 coins to Cairo because it was tax money from Caesarian residents. Another idea proposed this money was meant to be pay soldiers stationed in Caesarea.
In Japan, there are claims that there is a stepped-pyramid, almost like the Mesoamerican pyramids of the Inca and Maya. However, this one is underwater, off the coast of the tiny Japanese island called Yonaguni. The angular cuts of this so-called monument convinced Japanese scientist Masaaki Kimura that it is an ancient city. However, Boston University professor Robert Schoch, who dove to see the monument firsthand, disagrees. Schoch believes it is a natural formation made partially by the movement of tectonic plates.
Amazon And Apollo
What does Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos do with his $94 billion? He decided to, according to his colleague, “recreate the moment when he was five years old and he watched a man land on the moon.” Bezos funded a secret expedition to find the engines of Apollo 11 that dropped into the ocean in 1969 as the moon-bound rocket took off. The F-1 engines were confirmed to be the ones from Apollo 11 by serial number, and are now part of museum exhibitions.
Curse Of The Emeralds
Jay Miscovich, a treasure seeker, finally struck gold- or emeralds, rather. He found 154 pounds of emeralds on a Spanish wreck near Florida, with an estimated worth of millions. However, it was almost like there was a curse on the emeralds. Jay was taken to court to defend his claim, as the Spanish government may have had a stake. As Jay got himself deeper and deeper into stressful legal battles, he ended up taking his own life. Here’s why: he was a fraudster- the emeralds were store-bought.
Underwater Crop Circles
Japanese diver Yoji Ookata is obsessed with exploring the waters surrounding his country. On a dive near Amami Oshima, in the same region as Okinawa, he was shocked to find these “mystery circles” that are almost like crop circles, but under water. These sand patterns are six feet across, and remained a mystery until recently, when scientists cracked the code. The artist is a tiny pufferfish, who creates a this colossal structure by tirelessly using a fin to shape the sand, in the hopes of impressing a mate.
A Turkish diver accidentally stumbled upon this 14th century BCE shipwreck in 1982, which has become known as the Uluburun Shipwreck. The Bronze Age ship’s cargo included glass ingots, ivory, copper, Ostrich eggshells, oil lamps, arrowheads, food, Egyptian jewelry, and many jugs and jars. There was so much to take from the ship that archaeologists and divers needed ten years and over 20,000 dives to get every last bit onto land. You can see the artifacts found in in Turkey at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Mined Your Own Business
There is a saying regarding mines: “a mine is a terrible thing that waits.” There are naval mines littered throughout the underwater world- many are remnants of past conflicts. Some mines need to be touched by a ship to explode. Others have mechanisms that detect the magnetic signature that all submarines and ships give off, and explode once the enemy ship is close enough. Although mines are dangerous for commercial ships, they are still produced because they are so cost effective; one cheap mine destroys an expensive enemy ship.
Queen Anne’s Revenge
We all imagine pirates with a parrot on their shoulder, a peg leg, and an eyepatch. This terrifying appearance was inspired by the real-life pirate Blackbeard, who was famously intimidating. His pirate ship, which included 40 guns, was called Queen Anne’s Revenge. In 1718, Blackbeard ran his ship aground and took valuables onto numerous smaller ships to escape the wrath of the government chasing him. Blackbeard was eventually killed during a battle with the British Navy. Since then, many cannons have been recovered from the ship.
Ocean Floor Anomaly
A YouTube video posted by SecureTeam10 was at the center of controversy for what they claimed about a certain structure in the Atlantic Ocean. Scott Waring, creator of the website UFO Sightings Daily, discovered the pyramid-like structures using Google satellite images. The find is apparently located near Florida, and Waring says, “the lines on the pyramids are easy to make out and are proof that the nearby island was once inhabited by an ancient man or Aztec-like people.” Now, all we need is an underwater investigation.
World War II Silver
In 1942, the Germans were terrorizing people by using their submarines, called U-boats, to sink ships. The Germans sunk the SS City of Cairo, despite the fact that the ship had almost 300 civilians on it. To add another layer to the story, it also contained a treasure trove of 100 tons of silver! The ship sank almost 17,000 feet under the surface, and was only recovered in 2015. The $50 million worth of silver was delivered to its original recipient, the British government.
Six Feet Underwater
A decision by the Liverpool City Council made in 1956 to flood the Tryweryn Valley in Wales is now seen as an obvious attempt by the British to stifle Welsh culture by literally using water to drown Welsh communities. After years of protest, the British prevailed, and the area, including the village of Capel Celyn and its graveyards, was flooded. There were promises made that the bodies and headstones would be moved before the deluge, but they were not kept. Now, these souls’ resting place is Llyn Celyn reservoir.
An underwater photographer discovered something shocking under the waters of the Pacific Ocean: airplanes! How did they get here? The first thought was that World War II planes had been shot down, but these planes were without damage. They finally figured it out. After World War II ended, the Navy and Air Force decided, instead of spending countless dollars transporting ships back to the United States, to simply dump them into the ocean intact. Although a waste of resources, the images are truly striking.
In Plane Sight
This plane is a Japanese plane from World War II, manufactured by the Nakajima Aircraft Company. After the Japanese surrender, this company had a hard time surviving as the Allies prevented them from making anything due to them being a part of the war machine. Eventually, they re-emerged as the company that makes Subaru vehicles. This plane, the Nakajima B5N, was a torpedo bomber, but ironically, instead of sinking ships, it ended up sunken in the waters of Papua New Guinea.
New Home For Mitchell
Here, an excited scuba diver poses next to the 12.7 mm caliber weapons of the North American B-25 Mitchell airplane, resting on the ocean floor. This plane was named after Billy Mitchell, the army general who is thought of as the father of the Air Force. The Japanese were located in Lae, Papua New Guinea, their second-largest city, and this B-25 Mitchell was tasked with attacking them. Unfortunately, they sustained losses which ended with this fuselage at the bottom of Collingwood Bay.
Neptune Memorial Reef
Sometimes, former Navy folks, or even regular old citizens, prefer to have their remains dumped in the ocean in a process called burial at sea. Gary Levine, along with artist Kim Brandell, decided to make the fanciest version of burial at sea, creating an underwater columbarium. They call it Neptune Memorial Reef. The way it works is ashes of willing folks are mixed into concrete, and a memorial plaque is added onto it. Sculptures and structures are made from the concrete, and put into the Memorial Reef.
Out Of Gas
This plane is a F4U Corsair, which was active in World War II, but also during the Korean War. In this case, the pilot actually survived the crash! This is because the plane sunk not due to an intense mid-air dogfight, but due to an unexplained engine failure. The pilot skillfully landed on the water with the wheels up, and had a life jacket that kept him afloat as he waited to be rescued. The plane now hosts marine life that divers love to explore.
A Titanic Wreck
The sinking of the Titanic is well known by many. An unlucky 1,500 people lost their lives as the ship hit an iceberg, sank, and split into two pieces. Infamously, the Vice President of the cruise line said, “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.” Some believe this statement was never said. Of course, the sinking of this ship is famously chronicled in James Cameron’s blockbuster of the same name.
The Lost City of Heracleion
Heracleion is an ancient city in Egypt, which is now underwater. It was an important port city used for trading even as far back as the 12th century BCE. Although the city was mentioned in various texts, and was even said to have been visited Helen of Troy, it was nowhere to be found. This all changed in the year 2000, when Franck Goddio, an underwater archaeologist, found the lost city. They found incredible statues and temples made of diorite and granite.
The Lost City of Heracleion Part II
Franck Goddio and his team found many things in the lost city of Heracleion. There were 700 anchors for the 64 ships found there, gold coins, a massive temple to the god Amun-Gereb, as well as evidence of animal sacrifice at this temple. They also found that the city had many canals, in a criss-crossed system that is reminiscent of Venice. This crazy discovery is only the beginning, as the ocean is woefully unexplored. We can only wait and see what is next!