The ocean is a vast, unexplored territory that's still waiting to be discovered. You never know what you'll find when exploring underneath the surface. You may stumble upon old shipwrecks, treasures, or even learn something new about marine life.
But the deep ocean is also filled with some really weird things lurking below. Check out some of the strangest things found in the ocean that will make you feel like you've been transported to another world.
The H.L. Hunley
In 1863, the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley set out on its maiden voyage under the sea. The Confederate Navy crew’s mission was to put an end to a Union blockade in Charleston Harbor. But they lost the submarine at the dock during their first mission and this wasn’t the last time it sank into the ocean. As it turns out, the ship wasn’t destined for a glorious war history out at sea.
It Sank More Than Once
Three attempts were made to retrieve the H.L. Hunley from the bottom of the sea. The retrieval team believe that the ship sank the first time because it got tangled in its rope lines and dragged down under. Once the submarine was repaired, the Hunley set sail again, but one of the crew members failed to close an important valve. The entire ship flooded, which led to the loss of all hands on board as well as the vessel.
Third Time Was Not the Charm
In spite of two previous sinkings, the submarine was once again repaired and sent out on another mission. But shortly after it sank the U.S.S. Houseatonic, the Hunley sank again for unknown reasons. Had the Houseatonic gotten in one final torpedo shot? Was the sinking related to human error? No one knows what led to the Hunley’s third loss in 1874, but it would take years for the ship to be discovered again.
131 Years Later
The Hunley’s final mission was in February of 1864 and since then, the ship has been lost in the deep ocean. It took 131 years before it was found again in 1995, but the ancient vessel was rusty and falling apart. So, retrieval teams weren’t able to bring what remained of the ship back to the surface until 2000. But once it was safe, researchers started studying the ship to unravel its mysteries.
Experts Have Searched the Vessel
Philippe de Vivies and Paul Mardikian were two conservators working to learn more about the Hunley’s wreckage. But given the level of hull damage, these experts feared that some of the crew’s belongings and equipment wound up on the ocean floor. They have continued to carefully explore the ship in hopes of finding some priceless artifact inside the vessel. But shipwrecks aren’t the only thing humans have found in the ocean.
There are all sorts of interesting ocean life swimming around like this handsome little fellow. This reddish creature is known as a sea toad and can be found roaming the sea at approximately 8,080 feet under the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Their exterior is covered by tiny pointy scales, and these toads have two interesting traits that make them quite unique as far as marine life are concerned.
They Have Two Unique Features
Sea toads dangle their bioluminescent dorsal ray to lure other fish into their open mouths. Their prey is so mesmerized by the light that they don’t realize the trouble they’re in until it’s too late. Another feature sea toads have is that they can place one pectoral fin against a rock and another against the sand almost like they are standing.
The Vasa Swedish Warship
On Sunday, August 10, 1628, the 17th century Swedish warship, Vasa, set sail. To say the ship was impressive for its time was a huge understatement. The 226-foot-long vessel had 64 heavy gun cannons, which made it a pretty powerful warship. But its maiden voyage was cut short in the most unexpected and disappointing way, and it’s safe to say that it was due to the ship being too big for its own good.
The 20 Minute Mission
Less than 20 minutes after it left the dock, a powerful wind gust knocked the Vasa to one side. Unfortunately, the gun cannons, the ship’s size, and the overall weight of the 250 crew members onboard forced the vessel to sink 105 feet below the sea. But it was only a matter of time before the ship was eventually retrieved.
The Vasa Museum in Sweden
Centuries later, archaeologists were able to retrieve sections of the ship’s hull as well as approximately 40,000 items from the wreckage. These explorers spent three decades cataloging the various artifacts. And in 1990, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm displayed the historic ship in all its magnificence for everyone to admire. Although the ship’s journey was short, Sweden still considers it a major achievement for that time period.
Basking sharks have a conical nose and massive extended gill slits. Generally, they’re about 7 to 8 meters long, but can sometimes grow up to 11 meters. Males are generally larger than females but regardless, they’re considered the second largest shark on the planet. But that’s not the only reason divers will want to avoid them at all costs.
They Jump and Bite
Basking sharks have tiny teeth about 4 millimeters long, but they have plenty of them. 1,200 teeth to be exact! But what makes these creatures even scarier is the fact that they can fully jump right out of the water and take a big chunk out of their prey or drag them down to the bottom of the ocean. Now generally, they prefer to roam the sea on their own but researchers have learned that they can also swim alongside as many as 100 of their fellow basking sharks.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR)
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a mid-ocean ridge along the north-south axis of the Atlantic Ocean’s floor and it is considered the longest mountain range on the planet. Researchers discovered that it was formed by tectonic plates as a result of the divergent motions between the plates of the North American, South American, African and Eurasian continents.
Portuguese Man O’ War
The Portuguese Man O’ War got its name because it looks like an 18th-century sailing warship. This creature can generally be found in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. All it has to do is latch one of its stingers onto its victim to deliver its painful toxin. There are approximately 10,000 human stings reported every summer in Australia.
Even the Dead Ones Hurt
Many beachgoers that assumed a dead man o’ war was no threat recoiled from the horrible painful sting after stepping on one of these washed-up dead creatures. Even a detached singer is capable of introducing venom into a person’s body. Those unfortunate victims will experience long, red welts that can last up to three days. Luckily, the sting has rarely been known to kill humans.
The marrus orthocanna is a group of zooids that link together to form a single stem. They’re created after a single fertilized egg is formed. Then, that creature will create genetic duplicates along the same biological stem. Once they mature, they work collectively to propel themselves across the water. They’re often found in cold waters like those of the northern Atlantic Ocean, the northwest Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.
They Work Collectively
The marrus orthocanna have a hive-like mind like bees do. They also work collectively for the well-being of their colony and each zooid has a specific task. But their primary purpose is to look for food to survive. Whenever they detect the presence of crustaceans like mysids, krill, or decapods, they’ll extend their tentacles and catch their prey.
The Point Glyphadiaon Shipwreck
In the year 1900, Captain Dimitrios Kontos and a team of sponge divers found the wreckage of the Point Glyphadiaon on Antikythera, an island in Greece. That same year, they helped the Hellenic Royal Navy on an expedition to recover artifacts from the shipwreck. Among the various recovered items were coins, jewelry, glassware, pottery and bronze and marble statues. But their most interesting discovery was the Antikythera Mechanism.
The Antikythera Mechanism is believed to be the first analog computer invented by humans and is therefore considered to be a priceless artifact. In fact, historians believe that the device originally traveled from the Greek island of Rhodes on a course towards Rome when the Roman cargo ship carrying it sank. The items retrieved from the wreck are now housed safely at the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens. But what was the device’s purpose?
It Was an Astronomical Tool
Aside from possibly being the first analog computer, it was more specifically an astronomical tool used to calculate and possibly display data on astronomical phenomenon. This hand-powered bronze and wooden tool may have allowed the ancient Greeks to predict eclipses, chart the different phases of the moon and track the seasons. Unfortunately, the museum only has about a third of the original pieces that made up the mechanism.
Goblin Sharks have been dubbed "living fossils" because their species dates all the way back to 125 million years ago. Since this type of shark was first discovered in 1897, humans have only recorded seeing about 50 of them. And they don’t exactly blend in with other sharks. In fact, they have a long, pointy snout that are this sea creature’s primary tool for finding food.
They Have Electroreceptors
The goblin shark’s snout contains sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, which are essentially electroreceptors. This feature allows the shark to detect the electric field of its prey so it can locate and pursue its next meal quickly and easily. This also lets it know what size its meal is, so it knows if it’s in for a fight or if it just has to open its mouth and swallow.
The stargazer is considered the meanest fish in creation for some very big reasons. For starters, it has a shocking personality, as in, it can send a debilitating electric shock to its prey’s body using its eye muscles. But ironically, they don’t have electroreceptors like other electricity producing fish such as eels. But that’s not the only reason why you’ll want to steer clear of the Stargazer.
They’re Highly Toxic
The Stargazer fish is very poisonous. They have two extremely large spines on the back of their eyelids and pistillate wings that can sting their prey. Fortunately, their venom isn’t powerful enough to kill most humans but it can paralyze them temporarily. Generally, the Stargazer uses its ability to camouflage and its venom to paralyze other fish so it can eat them.
Enormous squids capable of overpowering vessels with their massive tentacles might sound like the premise of a seafaring horror movie, but these types of creatures do exist approximately 6,000 feet below sea level. But ironically, none of them have ever been caught alive by fishermen, and the reason behind that may be in their own unique natural defense system.
They Squirt Ink
These giant squids are quite elusive. Whenever they sense danger, they release a stream of luminescent ink that blinds their enemy just long enough to allow them to escape. In some cases, they’ll use this momentary confusion to their advantage to attack with their two feeding tentacles that are twice as big as their bodies. Ironically, giant squids aren’t long for this world because their lifespan is limited to three years.
Monkfish have a large, spiny-looking head and sharp teeth in their mouths, but their most odd-looking feature is their depressed head that looks like someone might have stepped on them. They’re often found about 3,000 feet deep in the ocean and they enjoy spending most of their time in the mud or on the sand of the ocean floor so they can prey on creatures smaller than themselves. It might be why they’re confused for a shark called an angel shark, but they’re not the same species at all.
There Are Seven Types of Monkfish
There are seven different types of monkfish spread across the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. There’s the American angler, the black bellied angler, the blackfin goosefish, the yellow goosefish, the angler, the short spine African angler, and the Devil anglerfish. So far, the largest one of its kind found was about 4.9 feet or 150 centimeters long.
The Bathyscaphe Triest and the Mariana Trench
On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh took the research bathyscaphe Trieste deep into the waters of the Mariana Trench. On March, 23, 1875, the Challenger determined that the ocean’s lowest point was about 26,850 feet. But Piccard and Walsh discovered that the lowest point was about 35,797 feet. And later in 2009, the Mariana Trench was designed a US National Monument that protects 95,216 square miles of the submerged land area and waters.
Although all octopi have their own levels of defense, the blue-ringed octopus is said to be the only one of its kind with a toxin powerful enough to kill an adult human. In 1929, British zoologist Guy Coburn Robson discovered that these creatures turn bright yellow and each ring flashes bright blue for a third of a second after they’ve perceived a threat. In some cases, the rings will flash bluish-green to warn any nearby creature to back off.
They’re Highly Toxic
The blue-ringed octopus produces tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found in pufferfish. They produce this toxin with a little help from the symbiotic bacteria in their salivary glands and all it takes is 1 milligram to kill a human. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this venom that’s 1,000 times more lethal than cyanide and can kill within minutes. But they rarely bite humans unless they feel threatened.
The Lost Continent of Gondwana
Gondwana was the largest continental crust approximately 550 million years ago. But as the Earth transitioned from the Paleozoic Era to the Jurassic era, the Drake Passage, which connected the southwestern region of the Atlantic Ocean with its counterpart in the Pacific Ocean, began opening up. That’s when Gondwana started to fall apart and merge with Euramerica’s land mass.
Today, only two-thirds of what was originally Gondwana is above the water and is a part of South America, Arabia, Zealandia, the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, Antarctica, and Africa. But scientists discovered the lost third lies underneath the island Mauritius, which rose to the surface approximately 8 million years ago.
The Lost City of Pavlopetri
The Lost City of Pavlopetri is considered one of the oldest lost cities ever found underneath the water. Unfortunately, there is very little known about the actual name of the city or who actually lived here. But researchers believe that the city belonged to the Minoan Dynasty. It’s believed that a series of earthquakes in approximately 1,000 B.C., caused the city to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
The City is Decently Preserved
The City of Pavlopetri may be in ruins on the ocean floor, but it has remained intact for the most part. There are buildings and streets throughout the sunken town that have allowed researchers to get a better understanding of how these people lived. There are tombs in the area as well. And best of all, the construction materials, most of which were early Bronze age and middle-Minoan, allowed scientists to pinpoint how old the city was.
Coconut crabs are considered to be the largest land crustacean, but as it turns out, they’re also inhabitants of the sea. But they tend to stick to the water when they’re young before heading towards land when they’re older. And their respiratory system allows them to breathe air as well as underwater. These types of hermit crabs have a powerful sense of smell and love to eat coconuts, which is where they got their name from.
Watch Out for Their Claws
Coconut crabs generally have a red or blue shell and weigh about 9 pounds, but have a leg span of approximately 36 inches. Their size might not sound very intimidating, but don’t let that fool you. Their claws are said to have the same force as that of a lion’s jaw. So having these crabs get a hold of your fingers, toes or appendages will likely lead to you losing those appendages.
They May Have Eaten Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart and her navigator Frederick Noonan were reported missing on July 2, 1937 after their aircraft vanished near Howland Island in the Pacific. This island is home to many coconut crabs, and while it is highly unlikely, some theorists believe that Earhart’s plane was dismantled by their powerful claws. Of course, it’s far more likely that the young aviator crashed in the ocean.
The Yonaguni Jima Monument
In 1987, archaeologists discovered a 50-meter-long by 20-meter-wide sunken city that’s been dubbed Japan’s Atlantis. It quickly attracted many divers curious to study the site in more detail. At first glance, the site looks like a stacked-pyramid that some researchers believe to be over 10,000 years old. It’s located at a depth of 16 to 131 feet below the coast of the Ryukyu Islands.
The Underwater Pyramid
Sitting at the bottom of the mid-Atlantic is an underwater pyramid discovered by Diocleciano Silva. The pyramid lies between the islands of Terceira and Sao Miguel by the Azores of Portugal. Researchers believe that the structure has remained underwater for about 20,000 years, which is about the time of the last ice age. This means that a powerful civilization may have lived in proximity to this approximately 200-foot-tall pyramid.
Radar Detected the Strange Object
In an interview, Silva explained: "It's amazing because it forms a perfect pyramid. And moreover, orientation, deployment of the pyramid: The vertices are oriented north and south, just north and south, such as the Giza Pyramids in Egypt." Silva might not have found it had he not detected the object on his radar during a yacht trip to the Atlantic.
The Great Barrier Reef’s Doppelganger
The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia is considered the world’s largest collection of coral, but as it turns out, it’s not the only one. Researchers have learned that it has a doppelgänger off the coast of northern Australia. The coral has been described as underwater donuts or circular rings on the ocean floor.
The Reef is Bigger Than Expected
Robin Beaman of James Cook University explained in an interview that researchers knew of the northern Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s, but that they had no idea that its shape and size was three times bigger than they expected it to be. Before the Australian navy used 3-D mapping technology to map out the area, scientists assumed that the reef was only 800 square miles long.
What Lies Beneath the Reef’s Twin
The Great Barrier Reef’s twin is about 150 feet below the water, so there aren’t a lot of people who have actually witnessed this natural formation of algae rings in all of its glory. However, research reports indicate that they may look like plain white limestone flakes or an underwater field with a “lush, thick veneer of living green.”
If you thought the waterfalls in Niagara Falls were impressive, guess again. The largest waterfall in the world isn’t on land, but underwater. That’s right! It’s located between Greenland and Iceland. The Denmark Strait is 100 miles wide and inside nearly 175 million cubic of water drops 11,500 feet a second. All this happens below sea level in the Atlantic.
The Basket Star
The basket star looks like a starfish that’s undergone a massive growth spurt or mutation. These creatures have the ability to extend their three-foot-long appendages and then shapeshift into the form of a basket to catch small prey like shellfish. These tiny creatures have no idea what fate awaits them until they are completely hooked inside the basket star, whose appendages are described as similar to barbed wire.
They Split Into Two
Dave Pawson, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, claims that the basket star has the ability to split in half and continue operating as two separate entities, which is pretty weird. In an interview, Pawson further explained: "This species has been observed by thousands of scuba-diving scientists and amateurs over many years, and none have apparently reported asexual reproduction in this species."
Don’t be surprised if you run into the Onespot Fringehead the next time you’re swimming in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico, San Martin Island, or Baja, California. These 9.8-inch-long sea creatures are plentiful around these water regions. And they live up to their name as they have fringe on the top of their heads. They also have lips that extend past their eyes and they have tons of conical teeth.
They Nest in Beer Bottles
Onespot Fringehead females lay a ton of eggs when breeding. How much is a ton? Try anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 eggs. But you won’t believe where they lay their eggs. While Fringeheads often nest on the bottom of rocks or clam burrows, researchers have learned that they also nest in the oddest place of all—empty beer bottles that have somehow made their way to the ocean floor.
The Silfra Crack
The Silfra Crack or Silfra Rift is located at the Thingvellir National Park in Iceland and attracts hundreds of divers year-round because the water is so clear. This allows them to enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery and interesting sea life below the waves. But underwater photography has spotted something unusual that suggests there’s something happening to the Silfra Crack.
The Silfra Crack is Getting Wider
Images taken of the area show that the Silfra Crack is widening. In other words, the North American continental plate and the Eurasian plate are pulling apart in a westward direction. But Doctor Christopher Scotese isn’t too worried. He created a map indicating what the world will look like in about 250 million years and it suggests that all of the planet’s landmasses will come together to become one giant landmass.