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4 of the Most Fascinating Maritime Mysteries

Taryn Smee

The Baltic Sea Anomaly

In 2011, a group of divers who were exploring the floor of the Baltic Sea with sonar stumbled across an object measuring 70-meter long (210 feet) laying 100 metres (300 feet) beneath the waves. The object, dubbed the Baltic Sea Anomaly, has sparked international interest due to its intriguing shape and location.

The anomaly appears to have been handcrafted and made of metal and has an uncanny resemblance to the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, leading many conspiracy theories about its origin. Some have suggested that the anomaly is a UFO while others have suggested that it is a formation from a sunken city, buried beneath the waves.

The Baltic Sea Anomaly (YouTube)

The Baltic Sea Anomaly (YouTube)

In 2017, a team from Stockholm university studied the anomaly and found that it is a glacial formation deposit, probably left over from the Ice Age. As Volker Brüchert, an associate professor of geology at Stockholm University, discusses with the Express, “Because the whole northern Baltic region is so heavily influenced by glacial thawing processes, both the feature and the rock samples are likely to have formed in connection with glacial and postglacial processes.”

Mary Celeste

Mary Celeste in 1861

Mary Celeste in 1861

On December 5th, 1872 the Mary Celeste was discovered floating adrift on choppy seas. The ship had left New York City for Genoa, Italy on the 7th November 1872 with a cargo of industrial alcohol and a ten-man crew but when the rescue party boarded, they were surprised to find the crew had vanished, leaving behind their cargo, their possessions and a fully stocked food parlor.

The young Arthur Conan Doyle, whose 1884 short story did much to disseminate Mary Celeste myths

The young Arthur Conan Doyle, whose 1884 short story did much to disseminate Mary Celeste myths

The ship’s lifeboat was missing, and one of the two pumps was disassembled, and there was three and a half feet of water in the hold. The crew were never seen again, and the mystery has remained unsolved for 300 years.

A waterspout, photographed off Florida (1969). A waterspout strike has been offered as a possible solution to the Mary Celeste mystery.

A waterspout, photographed off Florida (1969). A waterspout strike has been offered as a possible solution to the Mary Celeste mystery.

Theories range from the ridiculous to the scholarly, the most implausible being giant sea monsters and the more believable being that bad weather (possibly a waterspout) and faulty equipment led the captain to miscalculate that the ship was sinking so ordered the crew to abandon ship.

The Sunken City of Pavlopetri – the Real Atlantis?

Overview of Pavlopetri. Photo by Spiridon Ion Cepleanu CC BY SA 3.0

Overview of Pavlopetri. Photo by Spiridon Ion Cepleanu CC BY SA 3.0

The site has been dubbed the oldest sunken city in the world and dates to around 5,000 years ago. It is the oldest submerged site that has been found to be a planned city with buildings, courtyards, main streets, rock-cut tombs, and religious structures, showing that the city was used by the elites of the time.

Pavlopetri Photo by Spiridon Ion Cepleanu CC BY SA 3.0

Pavlopetri Photo by Spiridon Ion Cepleanu CC BY SA 3.0

It is the first sunken city to be found that predates Plato’s story of Atlantis and may have been the inspiration for it. Marine geologists speculate that the city was sunken by a combination of sea level changes, changes in ground subsistence and a tsunami.

Where is the Patanela? Australia’s Enduring Maritime Mystery

Message in a bottle resting on shore during sunset

Message in a bottle resting on shore during sunset

When the Patanela left from Fremantle, Australia on October 16, 1988 nobody on board thought this would be their last voyage. About three weeks into their journey from Fremantle to Airlie Beach, Queensland the Patanela made a series of calls to Sydney harbor shore station.

The first call indicated that the Patanela had run out of petrol and would need bringing into harbor the next day; the second call was for a weather report then, strangely, in the same call, the skipper asked for directions to Moruya in New South Wales; the third call was heavy with static, and all that could be made out was the sentence “Three hundred kilometers south? Is it south? Is it? South…” This was the last time anyone heard from the Patanela and its four-person crew.

Seven months later a barnacle-covered bouy from the schooner was found and then in 2008 when a message in a bottle was found and inside was a 1988 invitation to join the crew for a free trip to the Whitsunday Islands and a phone number to call.

Read another story from us: 4 of the World’s Lost Underwater Cities

Many speculate that the Patanela was a victim of piracy or drug runners while others think it was hit by a bigger boat and left to sink. There is no evidence to support either theory, and the mystery continues to this day.