10 Amazing Things Found in the Ocean

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Around 71% of the Earth is covered by the oceans. That works out to around 320.3 million cubic miles of water. That’s a lot of water. So it’s no surprise that the oceans hide countless mysteries and marvels. Some of them are far more amazing than others.

10. The City of Alexandria

One of the greatest cities of antiquity was Alexandria, the famed metropolis created by Alexander the Great himself. The third largest city in Egypt, it was founded back in 331 BC. It was home to the fabled lighthouse of Alexandria and remained one of the greatest cities in the world for well over 1,000 years, though it was plundered in 641 AD. Then, as with almost anything that has such a history, its time mostly came to an end.

Much of Alexandria was lost to the sea over the generations, and it was not discovered again for many years.

In the 1990s, divers began the process of excavating the area and discovered amazing structures beneath the water, as well as incredible statues and art. This includes what may have been the royal quarters of Cleopatra herself. 

9. Plutonium

Make a list of stuff you probably don’t want to find just lying around, and plutonium has to be on there somewhere. One of the most radioactive substances in the universe, plutonium emits dangerous alpha radiation. Outside of your body, alpha rays are actually not that dangerous, relatively speaking. However, if you inhale it, the damage it can do inside your body is catastrophic. It could cause chromosomal damage that’s as much as 1,000 times worse than other sorts of radiation. 

Given the potential harm, you’d want to make sure you know where plutonium is and keep it under wraps. But that’s hard to do when it shows up at the bottom of the ocean.

Nearly all plutonium you’ve ever heard of is man made. It’s a nuclear waste material. But the plutonium in the ocean was likely made when a star exploded and launched the material into space. It probably crashed onto the earth millions of years ago and settled into the sediment at the bottom of the sea. 

Plutonium born in stars is a rare treat for scientists. Natural elements like this unlock the keys to the universe in many ways. We know that hydrogen and helium were formed when the universe formed, but things like plutonium are virtually unheard of.

8. Worm Highway

When and where life developed and evolved is always of interest to scientists and it’s also something very hard to piece together. Figuring out what happened hundreds of millions of years ago is not exactly an easy task when all you have to go by is samples of rocks. That’s what made the discovery of a series of worm tunnels so interesting.

Researchers in Canada discovered what they decided to call a superhighway of extremely tiny tunnels in rocks that dated back to a time before the dinosaurs. These little tunnels were preserved in the rock and indicated a sea floor that was bustling with life 270 million years in the past.

Despite being located at what would have been the bottom of a dark ocean, the fossils show a network of little tunnels, some only 0.5 millimeters in diameter, that were once home to worms that were busy living their lives and being hunted by predators in the depths of the ancient seas that covered the area. Prior to this discovery, the idea of life having existed in that place and that time, especially with such diversity, was pretty much unheard of. 

7. Brinicles

Brinicles are sometimes known as Ice Fingers of Death, which is a name you might expect for a Nordic death metal band and not necessarily an innocuous if unusual natural phenomenon. Still, with a name like that, it’s no doubt that they’re pretty interesting, though exceedingly rare. So what is an ice finger of death? It’s an undersea icicle.

Brinicles are rarely observed because they don’t tend to last long. Located in polar water under sheets of ice, they form as long, winding, flowing icicles. Because sea ice is made with salt water, the salt gets pushed out as the fresh water freezes and forms channels in the ice. Sometimes the extremely salty unfrozen water leftover winds all the way through the ice to the ocean below. As it drains into the sea, it sinks because it’s far more saline than the surrounding seawater. But it’s also well below freezing. As it sinks, the relatively freshwater it meets on the way down freezes when the two waters contact each other. 

It’s possible for a brinicle to grow from surface ice all the way to the ocean floor and then spread out from there. They’re short-lived, however, as shifting currents and temperatures will destroy them quickly. 

6. The Japanese Atlantis

If you have never heard of the Yonaguni Monument, you’re not alone. Sometimes called the Japanese Atlantis. This site located near the Ryukyu Islands in Japan has been a contentious find for years.

Some believe the site shows evidence of an ancient civilization, possibly even the lost continent of Mu. Initial guesses claimed a pyramid discovered at the site could be as much as 10,000 years old, a number which was later revised to 2,000 or 3,000 years old. Still, that would be a remarkable find because any sort of pyramids off the coast of Japan would definitely be unprecedented. The problem is that perhaps they still are. 

One of the greatest mysteries around the Yonaguni Monument is whether it’s anything at all. Despite the central point of interest looking amazingly like a well-carved step pyramid, there’s also a lot of evidence this is just natural phenomenon. As you may know, certain kinds of stone can form in platforms and sheets at angles that make them look like they were carved into corners. This has been observed in many other places around the world as well. And some researchers feel that’s the case with the sandstone at Yonaguni. 

The biggest problem is that few people are interested in researching this one way or the other, and the government has already decided there is nothing of significance at the site. 


5. Feet

For nearly 15 years, the west coast of Canada was plagued by one of the most morbid problems imaginable. Feet kept washing up from the ocean. Severed human feet, always in shoes, appeared on beaches up and down the coast. This happened over a dozen times, and none of the feet appeared as matching pairs. 

Some human body parts are easier to identify than others, but feet are not particularly easy to pinpoint. Especially when no one has been reported missing, as was continually the case. The rumors began to churn like a foot-filled ocean after several appearances, with people afraid that there might be a serial killer out there lopping off feet and tossing them to the water.

After much research and investigation, law enforcement was able to identify 10 of 15 feet that washed up. We said earlier none appeared as matching pairs, but that didn’t mean there were no matching pairs, after all. In fact, one pair of feet were discovered five years apart. Same person, just quite a long time before discovery.

So what happened? Accidents. All the identified parts belonged to people known to have died in an accident. The body falls into the water and because a human ankle is a relatively weak point, it separates from the whole. And because it’s in a shoe, it stays relatively safe from ocean predators and other factors which would contribute to decomposition. Instead, they just churn around in currents, sometimes for years, until they arrive on shore. A boot found in 2009 belonged to a man who went missing in 1985. 

4. Undersea Rivers

In most contexts, a river is not all that amazing. Sure, there has to be the longest river in the world, or even the oldest. But they’re still rivers. We’ve all seen a river. But have you seen one at the bottom of the ocean? Because there are many of them, and they’re pretty remarkable.

The very idea of a river in the ocean sounds a little bizarre. Off the coast of California you’ll find the Monterey Canyon. A vast swatch cut through the ocean’s floor by a 200 mile long river that bends and winds like any surface river might. The Black Sea underwater river flows at a rate of about four miles per hour and stretches for 37 miles. 

Undersea rivers are still relatively unknown and poorly researched overall. They weren’t even really known to exist at all until the 1980s. You can imagine it was difficult to pick them out since they’re just water flowing through more water. But they do flow just like surface rivers and cut the same geological patterns into the rock beneath the water as rivers on the surface do. 

The rivers start as sediment flows, like avalanches and mudslides, but are able to pick up incredible speed and move massive volumes of sediment in a relatively small period of time. 

3. 9,000 Year Old Hunting Blind

Is this one a cheat because it’s not technically an ocean? Maybe, but it’s still very cool. Deep in the frosty waters of Lake Huron, scientists have uncovered evidence of a 9,000-year-old human hunting blind. 

Artifacts and man made stone structures were found preserved in the pristine waters, evidence of a time when the world looked a lot different than it does today. Back then, there was a land bridge across that part of the world thanks to lake levels being hundreds of feet lower than they are today. And because the bridge was a relatively narrow path, it was a perfect spot to hunt animals migrating down from the north. 

Lines of stone were found by archaeologists, which would have been used to corral the animals. In the wild, animals like caribou are naturally averse to stepping over anything if they don’t have to. Make even a small wall of stone and they will walk around it instead of over it. 

These stone walls led to camp sites where old tools and more were discovered. Things were so well preserved that the fire rings still had coals in them. 

2. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Most of us have heard of the ocean garbage patches before, but understanding the scale of them is something else entirely. The push to eliminate single use plastics is directly related to the trash in the ocean and our need to do something about it. Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle, as witnessed by the derision and backlash, that came when people tried to swap plastic straws for paper a couple of years back. You’d think people were being robbed of their livelihoods.

So why is this such a big deal? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the largest of five massive trash piles at sea, covers an area of 1.6 million square kilometers of ocean surface. It’s twice the size of Texas and made almost exclusively of discarded plastic. How much plastic? About 1.8 trillion pieces weighing around 800,000 tonnes. Both of these numbers focus on the most dense section of the patch, meaning it’s likely much higher on both counts.

Much of the plastic in the patch is what is called microplastic, tiny beads of plastic that are barely even visible to the naked eye. Some pieces are incredibly large however, and dangerous to marine life in terms of simply snaring them, such as in nets. But the smaller pieces are also a danger as they are ingested by fish and then, in turn, by humans. 

1. Earliest Life on Earth

Of all the things that have been discovered in the ocean, few can claim to be as remarkable as some extremely old, extremely small fossils found in Quebec, Canada. These fossils seem to be evidence of the oldest life ever discovered on the planet Earth.

Fossils unearthed in ferruginous sedimentary rocks which indicate they were once around hydrothermal vents have been dated back much further than you’d think anyone had ever discovered life before. Remember, humans didn’t appear until around 300,000 years ago. And dinosaurs didn’t appear until around 230 million years ago. But these fossils date back to 3.7 to 4.2 billion years ago.  The entire planet is only about 4.5 billion years old.

The life is by no means complex, this is just the fossilized remains of microbial life, but the age indicates that the earth was relatively fast to get the biological ball rolling.


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