Bizarre Facts Await Ye! Don't Be a Skallywag
Aye there! What's that you say? You've come to learn the secrets of the sea?
Well, I'm not sure you're ready. A landlubber like yourself would only slow down me and my crew. And yet…
…you've never been out to the deep sea?
Well. Everyone should know what's out there, at least once. I can't refuse an adventurer who heeds the siren call of the sea.
The buried remains of the Titanic. Underwater lakes. Creatures that live off the heat steaming up from the vents and volcanoes on the ocean floor.
But what would you care about such things? …Well, if you say you're interested.
But there are secrets that will shake you to your very depths, and scare the wax off your mustache.
You don't wax your mustache? How strange. Well, here's hoping you have at least some redeeming qualities.
Tell me… what do you know about the deep sea?
Just How Much Do We Know About The Ocean Anyways?
How much do we know? Why that's a fair question!
Not as much as we don't know, that's for sure.
Only 5%-10% of the ocean has been explored. That's a lot of empty space.
In the good old days, we used to write “here be monsters” on these parts of the map.
But we don't do that so much anymore. They expect us to actually give them scientific accuracy.
But that doesn't make it easy, discovering the deepest part of the ocean. In fact, did you know that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own deep sea?
That's because to explore the deep sea; you're dealing with powerful forces.
Physical challenges that the ordinary person can't even comprehend. At the ocean floor, the pressure would crush you — eight tons per square inch.
Better start doing yer squats, landlubber!
(Oh and if you weren't aware, “landlubber” doesn't mean a “land lover.” No, “lubber” is slang for a clumsy person.)
A landlubber such as yourself probably doesn't know that there are lakes under the ocean. Aye.
Hydrogen sulfide can combine with water and when the two make a new substance that's liquid, but heavier than water. So it sinks.
What else will you find in the ocean? Well… gold.
There is so much gold floating in the ocean right this moment, that if you were to gather it all up, there would be nine pounds of the shiny metal for ever person on this planet.
Of course, that gold is mostly in tiny, tiny specks, scattered across the entire ocean. So I hope you're ready for the world's biggest scavenger hunt…
I've many more to share, but let's take a closer look at one of the deep sea's true delights: the sands of Mauritius!
The Most Mysterious Wonders of the Deep Sea
So what's our first stop among our mix of ocean mysteries?
Mauritius. The impossible island of the Indian Ocean.
How do you explain this?
Well, I'll let you in on the secret. Mauritius is a beautiful tiny paradise in the Indian Ocean, just east of Madagascar.
But at one end of the island, there's an optical illusion. It tricks your eyes and makes it look like there's a crack in the ocean itself.
The white sand is being pulled away from the island by the ocean currents. And it happens in such a way that it makes it appear as though all the water is flowing down, rather than out.
Most of the water is 150 meters in depth, but here, it looks to be much deeper. Perhaps the whole island will slide into it and disappear.
The Baltic Sea Anomaly
Deep on the ocean floor of the Baltic, there is a sight no one can explain. Nor get out of their heads.
Some say that it's a remnant of an ancient civilization or artifact. Some that it's a Nazi secret weapon, that was never used. Others theories are that it was a visitor from another world… which I do not believe.
I'm sure there's a logical explanation here, but… what is it?
Four submarines went missing in the same year, back in 1968. The United States Navy lost the USS Scorpion. The Soviets lost the K-129. The French and the INS also each lost one. The French Minerve is still missing even to this day.
What happened to these unfortunate sailors? Was it just coincidence? Or something else?
Julia and the Bloop
Sometimes it's not what you see that keeps you up and night. It's what you hear. “The Bloop” and “Julia” are two such noises that have been analyzed by countless experts… never to be sure of what object or creature was making the eerie cry.
Some feel that the truth was that the sound was an iceberg splitting in two. But… some of these sounds were picked up by different instruments, very far away from one another. So if that's the case, that was One. Big. Iceberg.
Of course, these are just stories that we tell the new members of the crew. I'm sure that everything's just fine.
These next creatures, however, I can assure you, are very, very real…
Deadliest Catch: The World's Most Dangerous Sea Creatures
Of course, those eerie deep sea cries are just strange anomalies. The real creatures that can kill you are ones we know exist, and we know that they're lethal because somebody found it out the hard way.
To start with, there's this cute little fellow…
The Blue Ringed Octopus
Look at how adorable this little octopus is. And quite tiny, too! It's not always easy to tell from pictures, but they are just the size of just a golf ball.
Of course, you don't have to be very big. Not when you carry venom with you that's a thousand times more powerful than cyanide.
Just let the venom do the talking.
The Blue Ringed Octopus lives off the coast of Australia. Mostly, it likes to hide in the reef and occasionally pops our for a snack.
When it catches a small fish, or a crab, it shoots its prey full of a venom known as tetrodotoxin. This paralyzes its prey, and makes for a much more quiet meal.
If it stings you, it won't be able to eat you. Not all at once, anyway.
But it could paralyze you with its venom — no doubt about it. Although a treatment for the venom has been created, if you don't get to a hospital quickly, it's bad news for your nervous system.
The stonefish is another creature living near the great barrier reef. Perhaps you've already seen one. They're easy to miss. You might look at it, and not see anything at all.
That's because the stonefish is camouflaged. It looks like something. Can you guess what? (Hint: it's a stone. Your instincts were correct).
The stonefish mostly wants to be left alone, but every once in a while it will sting a person. Again, going right to a hospital can sometimes save a life, but these disguised and deadly fishes are yet another reason why the people of Oceania like to say “everything here is trying to kill you.”
The Box jellyfish moves over multiple regions of the Pacific Ocean. Often it can be found in Australia, which it likes to visit so it can hang out with its poison friends that we just mentioned.
The Box jellyfish will only live to about a year old, but this baby can kill you with its venomous tentacles. The venom attacks the heart and nervous system.
This seemingly harmless little killer has claimed the lives of over sixty people in the last hundred years or so.
Oh, and if you're from the U.S. and feeling safe because Australia's far away, don't. Pacific Box jellyfish are routines spotted of Hawaii. So you ought to keep in mind: they're getting closer.
Coral Reef Snakes
They can't move on land! Well, one species can. It makes you wonder how long each of them will take to develop little legs so they can chase you down on land.
These snakes are water snakes. They move by propelling themselves with little paddles that are part of their tails. They live in the ocean (Indian and Western Pacific, specifically). They are also quite venomous.
They like to swarm, too. Sailors from hundreds of years ago report seeing millions of them swimming in one particular spot.
Probably not a great place to go for a swim.
The Most Shocking Survival Stories of All Time
If you were adrift at sea, how long would you last? A day? Five? How would you battle the thirst, the lack of food, the sun beating down on you, mercilessly?
How would you deal with the occasional shark fin heading toward you, circling you, as you tried to pilot your little boat or raft toward the nearest land?
Here are the people who made it, starting with the all-time known record holder for most days adrift.
José Salvador Alvarenge
DAYS ADRFIT: 438
José Salvador Alvarenga is a fisherman who is famous for not giving up when he spent over a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean.
On November 17, 2012, Alvarenga was living and working in the tiny fishing village of Costa Azul, on the west coast of Mexico. He had planned on making a fishing trip that day, although there was a storm approaching the area. It would have been safer to stay home, but Alvarenga was experienced, and decided to take the risk. He and another fisherman, Ezequiel Córdoba, headed out to sea. Their boat was very small.
It was basically no bigger than a two-man rowboat with a motor attached to the back. The pair had an icebox to store the fish they caught, and fishing lines.
The Storm Hits
When the storm hit, the two fishermen struggled to keep their tiny boat afloat. They ditched their cargo: the icebox, the fishing lines, and their haul, as they raced to get back to land. They were within sight of the shore when their motor died. Alvarenga tried to radio his boss to send help, and did manage to contact him. But then the boat's radio also died, Alvarenga and Córdoba lost contact.
Powerful currents pushed the boat away from shore. Alvarenga and Córdoba watched as the land disappeared from view, and they were officially adrift. Although the boss would organize a rescue party, he was unable to locate the boat.
Adrift at Sea
With no gear, motor, or fishing lines, the pair had to live on rainwater that they caught in plastic bottles, and any animals they were able to catch. They carried on like this for four months, until Córdoba gave up hope.
Alvarenga was left alone, but decided to keep going as long as he could. All told, Alvarenga wouldn't have contact with civilization for over a full year. He relates that he once saw a cargo ship and tried waving it down, but it either didn't see him or didn't understand his predicament. Alvarenga continued for an astounding 438 days, over 14 months since he had first set out on what was supposed to be a short fishing trip. One day he noticed coconuts drifting by his boat, and realized that land was nearby. When he got close enough, he jumped out of his boat and swam for the shore.
As it happened, he had landed on the Marshall Islands, a very tiny chain of small islands in the middle of the Pacific. Fortunately, someone else noticed his arrival.
Alvarenga washed up on Ebon Atoll, which was roughly 6,800 miles from his starting point. For perspective, that would be like drifting in a tiny boat all the way from San Francisco to New York. And then back. Without a paddle.
Aldi Novel Adilang
DAYS ADRFIT: 49
vAldi Novel Adilang's time at sea was much shorter, but he still covered an astonishing amount of distance in that time. Adilang, an Indonesian teen, was working on a fishing hut, which is a coastal Indonesian structure that floats on the water, and is anchored in place.Wind broke the structure apart, and Adilang found himself and his hut unmoored from their position. The hut began to drift out to sea. Adilang survived by eating the fish he had caught.He tried to contact ships, but they passed him by and did not stop. Finally, he managed to make radio contact with a Panamanian vessel which rescued him.
The Three Castaways
DAYS MAROONED: 3
This one gets bonus points less for the time spent adrift, and more for the genius way in which the castaways signaled for their rescue. A U.S. Navy plane was patrolling the area when it spotted a single word “HELP” written out in palm leaves.
The men had been sailing from Micronesia when their boat was swamped, and they had to abandon ship and swim for shore. They wound up on the uninhabited island of Fanadik. They spent a day swimming to shore, and then another three days before they were spotted. They were promptly rescued, and their makeshift sign went viral as a result.
How to Survive Being Lost at Sea
So how would you do? Would you survive for more than a year? Or would you be losing your cool after just three days?
If you are ever in this situation, there are a few tricks you can use to give yourself better odds of survival.
Deal with the deadliest threat first. Don't allow yourself to panic. Focus on the first problem, then decide what's next.
Once the immediate threats are out of the way, if it looks like you aren't going to be able to get help right away, your first goal is getting yourself drinkable water.
If your only supply of water is salt water, you will need to find a way to remove the salt. Saltwater will dehydrate you, but it can be converted to drinkable water if you can find a way to heat it and then trap the condensation, which will be fresh water.
You know what to do. Don't get out of the boat, and if a shark does come at you, bop it on the nose. The nose, eyes, and gills are the most sensitive spots. But the nose is probably the safest (if you have the option).
Watch for Land
If you have a buddy in this scenario, try to take shifts sleeping, so at least one of you is awake. If a boat or plane passes by, don't miss your opportunity.
What Do We Know About the Ocean? Round Two
What's the one thing that gives us oxygen? Trees, right?
Not so much.
It's estimated that as much as 70-80 percent of our oxygen comes from algae. Those tiny plants do a lot of work.
Kelp is seaweed that can grow two feet a day.
If we melted every iceberg including the polar ice caps, just about every coastal city would be submerged.
The longest mountain chain is the Mid-Ocean Ridge. We know less about it than we know about Mars. It's 34,800 miles long!
How many shipwrecks are in the ocean, do you think? Perhaps a thousand?
Wrong. Maritime historians estimate there are three million individual ships at the bottom of Earths oceans.
(Let's not make it 3 million and one.)
There are more historical artifacts submerged in the water than in all the world's museums put together.
The speed of sound in water is 1,435 meters per second. Sound travels much faster through water than it travels through air.
More than half the life on the Earth is in the ocean.
90% of volcanos are under the ocean.
There are 226,000 known marine species. But many more we've never met. We've still only discovered a third of what exists.
Challenger Deep is at the southern end of the Mariana Trench 36,200 feet deep.
Accidents at Sea: What Are Your Greatest Risks?
Let's see if you can answer this. What's the likeliest disaster at sea? A storm? Tsunami? Sharks? A hole in the boat?
Actually, the likeliest disaster will be one of your own making.
Poor maintenance of the ship, lack of proper training, and overworked or distracted crew members were the leading cause of trouble out at sea.
That being said, there are a couple that won't necessarily be your fault.
This is more common than you think. If you're the one who fell in, or if you're left behind on the ship and notice, the first thing to do is shout “man overboard!” Get the person piloting or steering the ship to start bringing it around.
If you're in the water, do everything you can to stay afloat and conserve energy.
Sockets on ships have a nasty habit of getting wet or damaged from all the rolling of the ship. Be extra careful with them.
Falling Down the Gangway
Yes, one of the most popular ways to hurt yourself on a ship is during the few minutes where you're disembarking. If you have a long gangway to walk down, make sure you take your time.
The Essential Deep Sea Checklist
A good sailor is always prepared! Here is the gear you should always have on hand.
How to Travel Safely and Get Back to Dry Land
So! It's time to get back to the land you love so much, is it? Had enough of the ocean for a spell?
Don't worry; I'll take you back, but not before I teach you how to take a boat out properly. If you're up for it…
Respect the Deep Sea
The sea is bigger than either of us. It was here first, and it'll be here when we're gone, and if you don't respect it, that'll be a lot sooner than you'd like.
Never drink when you're the one piloting the ship. Wear your life jacket. Look out for those around you. Bad weather, mechanical failures, or a simple wrong move can put you in a tight spot very quickly out here.
Respect the sea. Don't ignore what you learned in your boating safety class. Speaking of which…
Take a Boating Safety Course
The first thing you'll want to do is take a boating safety course. I know, I know, I never much-liked book learnin' meself. But here's the truth of it: do ye recall how most disasters at sea are made by human error?
Almost 70% according to the U.S. Coast Guard. That's two of every three disasters that could have been avoided had the captain known what he was doing.
The Boat US Foundation has free tutorials that you can view and get smart about your boat.
Learn to Swim
Oh, you know how to swim, you say? I saw your breast-stroke, landlubber… that might work in the shallow end of the pool, but here on the deep sea?
If you're on a boat, you'll want to have confidence in your ability to swim, and also to float. You should know how to float on your back, and how to do a dead man's float, so you can stay alive.
Don't go down with the ship! That's the captain's job, and I don't see you ever being a captain, so…
Be Aware of the Currents
Don't go in the water lest you're sure that you can make it back to land. Powerful rip currents can drag you out to sea. When a wave crashes on shore, the force of the water returning to the sea has carried off many swimmers.
Check the Weather
You never know when a storm will make landfall. Even if the weather seems perfect. Sun is shining; sky's as blue as you have ever seen.
Remember the story of José Salvador Alvarenga. If he and his friend had checked the weather first, and had respected the danger of the sea, perhaps they wouldn't have been in that awful mess to start with.
Don't put yourself in that situation. Make sure to check the weather reports.
Your first goal at sea is to survive, and to help make sure your crew does the same. If you find yourself in a disaster, remember that panicking will lose you time and energy.
So there you have it. That's what life is like out here.
Perhaps now you see how utterly outmatched you are by the deep sea. You'll want to spend the rest of your days sitting on the shore where it's safe.
Unless, perhaps… you've actually learned something here today.