Reader Mail: What the Heck are These Weird Tracks on the Bottom of the Ocean?

Reader Mail: What the Heck are These Weird Tracks on the Bottom of the Ocean?

Weird tracks on the bottom of the ocean

When it comes to mysteries, there’s no better place for hiding them than the bottom of the ocean. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as much as 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored.

And yet some people don’t believe in sea monsters.

Well, thanks to the advent of the internet, we can do some of that exploring from the comfort of our computer chairs, and you never know what sorts of strange stuff will turn up. Our pal Samuel Burgan (AKA IceBurg) was doing just that, and found a bunch of bizarre markings on the ocean floor, so he sent a few snapshots our way.


Sam writes:

Hey guys, Iceburg here. I don’t know if this is your kind of thing or not but here it goes:

I was playing around with Google Earth a while back and noticed something strange on the ocean floor.

Starting off the East coast off South Carolina, just past the continental shelf, at about 33° 0’10.32″N  75° 9’26.39″W, there are strange tank-like tread marks heading East to West. I initially thought it was just a photo stitching artifact until I followed it all the way to  32°16’38.84″N  55°11’48.71″W, where the tracks stop, make an abrupt turn, then double back to continue on their course.

There are places where the trail crosses other trails. They appear to go all the way to the mid Atlantic ridge, at least that’s where I finally lost them.

Thought they might be satellite sweeps, but they stop and turn around. Wild stuff.

I’ll try to attach some pics. Check it out for yourself.

the weird undersea tracks turn around and cross themselves

The weird markings go on for miles and look almost as if someone has been driving a huge tank on the seafloor, and when I say huge, I mean HUGE. In fact, judging from the size of the tracks, the giant sea-tank would have to have treads around several city blocks wide.

What could be making these strange formations? An undiscovered species of gargantuan underwater eels? Alien spacecraft safely occupying the depths of our oceans? Secret military machinery? It’s hard to not let your mind wander when considering the more fantastic possibilities.

Regardless, I managed to stop daydreaming long enough to do a bit of googling and I might have found at least one possible explanation for the strange drag marks: they might be ship tracks.

According to Google themselves, ship tracks are the leftover traces of an oceanic depth measuring process called “echosounding”. Google previously wrote about the process when many of their users thought they might have stumbled onto remnants of Atlantis on Google Earth several years back.

From their blog:

Picture 6

You see, it’s actually quite hard to measure the depth of the ocean. Sunlight, lasers, and other electromagnetic radiation can travel less than 100 feet below the surface, yet the typical depth in the ocean is more than two and a half miles. Sound waves are more effective. By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process — known as echosounding — only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the “ship tracks.” In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas — likely an error — making the tracks stand out more.

While there is a decent chance that this might be what Sam stumbled onto, the only thing that keeps bothering me about the echosounding theory is the second image showing the the tracks turning in on themselves and shifting around all willy-nilly like. One would imagine that boats generally travel in straight lines.

Any ship captains, oceanographers, or underwater alien spacecraft experts want to weight in on IceBurg’s discovery?

Have your own weird discovery you want to share? I want to hear it! Find me on Facebook, on twitter @WeirdHQ, or leave a comment below!


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