An ocean as large as ours could not possibly exist without a deep library of unsolved stories and unresolved sightings to wet sailor's appetites. Whether its shipwrecks, ghost stories or cryptozoology that peaks your interest, Earth's waters hold many stories lacking in explanation but rife with fascination, and we've listed some of the most astonishing here in this blog. From the centuries old urban legends to more modern phenomena, these are 5 amazing mysteries of the high seas.
Many recurring themes of these accounts include the idea that The Flying Dutchman is doomed to never make port, and that it's crew committed a crime that has now cursed them to sail the oceans until the end of time. With so many different sightings and stories, finding a single source of inspiration for the Dutchman is difficult, though many attribute Frisian-born captain Bernard Fokke as a potential model for its captain, due to the exceptional speed of his voyages from the Dutch Republic to Java. Explanations for the ghostly apparitions themselves have mostly been attributed to looming; a light refraction phenomena that can make it appear that boats are floating on the horizon.
The abandoned Mary Celeste was discovered on December 5th 1972 by the Del Gratia, with slightly torn sails and sailing erratically. They quickly discovered no one on board; just a lot of water between decks and its single lifeboat missing. Because there was no sign of struggle or violence, nor a great absence of food and supplies, piracy and mutiny have been ruled out. One of the few things probably true is that Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew - which included his wife and daughter - probably abandoned ship in a hurry, though for reasons we may never really know.
There are no shortage of ideas trying to solve this maritime mystery. Five US departments investigated the ship, and postulated hurricanes, piracy, a communist plot, smugglers and mutiny as valid ideas. The known conflicts between captain, first mate and crew suggest the latter is the most likely, as does the fact that the last man to hail the vessel was not an officer, let alone the captain. It's also been tied to a number of paranormal explanations, one of which we'll look at in just a moment...
Every culture has had it's mythological sea beasts, from the Hydra, Kraken and Leviathan to France's collosal Octopus/Walrus Iku-Turso, the Maori shark-like Taniwha and the unnerving Japanese Umibozu. Like a number of history's famous terrors, often what was considered strange and unnatural is now well accounted for, with many one-time sea monsters now confirmed to be different Pinnipeds, or surviving specimens of prehistoric giant marine reptiles. There have been numerous alleged washed up carcasses, such as the St. Augustine Monster and the Chilean Blob, and whilst they may look convincing in the photos above, most have been proven to be nothing more than the remaining tissue, blubber and corpses of sperm whales.
The supernatural explanations for the Bermuda Triangle cite bits of extraordinary technology left over from the lost continent of Atlantis and the ships being targets for alien abduction, to name a few. In terms of plausible ideas, the gulf stream, tropical cyclones, unstable weather conditions, methane hydrates (which can decrease the density of the water) and (as always) human error are most commonly put forward. Though there's nothing that strongly suggests ships and planes behave differently in the triangle than anywhere else, as long as mysterious disappearances continue to occur (as they tragically still are) the intrigue will forever persist.
These are just some of the most well known mysteries of the sea, and we'd love to know the ones that always peak your interest. Have you had a strange sighting at sea that you just haven't been able to find an explanation for? Post them below in the comments, or you can share them with us on our Facebook page, Twitter or Google+.