Mysterious holes discovered on ocean floor puzzle experts

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Mysterious holes discovered on ocean floor puzzle experts

There are holes in their knowledge regarding these mysterious oceanic perforations — so experts are asking for help.

Scientists have been left flabbergasted over a series of mysterious holes discovered this week at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted photos of the underwater formations on Facebook and Twitter, where sea-savvy social media users have postulated that they could be everything from “wormholes” to “aliens.”

“Okay Facebookers, time to get out those scientist hats!” the NOAA declared in a statement regarding the pits, which are located 1.7 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This remote region is the world’s longest mountain range, stretching 10,000 miles from the northern to southern points of the body of water.

Accompanying photos show the perplexing holes, which are aligned perfectly on the sediment of the ocean floor.

“On Saturday’s #Okeanos dive, we observed several of these sublinear sets of holes in the sediment,” NOAA described of the Atlantis-esque perforations. “These holes have been previously reported from the region, but their origin remains a mystery.”

Some social media users suggested that that the aquatic anomaly could've been caused by an undersea gas pipe.
Some social media users suggested that that the aquatic anomaly could’ve been caused by an undersea gas pipe.
NOAA Ocean Exploration

They added, “While they look almost human-made, the little piles of sediment around the holes make them seem like they were excavated by…something.”

The scientists then asked Facebook oceanographers for their “hypotheses,” which resulted in a treasure trove of wonderful and whacky theories.

‘I’m not saying that it’s aliens — but it’s aliens’

Anonymous commenter on the NOAA’s now-viral Facebook thread.

Many comment section Captain Nemos suggested that the holes were created by some type of burrowing worm such as the “Bobbit worm,” a “Dune”-evoking denizen of the deep that buries itself in sand or gravel and waits for its victims. When a prey item such as fish passes, the critter snaps them up with its cartoonish scissor-like jaws and yanks them back into his hole at speeds of up to 20 feet per second. It then leaves a hole in the spot where it just fed.

Scientists agreed that the wormhole theory was definitely plausible. “Many organisms (e.g. sea worms, burrowing crustaceans and sea cucumbers) move into and through the sediment and disturb it – often in regular patterns – this is called bioturbation (biological disturbance),” Professor Mike Elliot, chair in estuarine & coastal sciences at the University of Hull in the UK, told the Daily Mail. “Some burrow horizontally (like a mole) while ingesting organic matter in the sediment and then the tunnel may collapse behind them – that would give the pattern seen.”

Although, he pointed out that if the mystery critter were a worm, you’d usually “see mounds of egested sediment behind the animal although that could be the areas where the tunnel hasn’t collapsed.”

The undersea holes were discovered near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an undersea formation that's also the world's longest mountain range, stretching 10,000 miles north-to-south along the Atlantic ocean.
The undersea holes were discovered near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an undersea formation that’s also the world’s longest mountain range, stretching 10,000 miles north-to-south along the Atlantic ocean.
NOAA Ocean Exploration

Others speculated that the holes were created by crabs with one armchair aquatic scientist writing, “A previously unknown crab species which hides in rectangular holes and hunts in linear packs, waiting for prey to fall into their clutches.”

Professor Elliot explained “a physical puncturing of the sediment from above (either by a predator looking for prey in the sediment) could leave a regular pattern like this,” citing the sewing machine patterns left by wading birds on mudflat.”

However, the scientist added that he didn’t know if any “deep sea animals could do that.” Perhaps they were created by the teeth of this dentally-endowed crab, which was inadvertently snared by Norwegian trawlerman Roman Fedortsov.

One Twitter user suggested that that the aquatic anomaly could be a “piece of pipe that was perforated and laying on the seabed,” although this is unlikely as the mid-Atlantic ridge is largely unexplored by humans, per the NOAA.

Some Facebook users said the culprit could've been a the "Bobbit worm," a "Dune"-evoking denizen of the deep that buries itself in sand or gravel, where it waits to snatch prey with its jumbo jaws.
Some Facebook users said the culprit could’ve been a “Bobbit worm,” a “Dune”-evoking denizen of the deep that buries itself in sand or gravel, where it waits to snatch prey with its jumbo jaws.
Getty Images/ImaZinS RF

Meanwhile, other deep sea speculators chalked up the formation to gas pockets. However, while scientists explained that gas holes were definitely possible, they felt that they wouldn’t leave such linear, equidistant patterns.

“Gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide can build up in sediments and carbon dioxide seeps are common,” said Professor Elliot. “These all leave pock-marks but they are not usually as regular as these.”

Dr. Chris Yesson, a research fellow at London’s Institute of Zoology, said that animals were a far more likely culprit.

Of course, NOAA’s query prompted plenty of silly responses as well with one Facebook funnyman writing that the holes were created by a “transatlantic underwater sea bed cable, (internet, old phone cable, etc.).”

“I would say Star Fish doing cartwheels,” joked another, while one comment section biologist wrote that it was a “swordfish sharpening its bill.”

Meanwhile, other conspiracy theorists said that the holes could be extraterrestrial in origin a la undersea crop circles.

“I’m not saying that it’s aliens, but it’s aliens,” quipped one tinfoil hatter on the now-viral thread.

Here’s hoping they aren’t similar to the recently-discovered “Red Sea” “deadpool,” which kills nearly every creature that swims into it.

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