Environment Humour Science

Ocean’s Three: Fascinating Facts

They drive our climate, make rain, provide food, influence culture and created life itself, but they hide more than they tell.

We have measured its deepest trough and highest point, studied 5% of its bottom, and analysed its impact on our world, but the oceans mysteries remain unfathomable.

Prepare to be amazed

For the sake of this article, we stayed away from the usual ocean mysteries and facts, and focused instead on a couple of little-known amazing natural phenomena and an ocean whodunit. Here goes.

Oceans have basements with living things

It covers more than 70% our planet, but we’ve only seen 5% of its floor because 95% of it remains unseen by humans. That makes the other 5% too small a sample size to reach any kind of conclusion. Heck, we have no knowledge of what the other 95% looks like or what lives there. In contrast, we know more about the surfaces of other planets and the moon. But wait, there’s more. Dig beyond the floor and there’s life even there.

Image: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr

In 2015, scientists drilled 2.5 km below the seafloor off the coast of Japan, and discovered microbes. Interestingly, the microbes are similar to those in forest floor soil. It’s possible these below-the-deep sea critters bid goodbye to their earthly cousins 20 million years ago, and adapted to their new habitat as it gradually went undersea. Could there be more that deep-dived from earth into a subterranean life below the ocean’s bottom; what more could they reveal about life on earth, are questions we don’t have answers to. Not yet.

Salty lakes and mussel-power!

You read that right! The oceans contain pockets of super salty water in so called ‘Brine pools’. Unfortunately, the brine pools are so damn deep, you can’t reach the free brine for pickling gherkins and onions. The ocean has created lakes of water than can be four times saltier than normal seawater – so salty and dense that normally submersible items are known to float in brine water, which also makes these pools a bad place for undersea treasure hunts. Some brine pools contain microorganisms and even mussels.

What we don’t know is how many of these pools exist or how many have mussels and other creatures? We have news that future explorations of brine pools will have pots and pans onboard to cook up a mussel feast: no salt required. Just kidding!

The ‘here today gone tomorrow’ island

Phantom islands have been cited in myths and folklore, much like Skull Island in the 2017 King Kong franchise movie. Skull Island’s real-world counterparts can be as mythical and mysterious. Called Phantom islands, there’s one that tickles popular imagination more than any other. Apparently, the tiny, uninhabited island of Bermeja simply disappeared after appearing on maps from the 1500s to the 1700s. The island lies in the Yucatan Peninsula, off the coast of Mexico. It last appeared on a map in 1921, and appears to have fallen off the maps thereafter.

What happened to Bermeja? Did global warming sink it, was it removed from maps to protect its rich natural resources, or did a covert military mission blow it off the sea? Despite a flurry of searches and three official investigations in 2009, Bermeja island refuses to life the veil of mystery surrounding its disappearance. Well, they could use some magic by famous Indian magician, P.C. Sorcar, who made the Taj Mahal disappear and then reappear in two minutes back in 2000. Read more about the phantom island, Bermeja, on Lonely Planet. is going to the ocean

This week, takes you on an exciting, enlightening and entertaining voyage across the oceans. Follow us through June 22 to June 28 as we deep-dive into the mysteries and wonders of the vast water bodies that make our planet blue, create ocean-inspired crafts, and examine ocean-themed pop culture. All hands on deck!

By Romeo Coutinho

Rationalist, truth seeker, full time writer, part time dreamer.

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