By Steven Casale.
1. The Curious Case of the Salish Sea Feet
The Pacific Northwest is no stranger to grisly mysteries – Ted Bundy claimed some of his first victims in Seattle. But since 2007, something very strange has been washing in from the Salish Sea: detached human feet.
The first foot was found on Jedediah Island, British Columbia tucked into a men’s size 12 Adidas right-foot shoe – an uncommon design found mainly in India. The second foot also wore a size 12 right-foot shoe, this time a Reebok model sold worldwide. In total, fifteen feet have turned up along the shores of the PacNW – 11 in Canada and four in the U.S.
Just where are these mystery appendages coming from? One theory maintains that they’re the remains of an all-male plane crash that occurred in 2005 off Quadra Island (although this doesn’t explain the lone female foot found in 2008). Another theory suggests that the feet made their way across the Pacific in the aftermath of the powerful tsunami of 2004. Still another theory holds that they are the rotted-off parts of people who jumped to their deaths from Vancouver’s Pattullo Bridge.
2. The Vanished Crew of the Mary Celeste
In December 1872, a lone ship was spotted off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands. There were no people aboard and the lifeboat was missing.
When a rescue crew boarded the ghost ship, they found that rations were well-stocked, alcohol provisions unopened, and the captain’s chambers undisturbed. It was as if the entire crew simply vanished into the ocean air.
Mary Celeste, as the ship was named, had left New York a month earlier en route to Genoa. Subsequent investigations hatched numerous explanations for the maritime mystery – including a piracy attempt turned deadly, an attack by a giant squid, a drunken mutiny attempt, and insurance fraud committed by the crew. None of the theories stuck, however, and the strange case of the Mary Celeste remains unsolved.
3. A Row Boat at the End of the World
Bouvet Island is one the most remote places on Earth – an inhospitable chunk of land between southern Africa and Antarctica in the Southern Ocean. Technically owned by Norway, the 19 square mile wasteland appears as a protrusion of ice on the horizon.
In the 1950s, South African scientists began exploring Bouvet in hopes of establishing a maritime station. In 1964, researchers stumbled across a puzzling sight.
Floating in a lagoon was a small boat with two oars and no markings. Clearly people had been aboard at some point, yet no signs of life (or death) were found nearby.
Researchers scoured Bouvet for clues to the vessel’s origins, its date of arrival, and the fate of its crew – but their search turned up empty. To this day, the ghostly boat remains a mystery.
4. The Lost Men of the Sarah Joe
In 1979, five Maui men embarked on a fishing expedition in a small Boston whaler named Sarah Joe. Soon after setting sail, a powerful storm swept through the region and all contact with the ship was lost. A search party attempted to track down the ship after the storm cleared, but the Sarah Joe could not be located.
Ten years later, John Naughton, a marine biologist who had participated in the original search, was conducting research on a deserted atoll in the Marshall Islands. There, he made a startling discovery: the remains of the Sarah Joe next to a shallow grave that contained a human jawbone.
Dental records proved that the bones belonged to one of Sarah Joe’s crewmembers. But where were the remaining four men? To this day, their fates remain unknown.
5. A Physicist’s Sudden Disappears at Sea
Ettore Majorana was an Italian physicist who abruptly disappeared while sailing from Palermo to Naples in 1938. His body was never found and all investigations into what could have conspired fell flat.
Intriguingly, Ettore reportedly withdrew all the money from his bank account just before his fateful voyage. It’s not entirely clear why Ettore set sail, but on the day of his disappearance he sent a letter to Antonio Carrelli, the director of the Naples Physics Institute.
“Dear Carrelli, I made a decision that has become unavoidable. There isn’t a bit of selfishness in it, but I realize what trouble my sudden disappearance will cause you and the students. For this as well, I beg your forgiveness, but especially for betraying the trust, the sincere friendship and the sympathy you gave me over the past months. I ask you to remind me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, possibly later too. E. Majorana”
Possible theories include suicide, a clandestine escape to Argentina, enrollment in a monastery, or a planned disappearance to carry out a new life as a beggar.
6. SS Baychimo: The Ghost Ship of the Arctic
In 1931, a WWI cargo steamer named the SS Baychimo became lodged in drifting ice off the northern coast of Alaska. The crew of the Baychimo left in search of assistance. Yet when they returned two days later, the stranded ship had vanished. It reappeared later that year, once again lodged in ice, and a second rescue attempt was performed. But a brutal blizzard forced the men to abandon their efforts. When the weather cleared, the SS Baychimo had vanished once more.
Numerous sightings of the SS Baychimo were reported in the decades that followed. Some witnesses even claimed to have boarded the ghost ship, yet it always seemed to slip back to sea. The vessel was last seen in 1969 between Alaska and Russia in the Chukchi Sea – 38 years after it first went missing.
This article was first published on The Line Up.
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