What mysteries do the Earth's waters hide?
04 Mayo 2018 14:46
28-year-old scuba diver Dallas Vega's favourite pastime isn't exactly common: he's a treasure hunter. However, he's not one in the traditional sense. He found that, by scouring the beds of rivers and lakes, you could find an endless trove of stuff, both valuable and not, which people have accidentally dropped or thrown in the murky depths below.
He's equipped with a breathing apparatus, a pair of goggles, a metal detector, and a camera to record it all. Most of the discoveries he has made have been rather mundane, like cheap sunglasses, scissors, and goggles. However, he has also dug up (still working!) iPhones, GoPro cameras, and cardholders.
More unsettlingly, he also once found a gun with a bullet and the safety down. You can picture an eerie scene, where someone, in the middle of the night, is about to commit a heinous act. At the last possible minute, as if in a film, they change their mind, throw the loaded gun in the lake, and walk away with renewed purpose.
Ever since human civilisation first began, pools of water and the mysteries they hide have fascinated us. Not only have we looked to the skies, but we've also been trying to shed light on the darkness of the planet's deep waters. But even with the efforts of explorers, scientists, and other curious minds like Dallas Vega, we have still explored only five percent of the world's oceans. This is staggeringly low, considering that the oceans cover about 70% of the Earth's surface.
That being said, we have still made some phenomenal discoveries over the years, both natural and man-made. In the late 1960s, Nicholas Flemming discovered the ancient city of Pavlopetri, in Peloponnese, Greece, off the coast of southern Laconia. This city is allegedly 5,000 years old, making it one of the oldest submerged settlements and the oldest in the Mediterranean.
Similarly, in the late 1930s, an RAF pilot spotted ruins while flying over Abu Qir Bay, in Egypt. It wasn't until 1999, however, that the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio explored the ruins and discovered the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion, named so due to its Egyptian and Greek names respectively.
Heracleion peaked between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Recently, the British Museum had an exhibition titled Sunken Cities, in which it displayed an incredible number of completely intact artifacts from the city: giant statues to ancient deities, huge legislative tablets in one piece, and entirely preserved human and animal mummies.
A very common criticism of space exploration is that, before we can look to the stars, we should finish exploring our own home, given that we've still barely scratched the surface. The Mariana Trench, with its deepest portion at over 11,000 metres down, the deepest part of any ocean, has only had four descent attempts so far since 1960.
So, next time you go swimming in a sea, lake, or river, don't forget your goggles and breathing mask. Who knows what untold treasures await you?