OK sign

22 Good Things that Happened in 2020

Although 2020 has been overshadowed by a global pandemic that reshaped our society, there were still quite a few awesome things that happened this year. Throughout the months, we’ve kept you posted on many scuba and aquatic-related events worldwide because we like to focus on the positive. As this hectic year is coming to a close, it’s time to look back at the great news that you may have missed:

Continue reading
JU88 aircraft

Explore Malta’s Virtual Underwater Museum

Wreck diving is one of the most exciting underwater experiences. The shores of Europe have their fair share of wreck dive sites. From ancient wooden vessels to recent purposely sunk ships, the Mediterranean is littered with wrecks of all types, sizes, and ages. As the diving season in many parts of Europe is coming to a close (unless you enjoy diving in cold water), we can now move online and still do a little bit of “diving.”

This year, the Malta Tourism Authority, the University of Malta, and Heritage Malta launched the country’s first Virtual Underwater Museum. The platform offers a way for people to access the underwater wreck sites of Malta straight from the comfort of their homes.

Continue reading
18th century warship foca turkey

18th-century Warship Discovered on the Bottom of the Aegean Sea

A warship believed to have sunk approximately 250 years ago was recently discovered off the town of Foça in the İzmir province of Turkey. The wreck was added to the “Turkish Shipwreck Inventory Project: Blue Heritage (TUBEP)” study carried out by the Dokuz Eylul University (DEU) Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology with the support of the Presidency of Strategy and Budget.

Continue reading
deepspot poland

Poland Just Opened World’s Deepest Swimming Pool

On November 21, Poland broke a world record by opening the deepest swimming pool in the world. Aptly named “Deepspot,” the swimming pool has a maximum depth of 45.4 meters and is filled with 8,000 cubic meters of water. About 5,000 cubic meters of concrete were used over the two years it took to build the complex.

Continue reading
coral reef pinnacle great barrier reef

A 500-meter Tall Coral Reef Discovered in the Great Barrier Reef

Researchers aboard the research vessel Falkor operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute recently discovered a large, detached coral reef as they were mapping the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This is the eight-known detached coral reef in the area and the first to be discovered in 120 years. The rest were mapped in the 1880s.

The pinnacle of coral was first found on October 20 in the offshore Cape York area, in Far North Queensland. No one knew of its existence and was discovered by accident. On October 25, using the underwater robot SuBastian, the team of researchers conducted an exploratory dive that was live-streamed on Schmidt Institute’s website and YouTube.

“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean,” says Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean.”

The 500-meter high towering reef is taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and Petronas Twin Towers. It has a 1.5-kilometer-wide base and ends just 40 meters below the surface of the ocean. Another interesting fact is that detached reefs are stand-alone structures that are not connected to the Great Barrier Reef. What’s more, the newly discovered coral reef tower is estimated to be around 20 million years old.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995. The steepest falls came after the coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. Climate change is considered the main reason for the death of the corals, and studies show that the ability of the massive reef system to recover is compromised. Surprisingly, the new coral reef pinnacle is healthy and flourishing and does not show signs of bleaching.

SuBastian’s footage revealed that the reef is teeming with life of all sorts. With coral reefs disappearing throughout the world, isolated seamounts like this are considered critical habitats for marine life. Its upper section has soft corals, sponges, and sea fans, suggesting that strong currents and upwellings are bringing rich nutrients to the reef. Although the researchers didn’t find any new species, the seamount could be home to undiscovered creatures.

The discovery of this new reef is just one of the many findings by the Schmidt Ocean Institute. The year started with the discovery of stunning “gardens” or deep-sea corals in the Bremer Canyon Marine Park. In April, the team came across what is believed to be the longest recorded animal – a 45-meter-long siphonophore in the submarine canyons near Ningaloo. Additionally, researchers from the Western Australian Museum aboard the Institute’s research vessel Falkor also discovered up to 30 new underwater creatures. In August, the Institute’s scientists discovered five undescribed species of black coral and sponges.

As for the newly discovered coral reef pinnacle, with the help of mapping data and underwater imagery, it will most likely be studied extensively in the coming years. The researchers’ goal now is to understand the reef and its role within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Featured image: Schmidt Ocean Institute

cenote angelita, one of the creepiest dive sites in the world

7 of the Creepiest Dive Sites in the World

As we often say, there’s more to diving than just colorful tropical reefs. Take a look at some of the creepiest dive sites in the world – but be warned – these mysterious spots are not for the faint of heart.

Haunted Mansion, Japan

Where: Lake Motosu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minobu, Yamanashi
When: Year-round
Depth: 5-20 meters/16-65 feet
Visibility: 30 meters/100 feet

Lake Motosu is the deepest and third-largest of the Fuji Five Lakes. Just like all of its sibling lakes, the scenic area has become a popular resort with many hotels, campsites, and windsurfing facilities. Now let’s get to the spooky part. According to Japanese folklore, Lake Motosu is home to a monster named Mossy. Japan’s version of Nessie was discovered in the 1970s after an unidentified mysterious animal was sighted in Lake Motosu, an event that caused a huge stir at the time.

Despite the risk of bumping into Mossy, the lake is a popular dive location for freshwater divers. Haunted Mansion is a ghostly dive site named after the dead trees found underwater, with algae on the branches that look like spiderwebs. And although the spot already resembles a horror movie scene, the local dive centers go a step further on Halloween by placing carved pumpkins and skulls at the site.

Cenote Angelita, Mexico

Where: Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula
When: Year-round
Depth: 30 meters/100 feet
Visibility: 10-30+ meters/32-100+ meters

Although it translates as “Little Angel,” Cenote Angelita is far from looking heavenly. It’s one of the creepiest dive sites in Mexico but its strange beauty simply blows people away. Freshwater from the surface falls into the cenote and sits atop the underground saltwater. When the two layers of water meet, a layer of hydrogen sulfide is formed. This layer looks like a mystical cloud, and once you pass through the dense cloud, the water gets quite dark. To top it all off, ancient trees poke through the cloud, creating the illusion of an underwater jungle shrouded in mist. 

Turtle Tomb, Malaysia

Where: Sipadan Island
When: Year-round
Depth: 17-23 meters/55-75 feet
Visibility: 30 meters/100 feet

Turtle Tomb is a cave system that’s made its way on our list of creepiest dive sites in the world due to the numerous skeletons of green sea turtles found all over the seafloor. Beware – there are many side tunnels with dead ends. The turtles have died due to asphyxia after not finding their way out of the cave. A dolphin and a marlin have also found their final resting place here. The same can happen to inexperienced divers; this site should only be explored with a guide that knows the cave well.

Rummu Quarry and Prison, Estonia

Where: Rummu, Vasalemma Parish
When: December-February, July-August
Depth: 10 meters/33 feet
Visibility: 5-15 meters/16-50 feet

Not far from Tallinn lie the ruins of a former Soviet prison that housed about 400 inmates. This was a hard labor penal institution right next to a limestone quarry where the prisoners were put to work. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the prison and quarry fell into a state of abandonment and became flooded. Soon enough, the entire area turned into a large lake that consumed most of the buildings. 

Who would have thought that a former prison would become one of the most popular dive sites in Estonia and arguably one of the quirkiest submerged spots in all of Europe? Underwater, you can see the prison walls, a bunker, several buildings, machinery, different objects, as well as a sunken forest that adds to the surreal scenery. 

Neptune Memorial Reef, USA

Where: Key Biscayne, Florida
When: Year-round
Depth: 12 meters/40 feet
Visibility: 10 meters/33 feet

The cemetery is seen as a place for families to mourn and visit their loved ones, so a handful of people may not be too happy with strangers visiting a graveyard just for the thrills. However, in some parts of the world, going to the cemetery on Halloween (or a similar holiday) to welcome the visiting spirits is nothing out of the ordinary. Not even when that cemetery is underwater.

The Neptune Memorial Reef in Florida is an underwater columbarium that’s open to all scuba divers, whether you have a loved one resting there or are simply curious to see this unique artificial reef. The site is also known as the Atlantis Memorial Reef because it was based on the concept of a lost sunken city. The reef is home to a growing marine habitat that numbers nearly 200 coral colonies and 56 species of fish.

Cheow Lan Lake, Thailand

Where: Surat Thani Province
When: Year-round
Depth: 25 meters/82 feet
Visibility: 5-10 meters/16-32 feet

The Cheow Lan Lake is a 185-square-kilometer artificial lake built in the 1980s to generate power. It’s located in the south-western corner of Khao Sok National Park, an area inhabited by a range of mammals such as elephants, tigers, tapirs, and monkeys. The lake itself is a major tourism destination in Southern Thailand, especially among divers who are looking for something else than just tropical waters and coral reefs.

The underwater landscape of Cheow Larn Lake seems otherworldly. The thick layer of Sulphur created by the decaying trees that were once part of a lush forest creates an eerie atmosphere that appeals especially to underwater photographers. But the lake holds other wonders, not just the mystical sunken forest. One of the southern legs of Cheow Lan lake is Tham Pra Daeng (Red Cave); its entrance is an impressive formation of overlapping stalactites. 

The Alley of Leaders
Where: Cape Tarkhankut Underwater Museum, Crimea
When: May to October
Depth: 10-12 meters/32-40 feet
Visibility: 30 meters/100 feet

Coming face to face with former Soviet leaders and philosophers such as Lenin, Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, and Marx may not be spooky in a traditional sense, but you have to admit that’s pretty weird. The Alley of Leaders has dozens of algae-covered sculptures and busts of some of the most feared and controversial historical figures in the world. To loosen up the commie atmosphere, the creator of this underwater museum has also added a few busts of cosmonaut Yury Gagarin as well as small replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge.

Salem Express, Egypt

Where: Safaga, just south of Hurghada
When: Late July to early December
Depth: 30 meters/98 feet
Visibility: 20 meters/65 feet

The Salem Express was a 100-meter-long passenger ferry that sank in 1991 after colliding with the Hyndman Reefs on the Egyptian coast. The impact destroyed the bow and forced open the visor, and the ship quickly took on water and became fully submerged. To this day, it remains one of the greatest marine tragedies in the Red Sea. More than 470 passengers lost their lives, and, at least according to the officials, all bodies were recovered after the sinking. 

The controversy over whether the wreck should or shouldn’t be dived is one that will probably never reach a satisfactory conclusion. The site is a Maritime Tomb and penetration is forbidden, although many venture inside. There are still many personal items all over the wreck, such as luggage, carpets, even bicycles and strollers. Due to the massive loss of life, this is a very eerie and emotional dive.

We’re curious to know: what are the creepiest dive sites you’ve ever explored? Leave us a comment below.

Featured Photo: Tom St George