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.

High Sea Mysteries

#1 - The Flying Dutchman

Its presence as a centre-stage set piece in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels may have lead you believe this to be another Hollywood invention, but in actuality The Flying Dutchman is a myth who's ripples stretch throughout the history of sailing. The origins of this legendary ghost ship came about through stories from ship crews beginning as early as the late 18th century, with some of its more notable 'eye-witnesses' include pioneer and author George Barrington, and even King George V.

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.

#2 - Mary Celeste

The Mary Celeste was 282-gross ton brigatine and merchant ship that is renowned for disappearing in 1872, before being found that same year in-tact, but with her crew completely vanished. Even before the time of her famous abandonment, she had already had a captain die of pneumonia at the start of her maiden voyage, had numerous collisions with vessels on the sea, and even her final owner eventually destroyed the ship by wrecking her off the coast in Haiti in an insurance fraud attempt.

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.

#3 - Caroll A. Deering

Arguably one of the most written about ghost-ships of all time, the Carroll A. Deering's story is much like that of the previous unexplained vessel. The five-masted commercial schooner was found run aground in 1921, with her crew gone, along with their log, navigation equipment, personal effects and the two lifeboats. Unlike the Mary Celeste, which was found flooded but still seaworthy, the Carroll A Deering was beyond salvage, and was eventually scuttled using dynamite.

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...

#4 - Sea Monsters

The fantastic thing about the deep ocean is how indescribable and otherworldly its inhabitants look; even James Cameron's excellent documentary on the ecosystems of the Mid-Ocean Ridges was called 'Aliens of the Deep'. But these creatures don't necessarily defy explanation, not like the wealth of predators and beasts that are housed under the umbrella of the 'Sea' Monsters'. From Greek mythology to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, no sea-dwelling sighting or legend has been too extreme, but what truth is there to any of it?

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.

#5 - The Bermuda Triangle

We mentioned before the tie-in between the Caroll A. Deering disappearance and the hugely interesting Bermuda Triangle, but it's but one drop in a bucket of mysteries for this strange ocean region in the North Atlantic Ocean. Quite a few ships, as well as planes, are claimed to be victims of the Triangle, such as the USS Cyclops' disappearance, five Avenger torpedo bombers that mysteriously vanished, and the loss of the Connemara IV pleasurecraft in 1955.

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+.

Post By Graham