Water covers 71% of the Earth, and we know less about the ocean floor than we do about the moon’s surface. It’s no surprise that people find strange things underwater every year. But for every abandoned shoe or shipwreck, there’s something that catches people entirely off-guard.
If you’ve already heard about skeletons found in water, how about fake skeletons tied to chairs? What about a land-grown forest ending up at the bottom of a lake? A ton of weird objects, natural phenomena, and even people have ended up several feet underwater. Keep reading to learn about the strangest finds.
An Ancient Greek Computer
In 1901, scientists found several historical artifacts on the seafloor near the Greek island of Antikythera. One artifact looks like a bronze disc with a gear wheel embedded inside. It remained unnoticed until 2006 when a team of researchers discovered that it was history’s first analog computer.
The Antikythera mechanism, as it’s called, worked like a clock that tracked astrological events. The artifact recorded the movements of planets, moon phases, solstices, and equinoxes. Researchers are still trying to figure out how the mechanism operated.
A Government Meeting
In October 2009, President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives organized an urgent meeting with 13 other government officials. They grabbed their desks, paperwork, and scuba gear, and they all met underwater. The meeting took place 20 feet below the sea level of Girifushi, a military island.
The meeting raised awareness of global warming and the dangers of rising sea levels. Using hand signals, the representatives of 11 countries agreed to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. “We have to get the message across by being more imaginative, more creative,” President Nasheed said on a boat en route to his meeting.
A Military Fleet
In 1944, the Allied forces bombed a Japanese fleet in the Caroline Islands. Around 250 Japanese aircraft were destroyed, and 50 ships sank in what is known as Japan’s Pearl Harbor. The planes, bulldozers, motorcycles, ships, and tanks remained undiscovered at the bottom of the ocean in the 1960s.
When the craft were discovered in 1969, several bodies still rested in the ships and tanks. The Japanese removed the corpses for a proper burial, but the fleet remains. It is now known as Chuuk Lagoon and has become famous for its ghastly abandoned remains.
An Underwater River
Along the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, divers can head underwater to find another river. This underwater river, as its called, is actually a hydrogen sulfide cloud that forms the mirage of another river. The chemicals float to conceal the clear, freshwater underneath.
The underwater river formed from a cenote, which is a sinkhole of collapsed limestone. Even so, the “river” functions as a normal river because leaves, branches, and silt gather on the shore. Divers who go there are in for a surreal treat.
Fake Skeletons Tied To Chairs
In 2015, a diver encountered a shock while exploring the Colorado River. He called the police to report two skeletons tied to lawn chairs. When the authorities explored the river, they were relieved to learn that the skeletons were fake. But that only heightened the mystery.
The fake skeletons, which wore wigs and sunglasses, sat upright as if attending a tea party. Police officers think that whoever put the skeletons there was trying to be funny, not scary. Authorities still thanked the diver for making the call.
A Marble Crucifix
Twenty-two feet under the water in Lake Michigan, there’s an 11-foot-tall statue of Jesus on the cross. A life-sized Jesus is 5’5″, and the entire sculpture is made from marble. The sculpture was made in 1956 after a 15-year-old Italian boy died in an accident. His family commissioned the sculpture in his honor.
In the early 2000s, the Little Traverse Bay Diving Club bought the 1,850-pound (385 kg) statue. They moved it to another spot in Lake Michigan, where it was lowered into the water as a tribute to a fellow diver who lost his life nearby. When the weather permits, divers can visit it.
At the bottom of Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish in Washington state, you’ll find ancient underwater forests. Scientists believe that an enormous earthquake shattered Seattle Fault around 900 C.E. The earthquake created a landslide, and the trees slid into the lake bed while still standing up.
Diving in the underwater forest is dangerous because divers can easily become lost and disoriented. According to researchers, the trees are no longer alive. But their skeletons still stand tall in the eerie, Blair Witch-like atmosphere of a lake.
Three Hundred Stone People
Throughout his career, artist Jason deCaires Taylor has become famous for creating waterproof stone sculptures. His largest art project appeared in 2017 when 300 life-sized sculptures landed on the seafloor of UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserve. It is called Museo Atlántico.
Divers who explore the coast of Lanzarote Island meet a haunting scene. Stone people walk along the seafloor, sit in boats, take selfies, and even lie in a circular pile. The sculptures will survive in the ocean for hundreds of years, according to Taylor.
A Train Graveyard
In 2013, archaeologists found something odd off the coast of New Jersey: trains. Two locomotives from the 1850s had somehow ended up under 90 feet of water. Archaeologists still aren’t sure how the trains got there since they have no records of when the trains were made or where they were going.
The 35-ton trains were Planet Class 2-2-2 T models, which were only made for a short time in the 1850s. A man named Paul Hepler found the trains accidentally while he was mapping the coastline in 1985.
An Apollo Moon Rocket
Between 1967 and 1973, 13 Saturn V rockets launched into space. Built to send people to the moon, Saturn Vs were used during the Apollo missions. In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his team found one Saturn V rocket in the Atlantic Ocean.
The team was searching for crashed F-1 engines, but they ended up finding the structure of an entire rocket. Unfortunately, nobody could tell which mission the rocket went on since its serial number has eroded.
An Abandoned Nightclub
The Nymphas Show Bar in Eilat, Israel, provides adult entertainment for locals and tourists alike. At least, it would, if it weren’t several feet underwater. Marine biologist Gil Koplovitz caught pictures of the underwater club, but even he doesn’t know how long it’s been submerged.
According to Koplovitz, the Nymphas Show Bar was built on a pier 230 feet (70 m) from the shore. When Koplovitz snapped photos of it in 2017, the club still had an active website, but it’s now defunct. It seems to have been entirely forgotten.
An 80-Foot-Tall Artificial Kraken
Because natural reefs are dying at an alarming rate, artists and scientists are creating artificial reefs to support marine wildlife. One of the most incredible artificial reefs is shaped like an 80-foot-tall Kraken. The art piece wraps around a World War II fuel barge that survived Pearl Harbor.
The BVI Art Reef is both an art piece and a reef. The mesh used for the Kraken supports coral growth so that an ecosystem can grow around it. In 2017, the BVI Art Reef near the British Virgin Islands. It is now open to divers.
A Museum Of Art
In 2018, America’s first underwater art museum opened off the coast of Florida. The Underwater Museum of Art contains several sculptures that guests can see while scuba diving. The artworks stand among a coral reef and native fish.
The museum entrance is free, as long as you know how to dive. Contributing artist Allison Wickey hopes that the museum will bring attention to preserving the Gulf of Mexico. Every time guests dive in, they’ll see different species of fish swim by.
If you want to go for a springtime stroll in Green Lake Park, Austria, you’ll have to grab your scuba gear. Every year, snow melts from the nearby Karst Mountains. The runoff causes Green Lake to double in size, drowning the entire park underwater. Divers can swim past benches, trails, and bridges that people could walk across any other time of year.
Green Lake usually floods between mid-May and mid-July. Over 1,300 sq feet (4,000 sq m) long and 40 feet (12 m) deep, the diving opportunities are endless. Even the trees are happy under all that water.
$194 Million In Silver From World War II
In 2011, a US exploration team found a sunken ship from World War II, the SS Gairsoppa, off the coast of Ireland. Although a shipwreck isn’t unusual, Gairsoppa’s cargo held something surprising. The explorers found 200 tons of silver bars.
The silver added up to £150 million today, or $194 million. The original crew was on their way to Ireland when they were attacked; only one crew member survived. The bars were melted and sold. Part of the funds went to the explorers, while the rest went to the UK Treasury.
If you dive a few miles off the coast of Miami, Florida, you may find underwater stone roads, gates, and buildings. Are they ancient ruins? Actually, no. It’s the Neptune Memorial Reef, built in 2007. The starfish and shell-shaped molds hold cremated remains.
Family members can decide which part of the reef their deceased relative’s remains will join. There are fifteen cremation structures to choose from, such as lions, columns, and even benches. After the burial, relatives can visit the graves for free anytime they want. Currently, a few hundred people are laid to rest there.
A Possible Alien Relic
In 2011, a Swedish diving team received a “blurry but interesting” sonar picture from the Baltic Sea. They claimed that it was a 200-foot circular object with stairs, ramps, and other unusual features. When the team tried to get better pictures, they encountered a “mysterious electrical interference.”
The event became known as the Baltic Sea Anomaly, although scientists recently solved it in 2020. The object is actually a glacial deposit, likely made from volcanic rock. Even so, the original Swedish team maintains that the structure was not natural.
An Ancient Japanese Pyramid
Dive near the southern coast of Yonaguni, Japan, and you may see the remains of a 10,000-year-old pyramid. That’s what happened when a diver discovered the structure in 1986. Although scientists have studied the Yonaguni Monument for decades, they are still baffled by it.
Most researchers agree that the Yonaguni Monument is a series of human-made steps built into the side of a mountain. Some speculate that the ruins could belong to an ancient civilization that was previously undiscovered. Perhaps more research will uncover the secrets of the pyramid soon.
Mel Fisher, a famous treasure hunter, went to Key West, Florida to search for a $450 million jackpot. Off the coast, one team member found an uncut emerald. Then another. And another. Soon, divers found around 10,000 raw emeralds, and they coined the area “Emerald City.”
Around 70 pounds of emeralds were removed from the ocean, with the largest stone being 887 carats. Members of Fisher’s crew stuffed the emeralds into anything they had, including empty peanut jars. Much of it went to Fisher’s charity, Mel Fisher Days.
An Ancient Chinese City
A real-life Atlantis lies at the bottom of the Qiando Lake in China. Founded 1,400 years ago, Shicheng City now sits 130 feet (40 m) underwater. In 1959, Shicheng was flooded intentionally to form the Xin’anjiang Reservoir, but that didn’t happen before 300,000 people left the area.
Shicheng remained forgotten until 2001 when the Chinese government sent an expedition to find the sunken city. Despite being underwater, Shicheng looks almost exactly as it did before 1959. Today, divers can swim among gates and lion carvings that date back to the Han Dong dynasty.