Mysteries of the Sea: Monsters, Sunken Ships and Ocean Oddities

Endless secrets lurk in the briny deep. Ships disappear in the waves, planes slip to the ocean floor and eerie formations hint of forgotten cities. Dive in. You'll find many mysteries that lie under the sea. 

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Sunken Subs

The USS Scorpion, a nuclear-powered Navy sub, vanished in the Mediterranean in 1968, with a crew of 99. She was found in 1968, split into two main sections, about 10,000 feet down. It's thought that a torpedo the Scorpion was carrying accidentally discharged. What's even more haunting is that three more subs disappeared in that same year: the Israeli Dakar, the Soviet K-129 and the Chinese 361. The exact causes of these tragedies remain unclear -- or, at least, they haven't been revealed. 

Pirate Treasure

Shiver me timbers. Many ships that have plummeted to the depths have carried their treasures with them. In this episode of Mysteries at the Museum, a diver retrieves a Spanish coin struck in 1684 from the ocean floor and later finds the wreckage of a pirate ship. Valuables worth millions undoubtedly still rest under the sand and sea. 

The Flying Dutchman

Ghost ships, they say, are ships without ports, doomed to prowl the oceans for all time. The Flying Dutchman is such a ship, and its story may have begun with a 17th-century folktale. For centuries, mariners have reported seeing this phantom vessel with an unearthly glow. But you don't want to spot the Dutchman. Legend says a sighting foretells your death.

Flight MH370

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia, with 239 people onboard. The jet departed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have deliberately strayed off course, for reasons no one has yet explained. For over two years, no traces of the plane or passengers were found, and mysterious pings, thought to come from the plane's black box, led nowhere. Then, in late 2016, debris was finally located and identified as part of the doomed plane. Will that help investigators determine why it went down? Hope fades, as time goes on.

USS Cyclops Trunk

While returning from a mission in 1917, the steel-hulled USS Cyclops disappeared in Barbados. No one heard a distress call, and no one ever found wreckage or any of the 300-plus passengers and crew. Only an empty sea trunk was found many years later, buried under a house; the homeowner claimed he didn't know how, or when, it got there. Was the Cyclops, a collier ship, overloaded? Torpedoed? Did a structural or engine problem take her down? No one can say, but as this episode of Mysteries at the Museum reports, she vanished in the infamous Bermuda Triangle. 

The H.L. Hunley

The Confederate submarine, H.L. Hunley, was the first sub to sink an enemy ship. Later that very day, Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley sank, taking a crew of eight to their watery graves. After the sub was recovered in 2000, researchers found the bodies of the men still at their stations, as if they didn't even try to escape. So far, no bullet or torpedo holes have been discovered in the remains of the Hunley. What happened that day? Mysteries at the Museum explores the sub's eerie fate. 

Bimini Road

About 15 feet underwater near the Bahamas' Bimini Island, limestone rocks seem to have been fitted together to make a road. Some say it led to the legendary, lost continent of Atlantis, and that it's proof of an ancient civilization. The story spread when Edgar Cayce, an American mystic popular in the 1920s through the 1940s, claimed Atlantis once existed near Bimini. Although researchers now reject that idea, visitors still come to puzzle over the odd rock formation.

The Mary Celeste

In 1872, the Mary Celeste was found, abandoned and adrift, 400 miles from the Azores. The ship's only lifeboat was gone, along with 10 passengers and crewmen, but provisions were left behind. Sea water and a pump that had been taken apart were found in the hold. Did the captain really order everyone off the ship and into the open sea? The Mary was still seaworthy; the crew that found it actually sailed it home. Whatever occurred happened fast: The rescue crew could still see the ghostly imprint of the captain's small daughter on her bed. 


The philosopher Plato described an island called Atlantis, which sank, he said, over the course of a day and a night, around 9,600 B.C. Was he writing history or fiction? In this episode of Mysteries at the Museum, investigators explore the story of one of the greatest mysteries ever. Some think Atlantis is a myth that began when a volcano destroyed Santorini, a Greek island, around 1,600 B.C.

The Edmund Fitzgerald

Although the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, not the ocean, its waters can be just as cold, dark and menacing. The tragedy occurred more than 40 years ago, but it's still controversial. We know the captain, caught in a fierce storm, radioed to say the ship was damaged and listing. But why didn't he ask for help? The ship and its crew of 29 were later found on the bottom of the lake. Its recovered bell hangs in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. 

Underwater Pyramid of Mu

Speaking of stories of lost civilizations, Japan has its own: Mu, a city believed to lie underwater near Yonaguni Island. Divers have found ruins -- including an archway, a stadium and a pyramid-like structure -- that may have been submerged by an earthquake or tsunami. The ruins bear markings that resemble animals and human faces, and some say they are similiar to etchings found in Asia, China and Okinawa.  

Plesiosaur Marine Reptile

This bizarre creature might look like Nessie (the infamous Loch Ness) or a sea monster, but it's actually a plesiosaur, a prehistoric marine reptile. Plesiosaurs became extinct some 66 million years ago, but that doesn't mean weird species aren't still swimming around, like the fabled Santa Cruz Sea Serpent, as seen in this episode of Mysteries at the Museum

Flying Tiger

The eerie disappearance of Flying Tiger Flight 739 occurred in 1962, with most of its 107 passengers being Army Rangers departing Guam for Clark Field in the Phillippines. An air traffic controller heard the pilot transmit about 80 minutes after takeoff -- then, silence. Not even a tanker crew that saw an explosion and hurried to the site could locate any wreckage. Why did a plane with only 17,000 hours of flying time simply vanish in good weather? Why didn't the eleven-member crew call for help, and why wasn't any debris ever located? Authorities theorized the aircraft was destroyed in flight--but the questions remain.  

Bioluminescent Seas

Far below the ocean's surface, certain marine creatures and tiny organisms generate light. The phenomenon, bioluminescence, is rarely seen in freshwater. While scientists have identified many bioluminescent species, they still don't know how they evolved, or exactly how they use chemicals to produce their glow. 

The Bermuda Triangle

Sketch a route between Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, and you'll have the notorious area known as the Bermuda Triangle, where countless planes and ships have disappeared in its waters. As Mysteries at the Museum host Don Wilder notes in this episode, a squadron of Navy bombers, known as Flight 19, went missing over the Atlantic in 1945. Rescue planes searched, but then one of those also disappeared, with 13 men aboard. One theory is that the planes ran out of fuel, but to date, the Triangle has refused to give up the secret.

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