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Voyaging into the Deep Unknown: Exploring the Uncharted Oceans | Gurugrah



The oceans are vast bodies of saltwater that cover over 70% of the Earth's surface and are essential for life on our planet. The five main oceans are the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans. They are interconnected, forming a global network that circulates water and helps regulate the Earth's climate and weather patterns.

The ocean floor is an incredibly diverse landscape, ranging from deep trenches to shallow coral reefs. It is also home to a wide range of geological features, including seamounts, which are underwater mountains that rise from the ocean floor, and mid-ocean ridges, which are long mountain ranges that run through the oceans and play a significant role in the movement of tectonic plates and the formation of new Earth crust.

The oceans play a crucial role in the Earth's climate system. They absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which help regulate the planet's temperature. They also act as heat sinks, storing and releasing heat over time, which helps to regulate weather patterns and ocean currents. The ocean currents, in turn, distribute heat and moisture around the globe, affecting regional climates and weather patterns.

The oceans are also incredibly important for life on Earth. They are home to a vast array of species, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales. The ocean provides a habitat for many species of fish and other marine animals that are important sources of food for people around the world. The oceans also play a critical role in global commerce, as major shipping lanes traverse their waters, transporting goods and resources between countries and continents.

However, the oceans are facing a range of challenges, including overfishing, pollution, and the impacts of climate change. The increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are causing the oceans to acidify, which is having a profound impact on the health of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems. Plastic pollution is another significant issue, with millions of tons of plastic waste entering the oceans each year, which is harmful to marine life and the overall health of the oceans.

Efforts are being made to protect the oceans and their ecosystems. This includes measures to reduce plastic pollution, such as the introduction of laws and regulations aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastics, as well as increased recycling and waste management efforts. The creation of marine protected areas, where fishing and other human activities are restricted, is another important step in preserving the health of the oceans and the species that call them home.

In conclusion, the oceans are vast and complex systems that play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate and weather patterns, as well as supporting life on our planet. However, they are facing a range of challenges, from pollution and overfishing to the impacts of climate change. It is essential that we work together to protect the oceans and their ecosystems so that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits they provide.

How much of the ocean have we explored?

Despite covering over 70% of the Earth's surface, the ocean remains one of the least explored frontiers on our planet. Although we have a basic understanding of the geography and geology of the ocean floor, much of the ocean remains a mystery. The vast majority of the ocean is still completely untouched and unexplored, and only a small fraction has been studied in any detail.

According to estimates, we have only explored about 5% of the ocean. This is largely due to the challenges posed by the deep ocean environment, which is difficult and expensive to access. The ocean is incredibly vast, dark, and inhospitable, and the deep ocean is one of the harshest environments on Earth, with crushing pressures, freezing temperatures, and complete darkness. The lack of light and the immense pressures make it difficult to use traditional exploration techniques such as diving, and only a small number of submersibles are capable of reaching the deep ocean.

Despite these challenges, there have been some significant advances in our understanding of the ocean in recent years. The use of advanced technologies, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), has allowed us to explore deeper and further into the ocean than ever before. These vehicles are equipped with a variety of scientific instruments and cameras, which allow us to collect data and images from the ocean floor.

One of the key areas of ocean exploration has been the study of the deep ocean trenches, which are some of the deepest and least explored parts of the ocean. The Mariana Trench, for example, is over 36,000 feet deep and is the deepest part of the ocean. Although the Mariana Trench has been known since the late 19th century, it was not until the 1960s that a human-occupied submersible was able to reach its depths. Today, a number of scientific expeditions are exploring the trenches, using ROVs and AUVs to study the unique environments and life forms that exist in these extreme environments.

Another important area of ocean exploration has been the study of undersea mountains, such as seamounts and guyots. Seamounts are underwater mountains that rise from the ocean floor and are thought to provide important habitats for a wide range of marine species. Guyots are flat-topped seamounts that are thought to be the remnants of ancient volcanic islands that were eroded and subsided over time. The study of seamounts and guyots is important for understanding the evolution of the ocean and the distribution of life in the ocean.

In addition to these targeted explorations, there have been a number of ocean mapping projects that have been aimed at producing detailed maps of the ocean floor. These maps are critical for understanding the geography and geology of the ocean, as well as for identifying areas that are important for conservation and management. The most comprehensive ocean mapping project to date is the Seabed 2030 project, which aims to map the entire ocean floor by 2030.

Despite the advances that have been made in ocean exploration, much of the ocean remains uncharted and unexplored. As our understanding of the ocean grows, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that the ocean is a vital and complex system that plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate and weather patterns, as well as supporting life on our planet. With continued exploration and research, we can continue to unlock the secrets of the ocean and gain a better understanding of its importance to our world.

In conclusion, the ocean remains one of the least explored frontiers on Earth, with only a small fraction of the ocean having been studied in any detail. The vast majority of the ocean is still completely untouched and unexplored, and much of what we do know about the ocean has been learned

Why does so much of the ocean remain unexplored and unprotected?

Scientists have successfully photographed a black hole, landed rovers on Mars, and sent spacecraft to the dark side of the moon. Yet, one of the last unknown frontiers – and one of the most deceptively familiar – is on our very own planet.

More than 80% of the ocean remains unexplored. And because it’s difficult to protect what we don’t know, only about 7% of the world’s oceans are designated as marine protected areas (MPAs).

With this in mind, we explain why a body of water that covers most of Earth’s surface is also one of the most vulnerable – and least understood – places in the universe.

Under pressure

One of the biggest challenges of ocean exploration comes down to physics. Dr. Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explains that the ocean, at great depths, is characterized by zero visibility, extremely cold temperatures, and crushing amounts of pressure.

“In some ways, it’s a lot easier to send people into space than it is to send people to the bottom of the ocean,” Feldman told Oceana. “The intense pressures in the deep ocean make it an extremely difficult environment to explore.”

Although you don’t notice it, the pressure of the air pushing down on your body at sea level is about 15 pounds per square inch. If you went up into space, above the Earth’s atmosphere, the pressure would decrease to zero. However, if you went diving or hitched a ride in an underwater vehicle, those forces would start to stack up the further down you went.

a Of course, human-occupied submersibles aren’t the only way to explore and study the ocean. We can even learn some lessons from space. Feldman specializes in satellite technologies that record the color of the ocean as a means of measuring the distribution and abundance of phytoplankton, which can change rapidly and even double in a day.

When these technologies were first used in the late ‘70s, satellites were able to capture detailed images of the ocean within minutes, while it would take a ship 10 years of continuous sampling to collect the same number of measurements, according to Feldman.

With that said, some things are better measured in the water – however difficult it may be to get there.

‘Bearing witness

Ocean exploration technologies have come a long way. Floats and drifters, devices that rely on ocean currents to carry them while they collect data, have been complemented in recent years by an ever-sophisticated fleet of underwater vehicles. This can include human-occupied vehicles (HOVs), remotely-operated ones (ROVs), and autonomous and hybrid ones.

In a recent webinar hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, film director and ocean enthusiast James Cameron called for an “all-of-the-above” approach, but also highlighted the value of continuing to plunge people into the great unknown. In 2012, Cameron set a record when he visited the Mariana Trench – the deepest part of the ocean – in a “vertical torpedo” sub.

“I call it bearing witness,” Cameron said. “There’s something very exciting about being physically present and using all of your senses. Plus, you can come back and tell the story, and that engages an audience. The most important aspect of exploration, in my mind, is coming back and telling the tale.”

Oceana uses a combination of technologies on its expeditions, which have charted previously unexplored waters, including areas off of Southern California, several seamounts in the Canary Islands, and a deep trench south of Malta. Another seamount near Morocco, which was also previously unexplored, led to the discovery of a deep-sea coral reef – the only one of its kind that is still growing in the Mediterranean Sea.

In Europe’s biodiversity hotspots, expeditions resulted in the first-ever record of a live brown-snout spookish, as well as the documentation of two starfish species, one black coral, and one stony coral that were previously thought to only live in the Atlantic Ocean.

And in Chile, following Oceana expeditions which recorded the rich and unique marine life in the Desventuradas and Juan Fernández islands, the government was persuaded to make those places marine parks. A multiple-use MPA was also established in the Caleta Tortel commune following multiple Oceana expeditions.

While the benefits are undeniable, expeditions are expensive, and the lack of detailed maps and data make them all the more challenging.

Ricardo Aguilar, the leader of Oceana’s expeditions in Europe, said they can’t bank on bathymetric information – which can serve as a guide to an area’s underwater terrain – because in most cases it doesn’t exist.

“We only have good information on less than 5% of the world’s oceans, and maybe sparse information on another 10%,” Aguilar said. “Therefore, how can we protect areas where we have no clue what is there?”

Herein lies the catch-22: We need exploration to collect more information, but many agencies around the world are reluctant to fund projects where there are too many unknowns.

“There seems to be an increasing trend towards avoiding risk at all costs, which means that you often have to prove that you know all the answers before you can even start your investigation,” Feldman said. “But this is the wrong approach. Science is not only about having the answers. Science is really about asking the questions.”

Evidence, not excuses

Oceana has protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean to date, and expeditions have been crucial to this success. Expeditions yield photographs, video footage, scientific data, and narratives that can all be used to bolster the case for new or expanded protections.

“By exploring previously unexplored areas, we have been able to discover new species and new habitats, but also to identify vulnerable habitats or threatened species that were protected ‘on paper,’ but because nobody knew they could be found in these places, there were no measures to effectively protect them,” Aguilar said.

“One of the most common excuses governments have used for not taking action is the lack of information to choose which areas to protect and how to manage them. Also, the opposition of different stakeholders to creating new MPAs was due to this lack of data.”

Oceanna endorses plan to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030, a goal known as 30×30. While the world still has a long way to go, continued ocean exploration can supply the evidence needed to protect the ocean and the many resources it provides.

Even though data is useful, Feldman says a compelling case for MPAs can still be made when the reverse is true. Because scientists do not have a complete understanding of how one change to the ocean affects the entire ecosystem – and which of those changes may be the tipping point that causes collapse – it is common sense that areas should be designated for protection and further research.

“Since we don’t know how all the pieces fit together, setting aside areas where we just say, ‘We’re leaving these alone’ or ‘We’re going to have minimal intervention’ is perhaps the safest thing to do until we know better,” Feldman said. “The idea of setting aside areas that are environmentally important and unique is probably a really smart move until we can get smarter about how we manage the ocean.”

How many undiscovered creatures are there in the ocean?

“The oceans cover 70% of the surface of our planet, and yet they are still the least explored,” says Sir David Attenborough in the opening sequence of the recent BBC documentary series Blue Planet II. “Hidden beneath the waves, there are creatures beyond our imagination.” Yet while the programme reveals the wonders of many of these species, an incredible number more have never been encountered by humans at all.

In fact, we don’t even know how many species exist in the oceans. Most estimates were made before we even had any inventory of how many had been scientifically named – they have ranged from 0.3m to an astounding 100m. Numerous new marine species are discovered every year – yet working out how many species there are in total (and so how many more we need to describe) is a much more difficult process. But now we at least have the essential foundation of knowing how many marine species have been named, thanks to a decade-long collaborative effort by hundreds of scientists.

Scientists have used a variety of methods to estimate the global number of marine species and each has its limitations. Data isn’t always reliable and the assumptions of each method can be flawed. A common method is to scale up the fraction of unknown species estimated in a specific sample or region. Other methods rely on our system of taxonomic classification (the way we name and group different species). We can use the rate of discovery of new families and orders or the rate at which new species are described to estimate the total number of species there must be.

Some methods have used expert opinion on how many unknown species are expected in a particular group the expert works on, based on potential new species that they know of but haven’t yet been described. According to a study from 2012, the average time between the discovery of a new species and its description is 21 years.

Because each method relies on assumptions and particular datasets, they have resulted in wide variations in estimates. The very high estimates (any larger than 10m) is now thought unlikely by many, but current common estimates still vary between around 0.3m and 2m marine species.

A new way of recording species

This means that, after 250 years of describing, naming, and cataloging the species we share our planet with, we are still a long way off from achieving a complete census. But we do know that 242,500 marine species have been described because their names are now managed in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) by about 300 scientists located all over the world.

Every year, almost 2,000 marine species new to sciemollusksnce are added to the register.

This includes species from relatively well-known groups such as fish, almost 1,500 of which were described in the past decade. Most undiscovered creatures likely remain in the least explored habitats such as the deep oceans, the most diverse environments such as tropical shallow seas, and the most diverse groups including mollusks and crustaceans.

What other weird creatures are waiting to be discovered? Shutterstock

Most of these species are probably “macro” sized (1 mm to 10 cm) seabed-living crustaceans, mollusks and worms. We’ve found just over 6,000 new marine crustaceans and almost 8,000 marine mollusks in the past ten years. A recent finding of 28 new amphipod crustacean species doubled the number of them known in Antarctic waters.

Taxonomists are busy collecting, identifying, and describing new species of marine animals all the time. The process from the collection of a sample to the publication of a species as new to science is arduous and time-consuming. All characteristics of the animal need to be carefully examined and compared with every other closely related species.

This now often requires DNA analysis which provides additional data for later researchers to be able to identify the new species by its genetic “barcode”. Once the data from a new species has been published in a scientific journal, the Worms taxonomic editor responsible for that group of species enters the information and makes it openly available to all users worldwide.

Since the Worms was founded in 2007, the number of species on the list has doubled from 120,000 to 242,500. The number of names in the database is actually almost double this figure (477,700) but many of them are not valid because of duplication or changes to species classification.

Naming species helps conservation

Keeping an up-to-date list of the world’s marine species isn’t just for interest but is also important for protecting our oceans. Extinctions from habitat loss and climate change are progressing at alarming rates. Around 20% of marine species are at risk of extinction and we urgently need to document what is happening in order to better understand why and how to prevent it.

Biodiversity also underpins many features of the environment that humans depend on. Each new species discovered could provide opportunities for advances in medicine or agriculture.

Worms have brought us closer to a complete assessment of our marine biodiversity than ever before. Perhaps this model of real-time online collaboration between experts around the world – and a centralized database with a professional data center – could be used to provide a continuously updated, freely available, comprehensive database of all species on Earth. Until then, we will continue to marvel at how much we still don’t know.

What Is the Deepest Part of the Ocean? So Much Is Still Unexplored

For most of human history, humankind had looked up at the sky and wondered what was out there. And it wasn’t until less than a century ago that we finally got a realistic glimpse of it. Yet while scientists take pictures of black holes and send rovers to long-dead planets, one of the last unknown frontiers remains largely unexplored. Water covers more than 70 percent of the globe, and so much of the ocean is still unexplored. This persistent mystery may leave you wondering, what is the deepest part of the ocean? And what creatures dwell in those uncharted inky depths?

According to Oceanna, more than 80 percent of the ocean still remains unexplored. It might seem a rather large number, considering that humankind has explored and settled in every other corner of the globe and beyond, but the deepest parts of the ocean are largely inaccessible by we who breathe oxygen to survive. And while oxygen is the main reason for our inability to reach these uncharted corners of the map, it is not the only one.

Human scientists are under tremendous pressure to find and explore new places, both on this planet and beyond the stars. And while there may be no physical pressure in the vastness of space, there is a great deal of pressure in the deepest parts of our own oceans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the atmospheric pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench (more on the trench in just a moment) is approximately 16,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). Compare that to the 14.7 PSI in say, your home office, and you’ve got a real problem with squishy human bodies — to say nothing of submersibles.

What is the deepest part of the ocean?

The deepest part of the ocean lies in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Guam and the Philippines. It is called the Marianas Trench and it is located at an astonishing 35,814 feet below sea level. At the very bottom of that great undersea gorge is the Challenger Deep — the deepest point known on Earth. As with the other unexplored ocean places, we don’t know much about what lives down there. Nevertheless, the things we have discovered are as alien as anything we might hope to find on another planet.

What lives in the deepest part of the ocean?

The fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates that dwell in the deepest parts of the ocean don’t look or behave like anything you might expect. Many readers may be familiar with the strange, glowing, fang-mouthed monstrosities that live in the abyssopelagic zone. Creatures like lanternfish, hatchet fish, and gulper eels live in a literal abyss, blinking blindly while they shimmer in otherworldly bioluminescence.

The deepest parts of the ocean lie even deeper still. While the abyssopelagic zone is about 13,000 to 20,000 feet deep, the very deepest, the hadopelagic zone can be as deep as 20,000 feet or deeper. The fish and animals we have observed there are even more unusual. Many are small, translucent, and completely bereft of scales or sight. Yet all of them are uniquely adapted to live in those extreme pressures and without even the barest trace of sunlight.

Some, including the giant tube worm, live near hydrothermal vents and feed on tiny bacteria that get their energy directly from the chemicals in the water. The water around these vents may be boiling but it’s rich in minerals and chemicals that the creatures who have evolved to live there need to survive. The tube worms can also grow to be over eight feet tall. And they are just one of the remarkable animals that survive in these inhospitable places.

Why is it so difficult to explore the deep ocean?

According to NASA oceanographer Dr.Gene Feldman, the hardest part of exploring the oceans is due to physics. At those great depths, the zero visibility, extremely cold temperatures, and crushing pressure are a lethal combination for even the bravest and most well-equipped explorers. Feldman is even quoted as saying:

“In some ways, it’s a lot easier to send people into space than it is to send people to the bottom of the ocean... The intense pressures in the deep ocean make it an extremely difficult environment to explore.”

Underwater vehicles are also prohibitively expensive to build and to buy. They must be able to survive the high pressure and the cold, and so must their occupants. Not only that, the cameras, sonar, and delicate computer equipment that they usually carry need to have similar durability. As a result, only a small portion of the Earth’s oceans have been explored. According to NOAA, only about 35 percent of the ocean and coastal waters of the U.S. have been mapped using modern methods of sonar.

Are the deep oceans in danger?

Unfortunately, this largely unexplored series of biomes has also proven to be the most susceptible to things like pollution, plastics, overfishing, climate change, and many more human-created environmental issues. This is where that lack of knowledge presents us with some problems. It is notoriously difficult to protect what we do not understand. Thus, only about 7 percent of the world’s oceans are designated as marine protected areas. That is according to the U.N. World Database on Protected Areas.

That means that the other 93 percent might be just as in peril — we just don’t know enough about it to recognize the danger. Like all oceans though, these deep places undoubtedly need our help. Our actions have affected every other environment on Earth in a negative way, so it stands to reason that even these unexplored places are in danger. We must preserve them, and we must protect them, but meanwhile, scientists will continue to try and understand them.

14 Mysteries of the Ocean Scientists Still Can’t Explain

The ocean floors

Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is below the ocean, yet 95 percent of it remains unexplored to the human eye. Although the oft-heard statistic is that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the ocean seabed, scientists have been able to map the entire ocean floor—but the resolution is incredibly poor, so we can only visualize features larger than three miles. Ongoing research like Seabed 2030 aims to bring the ocean floor into greater focus, so we can better see and understand what’s really down there. For now, we can just marvel at the most stunning deep-sea sights in the world.

Milky sea phenomenon

For hundreds of years, sailors have reported randomly encountering a strange “milky” cast to the sea as far as the eye can see, but scientists have been unable to explain it—or even know for sure if it was real. In 2006, researchers were actually able to capture a satellite image of a milky sea, and several years later, experiments discovered the glow was likely from bioluminescent bacteria that attract fish in order to be eaten and survive in their guts. But scientists still aren’t sure how or why the bacteria gather in such huge numbers as to be able to be seen from space. In addition, their glow is continuous, unlike the more commonly seen “dinoflagellate” organisms that produce brief flashes of light.

Purple orb

In 2016, researchers from Ocean Exploration Trust (founded by oceanographer and Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard) aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus found a strange purple blob on the ocean floor off California. Stumped as to what it could be, the scientists joked about it being a spider egg sac or a “tiny momma octopus,” and nicknamed it Blobs Purples before battling with a crab to retrieve the specimen. It looks kind of like a strange and mesmerizing jellyfish. Research is ongoing as to what the orb is, but it’s hypothesized to be a new species of velutinids, a type of snail. Here are more of the most stunningly beautiful underwater photos ever taken.

Baltic Sea anomaly

Could there be an alien spaceship on the ocean floor? In 2011, ocean explorers found an oval-shaped object with strange markings on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The resulting “images”—which were really created by a graphic artist—of the otherworldly discovery quickly made the rounds on the Internet (the only real visualization is a grainy sonar image). Scientists think the anomaly is actually a glacial deposit or some other natural formation, but its origins are uncertain pending further exploration. Who knows? Of course, whether intelligent alien life exists at all is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries about the universe.

Giant squid

This huge animal could be the mythical Kraken featured in Pirates of the Caribbean and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Although it’s unlikely that the giant squid actually attacked ships, very little is known about this mysterious creature of the deep. It wasn’t even photographed alive until 2004 and not filmed until several years later when it was caught at the surface. The underwater video was not accomplished until 2012. Scientists have learned virtually nothing about the lives of these deep-sea giants, not even how big they get, although some estimates predict they grow up to 66 feet. Only their cousin the colossal squid might be bigger in weight, although probably not in length—but even less is known about them.

Undersea geology

We might not know much about the terrain of the ocean, but what we have seen is just as stunning as what’s on land—and in fact, maybe strikingly similar. “Brine pools,” where the saltwater concentration is greater than the surrounding ocean, create lake-like surfaces and shorelines. Earth’s largest waterfall is underwater in the Denmark Strait, where coscientificlder water tumbles over a huge drop in the ocean floor, falling 11,500 feet (the largest land waterfall is only 3,212 feet). Underwater volcanoes erupt—the largest one ever recently happened, and scientists almost missed it. Although researchers know all of these things exist, their exact mechanisms are still being investigated, making them one of the perplexing science mysteries no one has figured out.

Blue whales

These mysterious giants of the sea are the largest animal to live on Earth—ever. But partially due to the whaling trade hunting them nearly to extinction, plus their slow reproduction, there just aren’t many of them out there to study. As a result, little is known about these elusive creatures, including how long they live, when they reach sexual maturity, or the specifics of their reproduction. The animals’ shyness also makes them hard to observe. In 2017, a video of never-before-seen blue whale behaviour off Sri Lanka caused controversy among experts as to whether or not the rolling and racing caught on camera was a mating ritual. The researchers plan to return this summer to see if they can learn more.

Bloop sound

Nothing like the mysterious “bloop” sound recorded in the South Pacific in 1997 had ever been heard before. It was very loud, low-frequency, and had a unique pattern that made some think it was a newly discovered creature lurking in the depths. (It didn’t help that the sound came from near the location of HP Lovecraft’s fictional sunken city of R’yleh, where a creature called Cthulhu is imprisoned.) Researchers continued to look for the origin of the noise for years, until in 2005 they announced it had been an “icequake,” which occurs when icebergs break off of glaciers. Although that reasoning has been generally accepted, some conspiracy theorists still feel the explanation is a little thin. Check out some less mysterious, but still fascinating, facts you never knew about our oceans.

“Immortal” jellyfish

Could this tiny jelly hold the secret to curing cancer? Smaller than a Pinky nail, this sea creature has the Benjamin Button-like ability to revert back to a polyp stage when threatened with starvation or injury, earning it the nickname “immortal jellyfish” for how it outsmarts death. Although the species had been known about for a hundred years, it wasn’t until the 1990s that this incredible phenomenon was discovered. Scientists still are unsure exactly how its cells are able to regress and regrow, but the immortal jellyfish could hold promise for fighting diseases like cancer in humans.

The Bermuda Triangle

The points of the so-called Bermuda Triangle are Miami, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda—but don’t worry if you’ve booked a trip to any of those destinations. Despite the area being known for the unexplained disappearances of ships and planes, there really isn’t any evidence that it’s more dangerous than anywhere else in the world, or that there’s any supernatural phenomenon at work. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does admit there could be scientific reasons for the disappearances, such as the likelihood of hurricanes, rapid changes in weather due to the Gulf Stream, and the numerous islands in the Caribbean that make for tricky navigation. NOAA also acknowledges that the area could possibly mess with navigational tools, making them point true north as opposed to magnetic north; or that “oceanic flatulence,” a burst of methane gas from the sea, could somehow have affected the vessels and planes.

Mariana Trench

This spot in the ocean off the Mariana Islands near Guam is the deepest point on Earth—nearly seven miles down. In comparison, Mount Everest is only 5.5 miles tall. This little-explored area of the sea has only ever been visited by three people: two oceanographers in 1960, and filmmaker/ocean explorer James Cameron in 2012 in the first solo expedition. In the trench, it’s completely dark and only a few degrees above freezing, with intense pressure of eight tons per square inch. But somehow marine life has managed to survive, even thrive, in such an environment. Further research, though, is needed into the unique ecosystem. And even though it’s so remote, it’s not immune to pollution: Just this year, researchers found evidence of a plastic bag there in a database of images from the trench. Sadly, pollution also affects the other most stunning natural wonders on Earth.

Giant oarfish

Could there be the sea monsters of yore? This snake-like creature is the longest bony fish on Earth and can grow up to 56 feet and weigh 600 pounds. But because they live at depths around 3,300 feet, not much is known about the rarely-seen-alive creature. Two dead oarfish were found on California shores in 2013, prompting scientists to wonder if ominous forces were at work to beach the normally deep-sea animals, as they have been rumoured to wash up before earthquakes. But instead, the incident turned out to be a boon for scientists to be able to study the specimens—since they don’t even know how many species of the fish exist, DNA samples could help researchers figure that out.

The Yonaguni Monument

Are they man-made steps and ancient pyramids that sank in an earthquake, or natural rock formations? These strange structures in the water off the coast of Japan, nicknamed “Japan’s Atlantis,” have baffled scientists since they were found by a diver in 1986. Amazingly, scientists are still arguing if people or Mother Nature created the Yonaguni Monument, as well as whether markings in the stone are carvings of faces and animals or simply naturally made scratches. Today, it’s a popular dive spot with tourists today and continues to puzzle people as one of the ancient mysteries researchers still can’t explain.

The Abyss

We’re not talking about James Cameron’s 1989 movie about researchers who find a deep-sea civilization—but scientists are traveling to the real-life abyss, the area between 13,000 and 20,000 feet under the surface, to discover new marine life. A recent expedition near Australia located hundreds of new species, as well as little-known creatures like the “faceless fish” that hasn’t been seen here since 1873. Other rare specimens the scientists collected include the spiny king crab, the monkey brittle star, the smooth-head Blobfish (yes, that’s its real name), and the deep-sea lizard fish. Who knows what else is down there? We sure don’t—and we don’t know the explanations for these unsolved mysteries about planet Earth, either.


Here is a list of the top 10 biggest ocean discoveries:

1. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge

The mid ocean ridge systems are the largest geological features on the planet. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a mostly underwater mountain range in the Atlantic Ocean that runs from 87°N -about 333km south of the North Pole- to subantarctic Bourdet Island at 54°S. The MAR is about 3 km in height above the ocean floor and 1000 to 1500 km wide, has numerous transform faults and an axial rift valley along its length.

The ridge was discovered in the 1950s. Its discovery led to the theory of seafloor spreading and general acceptance of Wegener's theory of continental drift. The MAR separates the North American Plate from the Eurasian Plate in the North Atlantic, and the South American Plate from the African Plate in the South Atlantic. These plates are still moving apart, so the Atlantic is growing at the ridge, at a rate of about 2.5 cm per year in an east-west direction.

Most of the ridge system is underwater but forms land as a set of volcanic islands of varying sizes that run the length of the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are:

1. Jan Mayen (Norway)

2. Iceland

3. Azores (Portugal)

4. St Paul’s rock (Brazil)

5. Ascension Island (UK)

6. St Helena (UK)

7. Tristan da Cunha (UK)

8. Gough Island (UK)

9. Bouvet Island (Norway)

2. Hydrothermal Vents

In 1977, scientists made a stunning discovery on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean: vents pouring hot, mineral-rich fluids from beneath the seafloor. They later found the vents were inhabited by previously unknown organisms that thrived in the absence of sunlight. These discoveries fundamentally changed our understanding of Earth and life on it.

Like hot springs and geysers on land, hydrothermal vents form in volcanically active areas—often on mid-ocean ridges, where Earth’s tectonic plates are spreading apart and where magma wells up to the surface or close beneath the seafloor. Ocean water percolates into the crust through cracks and porous rocks and is heated by underlying magma. The heat helps drive chemical reactions that remove oxygen, magnesium, sulfates and other chemicals from the water that entered the ocean through rain, rivers, and groundwater. In the process, the fluids also become hotter and more acidic, causing them to leach metals such as iron, zinc, copper, lead, and cobalt from the surrounding rocks. The heated fluids rise back to the surface through openings in the seafloor. Hydrothermal fluid temperatures can reach 400°C (750°F) or more, but they do not boil under the extreme pressure of the deep ocean.

As they pour out of a vent, the fluids encounter cold, oxygenated seawater, causing another, more rapid series of chemical reactions to occur. Sulfur and other materials precipitate, or come out of solution, to form metal-rich towers and deposits of minerals on the seafloor. The fluids also contain chemicals that feed microbes at the base of a unique food web that survives apart from the sun. Instead of relying on photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into organic carbon, the bacteria use chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide to provide the energy source that drives their metabolic processes and ultimately support a wide range of other organisms such as tubeworms, shrimp, and mussels.

3. Wreck of the Titanic

The wreck of the Titanic lies at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,800 meters; 2,100 fathoms), about 370 nautical miles (690 kilometers) south-southeast of the coast of Newfoundland. It lies in two main pieces about 2,000 feet (600 m) apart. The bow is still recognizable with many preserved interiors, despite deterioration and damage sustained hitting the sea floor. In contrast, the stern is completely ruined. A debris field around the wreck contains hundreds of thousands of items spilled from the ship as she sank. The bodies of the passengers and crew would have also been distributed across the sea bed, but have since been consumed by other organisms.

The Titanic sank in 1912 when it collided with an iceberg during its maiden voyage. Numerous expeditions tried using sonar to map the sea bed in the hope of finding it but were unsuccessful. In 1985, the wreck was finally located by a joint French–American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The wreck has been the focus of intense interest and has been visited by numerous expeditions. Controversial salvage operations have recovered thousands of items, which have been conserved and put on public display.

Many schemes have been proposed to raise the Titanic, including filling the wreck with ping-pong balls,[2] injecting it with 180,000 tons of Vaseline,[3] or using half a million tons of liquid nitrogen to encase it in an iceberg that would float to the surface.[4] However, the wreck is too fragile to be raised and is now protected by a UNESCO convention.

4. Cook claims Australia

Lieutenant James Cook, captain of HMB Endeavour, claimed the eastern portion of the Australian continent for the British Crown in 1770, naming it New South Wales.

In his journal, he wrote: ‘So far as we know [it] doth not produce any one thing that can become an Article in trade to invite Europeans to fix a settlement upon it’.

Eighteen years later, the First Fleet arrived to establish a penal colony in New South Wales.

5. Victor Vescovo

An American explorer has found plastic waste on the seafloor while breaking the record for the deepest-ever dive. Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean - the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep. He found sea creatures but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers. It is the third time humans have reached the ocean's extreme depths.

The explorers believe they have discovered four new species of prawn-like crustaceans called amphipods

The first dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench took place in 1960 by US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard in a vessel called the Bathyscaphe Trieste.

Movie director James Cameron then made a solo plunge half a century later in 2012 in his bright green sub.

Mariana Trench: Deepest Ocean 'teems with microbes'

Fly through the Mariana Trench

James Cameron back on the surface after deepest ocean dive

The latest descent, which reached 10,927m (35,849ft) beneath the waves, is now the deepest by 11m - making Victor Vescovo the new record holder.

6. Ocean Debris

The North Pacific Garbage Patch is the biggest gyre out of all five major oceanic gyres. It covers most of the North Pacific, ranging from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and across the ocean to Japan and China. The debris consists of 2.7 million metric tons of plastic and floating trash that covers 20 million square kilometers of water. The North Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to have started in 1945 and scientists have found plastics that are over 50 years old.

There are 3 major contributing factors to the vast size of The North Pacific Garbage Patch. The three contributors are Seal Beach in Los Angeles, Imperial Beach located south of San Diego, and the other side of the ocean Shui Hau Beach, Hong Kong. (L. Lebreton 2018)

Seal Beach is located at the end of the San Gabriel River that flows runoff water from 50 different cities (Laylan Connelly 2019) In the Los Angeles river basin. Due to storms and flooding, the San Gabriel River carries all the pilled-up garbage from the 50 cities and dumps it straight into the North Pacific and according to the Coastal Commission, 80% (Laylan Connelly 2019) of the trash that enters The North Pacific is carried out from The San Gabriel River.

Imperial Beach is just south of San Diego and north of Tijuana and it is also the last stop for all the sewage covering the whole city. Due to poor recycling practices in Tijuana and poor sewage management in San Diego, Imperial Beach has become a resting break for garbage that is waiting to enter the North Pacific Ocean.

7. Juan Ponce de León

Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing in the North Atlantic northeastward off the North American coast between Cape Hatteras, N.C., U.S., and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Can. In popular conception, the Gulf Stream also includes the Florida Current (between the Straits of Florida and Cape Hatteras) and the West Wind Drift (east of the Grand Banks).

The Gulf Stream is part of a general clockwise-rotating system of currents in the North Atlantic. It is fed by the westward-flowing North Equatorial Current moving from North Africa to the West Indies. Off the northeastern coast of South America, this current splits into the Caribbean Current, which passes into the Caribbean Sea and through the Yucatán Channel into the Gulf of Mexico, and into the Antilles Current, which flows to the north and east of the West Indies.

The Caribbean Current reemerges into the Atlantic through the Straits of Florida between the Florida Keys and Cuba to form the Florida Current. Deflected to the northeast by the submerged Great Bahama Bank southeast of the Florida Peninsula, this swift current is joined by the Antilles Current and flows roughly parallel to the eastern coast of the United States to about Cape Hatteras. There the path of the Gulf Stream becomes twisted as huge swirls of warm water break off. A part of the Gulf Stream forms a countercurrent that flows south and then west. The countercurrent rejoins the Gulf Stream on its seaward side along the coast of Florida and the Carolinas.

The main portion of the Gulf Stream continues north, veering more to the east and passing close to the Grand Banks, south of Newfoundland, where it breaks up into swirling currents. Some of these eddies flow toward the British Isles and the Norwegian seas and form the North Atlantic Current (or Drift). A larger number flow south and east, either becoming part of westward-flowing countercurrents or joining the Canary Current.

8. Lost City Hydrothermal Field

It was February 1977, and Robert Ballard, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), sat aboard the research vessel Knorr 400 miles off the South American coast, staring at photos before him.

“I think there’s shimmering water right over here to the left, coming out right off the top.”

The photos had been taken by cameras towed 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) below the surface on a platform called ANGUS. They unveiled a discovery that would turn our understanding of life on Earth on its head: Warm water was drifting out of the seafloor along the Galápagos Rift.

Ballard, along with a team of thirty marine geologists, geochemists, and geophysicists, had found the world’s first known active hydrothermal vent. There were no biologists aboard—because no one had expected the second shocking discovery that came soon after: Life was thriving in the abyss. Foot-long clams and human-sized tube worms with tulip-looking heads made the already extra-terrestrial landscape look, well, alien.

Hydrothermal vents form in volcanic areas where subseafloor chambers of rising magma create undersea mountain ranges known as mid-ocean ridges. Cold seawater seeps into cracks in the seafloor and can be heated up to a raging 750° F (400° C) by interacting with magma-heated subsurface rocks. The heat stimulates chemical reactions that pull in minerals and chemicals from the rocks before the fluids percolate back up through vent openings as a chemical-laden soup.

9. Mariana Trench

Mariana Trench, also called Marianas Trench, deep-sea trench in the floor of the western North Pacific Ocean, the deepest such trench known on Earth, located mostly east as well as south of the Mariana Islands. It is part of the western Pacific system of oceanic trenches coinciding with subduction zones—points where two adjacent tectonic plates collide, one being forced below the other. An arcing depression, the Mariana Trench stretches for more than 1,580 miles (2,540 km) with a mean width of 43 miles (69 km). The greatest depths are reached in Challenger Deep, a smaller steep-walled valley on the floor of the main trench southwest of Guam. The Mariana Trench, which is situated within the territories of the U.S. dependencies of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, was designated a U.S. national monument in 2009.

10. Antarctic Circumpolar Current

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is an ocean current that flows clockwise (as seen from the South Pole) from west to east around Antarctica. An alternative name for the ACC is the West Wind Drift. The ACC is the dominant circulation feature of the Southern Ocean and has a mean transport estimated at 100–150 Sverdrups (Sv, million m3/s),[1] or possibly even higher,[2] making it the largest ocean current. The current is circumpolar due to the lack of any landmass connecting with Antarctica and this keeps warm ocean waters away from Antarctica, enabling that continent to maintain its huge ice sheet.

Associated with the Circumpolar Current is the Antarctic Convergence, where the cold Antarctic waters meet the warmer waters of the subantarctic, creating a zone of upwelling nutrients. These nurture high levels of phytoplankton with associated copepods and krill, and resultant foodchains supporting fish, whales, seals, penguins, albatrosses, and a wealth of other species.

The ACC has been known to sailors for centuries; it greatly speeds up any travel from west to east but makes sailing extremely difficult from east to west, although this is mostly due to the prevailing westerly winds. Jack London's story "Make Westing" and the circumstances preceding the mutiny on the Bounty poignantly illustrate the difficulty it caused for mariners seeking to round Cape Horn westbound on the clipper ship route from New York to California.[3] The eastbound clipper route, which is the fastest sailing route around the world, follows the ACC around three continental capes – Cape Agulhas (Africa), South East Cape (Australia), and Cape Horn (South America).


By Akshay Kumar | April 10, 2023, | Writer at Gurugrah_Blogs.



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