Traditionally, the seven wonders of the Ancient World were a collection of remarkable constructions listed by various Greek authors. The list contained the likes of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and many other ancient land constructions… But the Greek authors, when compiling this list, never considered exploring what “wonders” may have lay beneath the waves. Grand underwater canyons and abandoned temples were submerged underwater, out of sight.
Nowadays, thanks to a large investment of both time and money in ocean exploration, we are discovering how full of “wonder” our ocean really is. Here are nine incredible underwater wonders:
Yonaguni Monument, Japan
Discovered by a wayward diver who noticed a peculiar underwater rock formation, Yonaguni became one of the most hotly debated underwater discoveries in decades. The debate, that still continues to this day, is whether these incredible structures are man-made or a quirk of nature.
Deep sea vents, Ecuador
Featuring at the depths of the ocean, the deep sea vents (or hydrothermal vents) channel pockets of gas that is buried inside the Earth’s crust into the sea. Although this part of the underwater world looks vaguely reminiscent of an inhospitable wasteland in a Sci-Fi movie, it actually supports resilient organisms such as: tube worms, sea cucumbers, sponges, brittle stars and a variety of mollusc species.
Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas
The deepest ocean sinkhole in the world, with a diameter of around 25-35 metres at the entrance, and an incredible 100 metre wide cavern below is a must-dive for divers, despite the risks. The hole plunges down to an incredible 202 metres, which is over 90 metres deeper than any other known blue hole.
Sandfalls, Cabo, Mexico
Sand that flows over steep rocks – much like a waterfall on land – has amazed both scientists and divers since Jacques-Yves Cousteau first discovered the event in the seventies. Caused by strong currents forcing sand to slip from underwater coastal shelves down into a deep 120 metre abyss, it redefines the understanding of this strange underwater world.
To view a “sandfall” in action, click here.
Lost city of Heracleion, Egypt
The ancient Egyptian port of Heracleion, founded in 8 BC, disappeared under the waves over 1,000 years ago and its existence had long slipped into myth. That was until it was discovered in 2000. Nowadays, an underwater ruin of giant religious statues, ancient ships and supposed mummified animals stand as a fearful reminder of a once buzzing metropolis that ended up below the waves.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest structure composed of living entities is so big that you can view it from the Earth’s orbit. Over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch over 2,300 kilometres, make up this wonder. It is without a doubt the most famous underwater wonder in the world, and over 18 million years old.
Lake Baikal, Russia
The world’s oldest and deepest lake in the world; containing 20 percent of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Its unique freshwater fauna, which includes the famous freshwater seal, has evolved in isolation from the rest of the world for centuries.
Zhemchug Canyon, Bering Sea
The grand canyon of the Bering Sea, this incredible underwater ravine can be faintly seen from space and sits an incredible 2.6 kilometres deep. Zhemchug is officially the biggest canyon in the ocean and its tunnels are home to an incredible array of marine life.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
With over three quarters of its body submerged in the ocean, the volcano still stands as the highest mountain in Hawaii. Estimated to be over 10,000 metres high, Mauna Kea remains an ultimate wonder on both the topside and underwater.
This article featured on UW360.asia [02.02.2016]