6 Mysterious Phenomena That Occur In Some Of The World’s Oceans

Oceans are the vast bodies of water on our planet, and when I say vast, I mean vast in the real sense of the word. The waves always seem to race to the shore, and a constant state of activity envelops all life in the ocean. At times, the oceans seem to have minds of their own.

Beautiful as they are, oceans can be equally dangerous in terms of doing some pretty nasty stuff. We all know of the chaos they cause with their notorious outbursts of anger in the form of tsunami, typhoons and cyclones. Many of these phenomena or actions of the oceans have been analyzed by scientists, so we know a great deal about them.

However, there are some events that happen on the surface of the oceans, or sometimes underwater, that we don’t properly understand. Let’s take a look at some of these strange occurrences:

Steaming Sea:

The name is rather self-explanatory. When the air above the surface of the ocean water is very cold, fog (or mist) is observed just above its surface.

sea steam

This is also called sea smoke, frost smoke or steam fog. This happens when wind carrying cold air gets mixed with the warm and saturated air that is present just above the surface of the ocean. The warm air is cooled to such a point that it can no longer hold any water vapor, which is why the excess water becomes condensed. Therefore, one is able to see steam just above the surface, much like the steam that you might see over a boiling kettle of water.

Submarine Volcano (Underwater volcano):

Volcanoes don’t only erupt on land; they also erupt ‘beneath’ the surface of the oceans. These submarine volcanoes are underwater vents from which magma can erupt to the surface. In fact, 75% of the total magma output on the planet each year is caused by these eruptions. Although they are primarily found in the depths of oceans, there are certain fissures that exist even in shallow waters.

underwater volcanoBecause these are underwater events, the way they explode is different from those that take place on land. Immediately after the erupting magma comes in contact with water, which is at a much lower temperature than the magma, an amorphous product called Volcanic glass forms. Also, since the pressure at such depths is so darn high, it doesn’t allow the water to boil. Therefore, the water becomes something else – a supercritical liquid. This is a substance that is neither liquid nor solid, but something in between.

Convergence of the Seas:

This is one of the most spectacular phenomena exhibited by nature. In the province of Skagen in Denmark, two different seas, the Skagerrak sea and the Kattegat sea (Skagerrak flows into the North Sea and Kattegat into the Baltic Sea, so it is essentially the convergence of these two bodies of water as well) converge or meet each other. That’s all well and good, but what’s so spectacular about this event?

Perhaps you should take a look at the picture of this convergence and decide for yourself.

convergence

Water from both the seas are in direct contact, but they still don’t mix. This is due to the different levels of salinity of both the seas, meaning that the two sources of water have dissimilar densities. Furthermore, due to the fact that the area where these two converge is very shallow, there is very little contact. Although there is a small amount of mixing, it is too small to be visible on the surface.

Maelstrom:

A maelstrom is a very strong, powerful whirlpool that sometimes appears in oceans. The notorious ability of a maelstrom to pull down or ‘suck’ things on the surface of oceans (like ships and other watercraft) is what makes these phenomena so dangerous. Although a maelstrom has a mighty downdraft, its power to kill is often overstated in fiction and history.

maelstrom

It is unlikely that a maelstrom, unaided by any other powerful natural force (like a tsunami), can suck large ships right down to the seabed. However, a maelstrom can definitely pose a threat to smaller boats and crafts.

Bioluminescence:

This is a feast for the eyes, and one of the most mysterious occurrences in the marine world.

At night, if you look over the vast expanse of ocean, you would likely see flickering lights of the boats or ships far off the coast, but otherwise, all you can see it pitch-black sky and water.

However, if you are lucky enough to be at the right spot at the right time, you might see the water on the beach scintillate in the dark night with what looks like countless blue-colored lights.

bioluminescent beach

This phenomenon is called bioluminescence, and it occurs when chemicals on the bodies of several sea creatures come in contact with the atmospheric oxygen, thereby starting a chemical reaction – the outcome of which is the appearance of dazzling lights in water.

Baltic Sea Anomaly:

There is a circular rock-like formation on the floor of the Baltic Sea, 60 meters (200 feet) in diameter, that is commonly referred to as the Baltic Sea anomaly. A diving team named ‘Ocean X’, led by Peter Lindberg and Dennis Åsberg, spotted this mysterious formation on the sea floor. baltic sea anomaly

There are a number of opinions as to what this might be, including a battleship gun turret, a flying saucer, sediment dropped by a fishing trawler and many other theories. This is something that we still don’t fully understand. However, the generally believed idea is that it’s most probably a natural geological formation.

There are a huge number of occurrences that can be spotted all over these gigantic water bodies. It is just a matter of time before we observe yet another phenomenon that we will gradually study and understand, adding even more power behind the awesome force of nature.

References:

  1. Sea Smoke – Wikipedia
  2. Submarine Volcano – Wikipedia
  3. Whirlpool – Wikipedia
  4. Bioluminescence – Wikipedia
  5. Baltic Sea Anomaly – Wikipedia
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About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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