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Fathoms Below: 6 Eerie Deep Sea Mysteries

Will the truth emerge?

Humankind has come very far from the days when people believed the earth was flat. Although we know it’s impossible to sail into the horizon and fall off the face of the earth, the world is still a strange place. We may have GPS and sonar now, but the ocean still holds many mysteries. From entire ships lost at sea to a deluge of floating human feet, prepare to be astonished by these inexplicable deep sea mysteries. Maybe it is possible to vanish after all…

The Baltic Sea Anomaly

maritime mysteries
  • Photo Credit: Alchetron

In 2011, a group of divers came across a strange object deep in the Baltic Sea. A rounded object, 42 feet high and discovered 300 feet under the surface of the Baltic, the anomaly was initially believed to be of extraterrestrial origin. The unusual shape and markings led tabloids to spin a tale of a long lost UFO. Many have pointed out an odd resemblance to Star Wars’s Millennium Falcon.

Related: The Mysterious Fate of the Morro Castle 

In the first series of photos the group of divers captured, they claimed to see an object 200 feet in diameter, with features resembling ramps and stairways. These photos were far too blurry to identify any elements of the mysterious object. However, when the team returned to take a new set of photos, they claimed to have been obstructed by "mysterious electrical interference" that rendered their hi-tech gadgets useless.

One theory is that anomaly is a German ballistic object that was lost during World War II. Others believe that it is merely an atypical geological formation. The Baltic Sea is a very active geologic zone, so it’s possible that this formation could be entirely natural … or it could be something a bit less explainable.

A Physicist’s Plan Gone Wrong

maritime mysteries
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1938, before embarking on a sailboat that would take him from Palermo to Naples, Ettore Majorana withdrew all of his money. He also sent a letter to Antonio Carrelli, the director of the Naples Physics Institute:

“Dear Carrelli, I made a decision that has become unavoidable. There isn’t a bit of selfishness in it, but I realize what trouble my sudden disappearance will cause you and the students. For this as well, I beg your forgiveness, but especially for betraying the trust, the sincere friendship and the sympathy you gave me over the past months. I ask you to remind me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, possibly later too. E. Majorana”

Majorana clearly had a plan, but it’s doubtful that his plan included getting lost at sea. The young physicist never arrived in Naples, and his boat and body were never found. Some believe that Majorana may have gone to disappear after becoming worried that he would be forced to help create atomic bombs. Others says his plan was to die by suicide, while others still claim that he was kidnapped. The hugely influential scientist has since had an annual prize awarded for outstanding contributions in theoretical or mathematical visits created in his name.

The Curious Case of the Severed Sea Feet

maritime mysteries
  • Photo Credit: Alchetron

Since 2007, the Pacific Northwest has been somewhat regularly startled by severed human feet washing up on the shores. The very first, a right foot, was found on Jedediah Island in British Columbia, nestled into an Adidas shoe, size 12. The shoe was a model found mostly in india. The second, which shared the same specifications as the first, was discovered tucked into a Reebok design found around the world. Since then, 15 feet have appeared. The Canadian shores have seen 11 while the beaches of the United States have been the landing place of 4 feet. Only one of the feet, which was found in 2008, has belonged to a woman.

Who do these feet belong to? Where are they coming from? How have they become detached from their owners? Since the feet started washing up, a number of theories have been proposed.

Related: 7 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the World 

The theory that they are the remains of the all-male passengers who were in a plane crash off the coast of Quadra Island in 2005 seemed plausible prior to the discovery of the female foot. This now debunked theory was replaced with the idea that the feet could be the remains of victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. If this is the case, the feet would have to have travelled very far (and it doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t be attached to their owners). A third theory is that they are the rotted-off appendages of people who committed suicide by jumping off of the relatively nearby Pattullo Bridge in Vancouver.

The most likely explanation? A combination of all three of these theories. It’s believed that the feet of a corpse are protected by shoes, leading to the rest of the body decomposing faster and “losing” the feet, which are then brought to shore with the help of their buoyant sneakers. Of course, a number of more gruesome theories persist.

Only the Jawbone Remained

maritime mysteries
  • Photo Credit: Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

In 1979, five men went fishing on a small Boston Whaler leisure boat just off the coast of Hawaii’s Maui island. She was named Sarah Joe. Not far into their journey, the fishermen encountered a dangerous storm, and all contact with the Sarah Joe was lost. Despite the toils of a search party, neither the Sarah Joe nor her passengers were found.

In 1989, John Naughton, who had been a part of the Sarah Joe’s search party, was doing research on a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands. To his shock, he suddenly came across the Sarah Joe, almost entirely intact. Even more shocking, next to the remnants of the ship was a shallow grave holding only a human jawbone. Even stranger, the grave was topped with a makeshift cross fashioned from driftwood. Using dental records, it was concluded that the jaw, and a small handful of bones found beyond the grave, belonged to one of the men who set out on a fishing trip that fateful day. The other four men were never found.

This strange grave created many more questions and gave few answers. Where did the rest of the men end up? Why was only a jawbone buried? Who performed the burial?

One theory as to the burial ties into an ancient burial tradition. When Naughton unearthed the shallow grave, he noticed stacks of paper, separated by tin foil, buried with the remains. In a traditional Chinese burial, small pieces of paper or money are separated by foil and placed in the coffin. Perhaps a group of indigenous people found evidence of the wreckage and attempted to give the lone victim a proper burial.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat to the End of the World

maritime mysteries
  • Bouvet Island.

  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

From the sea, Bouvet Island appears to be little more than a large chunk of ice protruding from the horizon. An inhabitable island, a mere 19 square miles in total, Bouvet Island is located far south in the Atlantic Ocean between southern Africa and Antarctica. Despite its dreariness, in the 1950s, a group of South African scientists arrived, hoping to establish a maritime station.

Upon exploring the island and surrounding water, scientists found something very different than they were expecting–a small boat. The row boat, eerily found floating in a lagoon, had two oars and nothing else.

Investigating the boat and its surroundings was fruitless. There were no clues to indicate what had transpired in the frigid lagoon. Although previous expeditions had made it to Bouvet Island, none reported leaving anything, let alone a boat, behind. To this day, the little row boat remains a total mystery.

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

maritime mysteries
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1872, the Mary Celeste set off from New York City. She was on her way to Genoa, carrying a large load of denatured alcohol that would have made her captain rich. However, a month after its departure, the Mary Celeste was discovered floating off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands. The crew and one of the life boats had disappeared, but on board, everything seemed as if the crew was about to return.

Related: The Vanishing Crew of the Carroll A. Deering: A Maritime Mystery 

There was ample food, and both the alcohol and the captain’s chambers were undisturbed. It seemed as if the entire crew vanished into thin air.

Further investigation lead to few theories. Some say pirates killed all on board, others insist a giant squid attack is responsible. Theoretically, there could have been a failed attempt at mutiny or an instance of dramatic insurance fraud. None of the theories seems particularly likely. To this day, the fate of the crew of the Mary Celeste remains a mystery.

Featured photo: andym5855 / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: Alchetron; Alchetron 

Published on 03 Aug 2018

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