by Taylor Leonard
According to the National Ocean Service, 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored by humans. The five-percent of what we do know is itself riddled with mysteries. Most mysteries of the Earth’s oceans will eventually be explained by scientific analysis. Others remain to be fully explained despite great attention paid by experts in relevant fields. Others still are simply downright bizarre. The most interesting and strange of these unsolved underwater mysteries are outlined below:
At the southernmost tip of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands lies Yonaguni, a popular island hot-spot for scuba divers due to a heavy hammerhead shark population. In the mid-1980s divers observed a large stone formation off the coast which resembled a step pyramid. Further investigation revealed pillars and other aspects of the underwater stone which would suggest humans built it or at the least modified existing formations. If indeed the product of human effort, the Yonaguni Monument as it’s come to be known would become the oldest human-made ancient structure ever discovered; the last time that part of Yonaguni was above water was sometime in 8,000 BC. For perspective, the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed over 5,000 years later.
Submarine Disappearances of 1968
1968 was not a good year to be onboard a naval submarine. By year’s end a total of four submarines were declared missing, each from a different country. It started with the sudden disappearance of the INS Dakar, an Israeli sub originally built by the British, on or around January 25. Only two days later the French Navy submarine Minerva disappeared without a trace during routine transit. On March 8 the Soviet Golf-class sub K-129 sank under mysterious circumstances, though state-controlled reporting at the time limited information about the loss. Finally, on May 22, the nuclear-powered USS Scorpion of the American Navy was the last sub to disappear in 1968, after unusual communications activity conducted by the crew. Though wreckage of three were eventually found, the fate of Minerva remains unknown and the true cause of these submarine disasters has never been officially revealed.
Ecology and Extent of Undersea Cave Systems
Tens of thousands of underwater caves are believed to exist throughout the world’s oceans, but less than five-percent have ever been explored let alone documented. The yet-to-be discovered life forms found in these untouched realms are believed to represent the origins of life – it was in similar environments where our microscopic ancestors first appeared. It’s also likely such environments hold the only hope for life off-planet within our own solar system; planets and moons with frozen water on the surface may be hiding underwater ecosystems underneath. If they are, it’s likely that naturally climate-controlled underwater caverns are where these life forms exist. Learning the mysteries of our own underwater caves is the first step in learning about the mysteries of life in the universe.
Fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
The continuing pursuit of the wreckage site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 epitomizes how little we know about the overwhelmingly massive volume of deep ocean on our planet. Despite brilliant mathematical breakdowns leading to a relatively small portion of the Indian ocean where the crash site is believed to be, it’s going to likely be decades of constant sea floor exploration by robots before anything substantial is ever located. Until then, the exact fate of Flight 370 remains an absolute mystery for the friends and family of the 251 people onboard believed to be dead.
Though our land masses may be almost completely explored and documented, it’s a miniscule piece of the entire planet. The overwhelming majority of Earth is a deep dark ocean of which only five-percent has been seen by the human eye. Our few explorations and discoveries under the sea are themselves subject to raising more questions than answers. If this is only a sliver of what goes on below the surface it’s safe to say human undersea explorers will be busy for a very long time to come.