The enigmatic sea, shrouded in mystical legends and ancient myths. Its vastness inspires both terror and awe. A keeper of great secrets, and it’s not surprising that, with no satellite guidance or electronic communications, sailors of old were reverent of the oceans, worshiping them as deities, paying tribute to their force and power and seemingly unlimited ability to both sustain life and to extinguish it.
From time immemorial, the sea has inspired stories of incredible adventure, heartbreaking disaster, and bewildering oddities. Peculiar things transpire out at sea, even in this modern day with our seemingly ubiquitous technology. Ancient sailors told tales of sea monsters, leviathans that resembled dragons. Today, we know that such fabled creatures don’t exist. However, even in this day and age, some legends persist. Ghost Ships and Bizarre structures. Unexplained disappearances and unidentified objects. There is no shortage of mysteries originating from the sea. In this article, we examine some of the strangest.
The term alone inspires fear and intrigue. A Ghost Ship. Definition: a ship with no living crew aboard; a derelict vessel found adrift with its crew missing or dead. There have been countless tales of ghost ships throughout history. Fictional accounts like the Flying Dutchmen are interesting, but the actual cases are much more remarkable. Cases like the Mary Celeste. In 1872, the commercial freighter embarked from New York en route to Europe. One month later, she was found adrift with no crew or signs of foul play. One life raft was gone, and that was all investigators had to go on. Speculation ran rampant as to the cause. Was the pure alcohol in the cargo hold emitting deadly fumes? Pirates? Undersea earthquakes setting the crew in a panic? Whatever the cause, the Mary Celeste is one of the greatest maritime mysteries in history.
Another ghost ship that met a similar fate was the Kaz II. In 2007, three friends departed from a tropical port in Australia en route to the Great Barrier Reef. Three days later the sailboat was found adrift with nobody on board. The boat was in perfect operating condition, aside from the fact that one of the sails was shredded. A computer was turned on, the table was set for dinner, and the engine was still running. Investigators have since put together what they think is the best explanation for the disappearances—a series of tragic and freak accidents that threw the men overboard. However, many alternative explanations still circulate. Sudden foul weather? A sandbar? A freak wave? It remains unsolved.
The Baychimo is another well-known and bewildering story. Dubbed ‘The Ghost Ship of the Frozen North,’ the Baychimo, a steamer carrying fur pelts, experienced unusual winter weather and became stuck in some pack ice. The crew, sheltering overnight on the ice, was shocked to find the ship missing the next morning. Several days later a fur trader said he spotted the ship drifting about 45 miles to the southwest. And over the next eight years countless reports came in telling of sightings of the derelict ghost ship. Since then, no one has been able to get close to the Baychimo. Amazingly, her last known sighting was thirty years later in 1969. Could she be out there to this day?
On land we have the Great Pyramids and the Great Wall. Stonehenge and Easter Island. But were you aware that some of the most mysterious of all the ancient manmade edifices lie beneath the waves? One of the most famous of these undersea constructions is the so-called Bimini Road. Also called the Bimini wall, it is a half mile collection of giant flat stones submerged off the north coast of the Caribbean island. Scholars and scientists are skeptical whether it is manmade or not. Dreamers and poets have no doubt, even going so far as to say it is a remnant of the lost city of Atlantis.
The next unexplained edifice on this list has been in the news lately. Divers and investigators are planning a scientific excavation of an underwater rock wall off the coast of Plymouth in the UK that is thought to be thousands of years old. The theory is that the geography back then was much different, when what is a watery bay today was nothing but dry land. Researchers think the people in those times were combating rising sea levels and built the wall as a dike to protect their coastal settlements. It’s an intriguing find and one that may just yield some more clues as the work goes forward.
The Sea of Galilee holds much significance in biblical history. In 2003, that history came crashing into present times when archaeologists discovered a gigantic cone-shaped structure under 12 meters of water. Researchers are scratching their heads over the structure, which is 70 meters in diameter, weighs tens of thousands of tons, and is thought to be between 2,000 and 12,000 years old.
Of all the known man-made underwater structures out there, Yonaguni Monument stands head and shoulders above the rest. Yonaguni Island is the most southern of the Japanese Ryuku Islands, and it harbors the world’s most mysterious underwater structures. First found by a diver in the 80s, it features stunningly massive four-sided pyramid formations with flawless right angles, perfectly straight walls, stairs, pillars, and what seems to be a chiseled human likeness. Scientists surveyed the submerged structure and determined it had to be man-made and was built around 10,000 BC. Some people, though, are doubtful that the Yonaguni Monument was constructed by humans.
One of the most confounding of the sea’s unsolved mysteries is the story of the USS Cyclops. In 1918, just after the US entered WWI, the ship and all of her 306 crewmembers went missing near Barbados and was never heard from again. The weather in the area was reportedly violent, but no wreckage has ever found. To this day the loss of the Cyclops represents the US Navy’s largest single loss of life incident on the high seas.
It was October, 1996, when the Coast Guard in Florida received a peculiar distress call. The 16 people aboard the yacht, Intrepid, reported the boat was sinking and they were abandoning her. In rough seas with seven-foot swells, rescuers searched into the morning for survivors. After probing 6,000 square miles, the frantic hunt was called off. Intrepid and her 16 passengers were never heard from again.
Arguably the most famous of all disappearances at sea is the confounding case of Amelia Earhart. An aviation innovator and writer, Earhart was the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo. She had also dreamed of a flight around the globe and had nearly done it when disaster struck on July 2, 1937. She and her copilot Fred Noonan disappeared completely. After a $4 million sea search operation with no luck, rumors began to surface as to why they vanished. Lack of fuel and faulty equipment were the main theories, while scandalous theories that Earhart was a spy have ignited debates.
These maritime vanishings are as distressing as they are intriguing. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are still exposed to the same types of traumatic loss. Malaysian Flight 370 is the latest example. If you don’t know the story by now, you have been living under a rock. On March 8th, 2014, late at night, the aircraft simply vanished from radar screens and purportedly crashed in the Indian Ocean. Twelve Malaysian crew members were aboard along with 227 passengers. Despite several false sightings, no flight debris has been found and no crash site has been located.
Unidentified (Submersible) Objects
It is estimated that over 50 percent of the world’s UFO sightings occur in, on, or around water. UFOs have been sighted on many occasions rising from the ocean depths and taking flight, leading researchers to suggest ETs are staying hidden by erecting bases under the world’s oceans. One of these deep-sea UFOs (termed USOs or Unidentified Submersible Objects), was tracked by the U.S. Navy near Puerto Rico in 1963. On a training maneuver, a sonar operator identified a submerged object speeding at over 150 knots at the unbelievable depth of 27,000 feet. Submarines at that time could not dive that deep, so what could it have been?
The Baltic Sea UFO certainly captured a lot of imaginations when it was discovered in 2011. A 200 foot circular formation in the Baltic Sea, many imaginative Star Wars fans have remarked on the obvious resemblance to the Millennium Falcon. The object rests on a column and contains a structure that looks like a staircase descending to a dark cavern. Is it a World War II era anti-submarine device? A gun turret from a battleship? Debris from a fishing trawler? Or…dum dum dum…a flying saucer?
Sources: historylists.org | listverse.com | plymouthherald.co.uk | ancient-origins.net | navyhistory.org | wikipedia.org | boaterexam.com | manoneileen.com | ufoevidence.org