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The Most Surprising Undersea Discoveries

Image Source: Davdeka / Shutterstock

These remarkable findings are also famously called the Yonaguni Submarine Ruins. Situated at the southern tip of the Ryukyu Islands in Japan, these ruins came to light in 1986 when a team of travel officials visited the area to observe sharks. This spot is home to a significant population of hammerhead sharks, making it a favored diving location despite its robust currents, all thanks to the enigmatic ruins.

The structure bears a striking resemblance to terraces, stepped monoliths put together thousands of years ago for reasons yet unknown. Nevertheless, some scientists are not quick to dismiss the possibility that this could also be a natural formation.

Exploring the New Jersey Train Graveyard

Venturing through New Jersey, one can stumble upon retired trains left completely abandoned, overrun by vegetation and grass. In an unexpected turn of events, an underwater train graveyard was uncovered in 1985 by Paul Hepler.

While mapping the ocean floor, Hepler’s equipment detected large metal cases which, after numerous dives, were revealed to be locomotives. These are rare models from the Planet Class 2-2-2 T series manufactured back in the 1850s. There exists no documentation on this specific train or the circumstances leading to its submersion off the New Jersey coast.

The Unusual Encounter with a Sphinx

During an expedition in the deep waters off the Bahamas in 2014 to study a shipwreck, a team of divers made a startling discovery while examining the surroundings – a limestone sphinx.

The origins of the statue’s presence remain a mystery, but it is speculated to have originated from a region known as Wadi Rahanu in Egypt.

Unveiling the Lost City Of Heraclion

Thonis-Heracleion was once a bustling port city situated at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt. Mentioned as early as the 12th century B.C., this city gained prominence during the final era of the pharaohs.

Like all ancient port cities, it served as a vital hub for trade and industry. Before Alexandria took over, Thonis-Heracleion was the main hub for tax collection in Egypt. Unfortunately, the city soil underwent liquefaction and eventually sank beneath 30 feet of water. This site was uncovered by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology in 2000.

The Enigmatic Lake Michigan Stonehenge

A team under the guidance of Professor Mark Holley from Northwestern University in Michigan delved into Lake Michigan, the largest among the Great Lakes in the United States, to explore submerged ships for underwater archaeological purposes. What they discovered instead were concrete structures remarkably akin to the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

Situated 40 feet underwater, these structures stood close to an ancient shoreline, with stone slabs arranged in parallel, and even displayed a carving of a mastodon. Interestingly, this finding contradicted the initial belief that the structures could be 9,000 years old since mastodons had gone extinct over 10,000 years ago.

The Legacy of USS Oriskany

Dubbed The Mighty O, the USS Oriskany was one of the Essex-class carriers commissioned post-Second World War. Named after the Battle of Oriskany, one of the bloodiest Revolutionary War battles in 1777, this ship was decommissioned in 1976 and sold for scrap.

However, the USS Oriskany found a new purpose beyond its military life. Sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006, it now acts as an artificial reef, the largest vessel to serve this function, making it a prime spot for divers.

The Tragedy of SS President Coolidge

The spacious SS President Coolidge, once an opulent liner operating routes from San Francisco to Manila and other destinations across the Pacific and Far East, was repurposed by the US War Department as the threat of war escalated.

Serving as a troopship, the vessel was utilized to evacuate American citizens from Hong Kong when WWII loomed. Sadly, it met its end as it hit mines attempting to access a heavily fortified military base in Espiritu Santo, now part of Vanuatu, ultimately sinking after multiple mine impacts.

The Ill-Fated Titanic

The sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, due to a collision with an iceberg, led to the loss of over 1,500 lives. For much of the twentieth century, this tragedy was a taboo subject for the British, evoking grief difficult to overcome.

The discovery of the wreck after several failed attempts, costing millions of dollars, was finally achieved by Robert Ballard and his team at a depth of 12,000 feet underwater. The ship remains split in two sections at the ocean floor, with its bow and stern separated by about a third of a mile.

Uncovering Sunken Treasures

The sunken city in China’s Qiandao Lake, known as Shi Cheng, once a thriving metropolis, was intentionally submerged to create a reservoir. The city now rests 130 feet below the lake’s surface, attracting both archaeologists and tourists, serving as a memorable diving site.

in the Atlantic Ocean.

A U-boat sunk the SS Gairsoppa, a civilian vessel converted for use in the Second World War, in 1941, carrying 48 tons of silver bullion in its cargo. By 2013, a total of 48 tons of silver had been salvaged, making it the largest retrieval of precious metal on record.

The discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, an extraordinary ancient Greek invention dating back to around 87 BC, was made inside a container at a shipwreck off the coastline of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1902. With an internal gear mechanism, it is recognized as an analog device capable of forecasting eclipses and celestial positions for decades ahead.

A milestone in American history, the Apollo 11 mission represents a remarkable feat that involved landing the first two astronauts on the moon, a result of the intense space competition between the US and the Soviet Union. Following the successful mission, the F-1 engines that propelled the spacecraft beyond the S-1C phase were lost in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

The recovery of the rockets required a three-week expedition employing sonar technology, funded by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. The expedition managed to salvage various components from two out of the five rockets used.

The wreck of the Sweepstakes in Big Tub Harbour is a popular destination for snorkelers within the Fathom Five National Marine Park. This schooner, constructed in 1867, sank in 1885 near Cove Island while transporting coal.

The flagship of the infamous pirate Blackbeard, known as Queen Anne’s Revenge, was unearthed in 1996 near Fort Macon State Park in North Carolina. The expedition successfully retrieved more than 31 cannons and over 200,000 artifacts.

An ancient Phoenician shipwreck was uncovered off the coast of Gozo in Malta, dating back to 700 BC and resting approximately 400 feet below the surface.

The Silfra Crack, situated in Iceland, is a popular diving location that offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim amid the continental plates of North America and Europe.

The ancient city of Pavlopetri, believed to be 5,000 years old, was discovered off the coast of Laconia in Greece, dating back to the Mycenaean Period.

The Ice Finger of Death, a natural phenomenon known as “brinicles,” occurs when seawater freezes in polar regions, releasing concentrated sea brine downward.

Artifacts from the first maritime battle in history, the Battle of the Egadi Islands, were retrieved off the coast of Sicily in 2013, resulting in a quick victory for the Romans during the First Punic War.

The underwater sculptures crafted by Jason DeCaires Taylor in Cancun are deemed among the 25 wonders of the world, blending art, marine preservation, and diving expertise.

Truk Lagoon, located in the Chuuk state of the Federated States of Micronesia, house up to 60 ships that were sunken during World War II. Unfortunately, many crew members perished inside the wrecks, although around 3,000 crew members reportedly survived the attacks. Today, the lagoon is renowned for submarine tours, particularly to the Rio de Janeiro Maru, the Fujikawa Maru, and the Shinkoku Maru with their torpedoes and mine carts, among others.

A hospital ship named Irongate, a clipper vessel, was part of the fleet. It gained mention in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1956 for becoming the largest passenger ship at that time and currently remains listed among the wreckage. Irongate was involved in over 200 voyages and served as an impressive addition to the war efforts. Subsequently, the vessel was transformed into a floating hotel until disputes over its ownership emerged, leading to arguments between Chuuk and Pohnpei states contending for the ownership rights of the lagoon’s seabed.

The Red Sea Shipwrecks

This diving spot hosts iconic shipwrecks waiting to be explored, attracting divers worldwide. The SS Thistlegorm tops the list, a British vessel that sank during the war and was located by Jacques Cousteau himself in the 1950s.

Numerous artifacts remain preserved within its cargo holds, indicating its transportation of trucks, motorcycles, and armaments. The loss of the vessel resulted in the tragic deaths of approximately 9 crew members. It continues to be a thrilling diving site for adventurers hailing from various countries such as Germany, England, and the United States. Divers frequently encounter returning tourist divers who are captivated by the site’s allure.

The Spanish Galleon of Restauracion

Juan Pacheco served as the proprietor of the Spanish Galleon of Restauracion, assuming responsibility due to his background as a sailor. However, at that time, the captain in charge decided to divert from the intended course, opting to abscond to the Bermudas with its riches rather than docking in Veracruz.

Following its arrival in the Florida Keys, an extensive search effort spanned over a decade by treasure hunters and salvagers. From 1919 to 1933, attempts to locate the vessel persisted. Recovery attempts resulted in the discovery of a fragment strewn with metal debris, indicating its disintegration at the location.

Image Source: Davdeka / Shutterstock

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