15 Strangest Things Deep Sea Divers Have Found
From thousands of dollars worth of treasure to brand-new phones and ancient cities — let’s dive into the water and see what we can dig up.
Imagine going to the river to enjoy a boat ride. Who wouldn’t want to take a couple of pics to make the memories of this trip last forever? Oops, the water splashed. Luckily, you’ve taken precautions and put your gadget in a waterproof bag. But what if you drop your phone to the bottom of the lake along with this case? This is what happened to some people. A scuba diver and a YouTuber dived into a river popular with tourists and lost gear worth $20,000. Including new iPhones and some jewelry.
You might be familiar with the image of a car getting pulled out of the water either from the movies or TV news. Large cargo vessels sometimes sink, and trucks inside them go along. That’s what happened with the Thistlegorm Wreck. It sunk in 1941 in the Red Sea. And these Bedford trucks were inside!
Wanna see something more valuable, like... treasure? A British cargo ship was carrying a heavy load of silver ingots, but the vessel sank. Treasure seekers knew there was silver on the ship. Since the 1940s, they have been looking for it. The Odyssey Marine team got lucky. They made the discovery in 2011. The treasure was more than 14,000 feet below the surface. The ship had carried more than 110 tons of silver ingots.
Finders keepers! The Odyssey team kept 80% percent of the treasure and gave 20% to Her Majesty’s Treasury. Of course, there were more items on the ship, like letters, teapots, and silk sheets. You can see them in the exhibition called “Voices From the Deep” at London’s Postal Museum.
How about some underwater art? Sure, here you go — Polynesian Moai Statues. These statues have been discovered in several areas across the world. For instance, Easter Island is full of different-sized statues, but many of them are also found in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc, Mexico. Seeing full-body statues from thousands of years ago under the water would probably be a lifetime experience.
Gold coins are also popular items found in shipwrecks. Many divers come across coins worth a lot of money. But there’s one diver in Florida who truly hit the jackpot. In 2015, they stumbled upon nearly $1 million worth of treasure. The discovery was 51 gold coins, 40 feet of ornate gold chains, and a rare coin that was made for Phillip V, the king of Spain.
They were once frightening and dangerous, and they still look spooky. I’m talking about pirate ships. One pirate shipwreck from the 18th century was excavated off the coast of Colombia in 2015. The treasure found there was worth between $4 and $17 billion. It contained precious stones, gold, and many other items.
The next one is an underwater city. Neapolis is a city washed away by a tsunami. It was built on the coast of North Africa nearly 1,700 years ago. Divers uncovered the underwater city’s remains in 2017. Researchers have also discovered Roman columns as well as household goods and tools.
Let’s go all the way back to 1503. Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was fighting a storm when he lost his ship “Esmeralda.” The ship was discovered in 1998, but it had to wait for more than a decade to be excavated. Researchers found navigational tools there. They didn’t have as much value as Spanish gold, but they were historical treasures.
In Amsterdam, they fish for bikes in canals. One-third of working Amsterdammers cycle to work. Others use their bikes for different purposes, like doing exercises, going shopping, and so on. There are more bikes in Amsterdam than permanent residents. Unfortunately, many bicycles and even some cars end up in Amsterdam’s canals.
The fact that Amsterdam has 165 canals with a combined length of 60 miles doesn’t make the authority’s job easier. Obviously, the owners don’t throw their bikes into the water. Bikes can end up in the canals because of strong winds, vandalism, theft, or by accident. Every year authorities fish up between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles!
The next one is a lost city. Heraklion was Ancient Egypt’s gateway to the Mediterranean. It got submerged and hidden under the sand. This city was famous. Maybe you’ve even heard about it. It was mentioned in the legend about Helen from Sparta and Paris from Troy. So how was this ancient city discovered?
In the early 2000s, a team of divers found a huge fragment of rock on the seabed and took it up to dry land. It turned out that it was a piece of the statue of Hapy, who was the lord of the river of ancient Egyptians. The team continued searching and found six other pieces. Around them, they also saw temple ruins, pieces of pottery, jewelry, coins, oil lamps, and so on.
Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Why is this park so special — besides being located in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean? You can see the park on a snorkeling or scuba diving trip. The sculptures are about 9–16 feet underwater.
The atmosphere and the experience itself make it special. The sculptures are made from concrete and steel. Some of them weigh as much as 15 tons. They’re covered with underwater creatures. The statues were put there to help protect reefs, maintain the health of the ecosystem, and restore underwater life in that area.
Submarines are designed to go underwater, so maybe you wouldn’t expect to see them on this list. But submarines do, in fact, sink. Divers have discovered many submarines. For instance, an Australian submarine was found off the coast of Papua New Guinea more than a century after it had sunk.
Here’s another submerged city — but this one was left underwater on purpose. You can see the ancient ruins of Lion City (or Shi Cheng) in a lake in China. This lake was created in 1959 when the valley at the base of Five Lions mountain was flooded to create a hydroelectric power station. The 1,400-year-old city — now ruins — got submerged by this flow and stayed this way for over 50 years. It lay untouched at the bottom of the lake until its exploration started in 2001.
Divers found out that many structures, carvings, guardian lions, and arches were still preserved. Researchers mapped and documented Shi Cheng. They also looked for a way to prevent these structures from damage.
In 2011, the city was announced to be a historical relic under protection. When you see the ruins of Lion City for the first time, the view will take your breath away. Imagine swimming in the dark waters. As you’re approaching the city, you see its huge walls and extensive carvings. Marvelous, isn’t it?
The Cancun Underwater Museum is probably the largest museum of its kind in the whole world. It wasn’t lost per se, but now, it’s home to an aquatic ecosystem. Who wouldn’t want to combine scuba diving and snorkeling with a visit to a world-class garden with 500 sculptures? Placed 30 feet under the surface, these sculptures are made from pH-neutral marine concrete so that they can stay on the ocean floor.
Plus, here, the sculptures change over time, unlike in a traditional museum. That’s because they become part of the underwater environment and a home to various plant and animal species. In one installation, nearly 450 life-size figurines are grouped together to hint at the harmonious coexistence of humanity. There is also “The Anthropocene,” which is an actual submerged Volkswagen Beetle placed by the Manchones Reef.
Okay, this is not a lost and found item, but this is just... It’s a giant jellyfish, and I wanted you to see it. This creature is known as the lion’s mane jellyfish, and it’s the largest known species of jellyfish. And have you ever discovered anything in the water?