by Dina Abdulamir
Ever since humans looked out to the sea, they have wondered what was out there. This idea encouraged William Beebe to be the first person to explore the depth of the ocean. Oceanographers began to pay attention to the ocean in many ways by observing waves, storms, tides, and currents that carried their rafts in certain directions at different times. Although, oceanographers are currently mapping the ocean floor, much of the ocean has not been explored. “Only about 5 percent of the ocean bottom has been explored using shipboard sonar.” (Reichhardt, par 5). Yet, scientific experts claim to know what doesn’t exist. With 95% of the ocean floor unexplored how can they predict the unknown “Note from NOAA: Mermaids don’t exist” (The Washington Post par 1). We think we’ve explored our planet, but those statistics are sobering.
Topographically, we know more about the moon than we do about Earth. For example, prior to Columbus’ voyage to the West Indies, most scientists of that time period thought that the earth was flat. Likewise, scientists had the misconception that the depths of the sea lacked aquatic life. There was argument until recently about the existence of life deep in the sea having had those theories changed should have humbled the scientific society not to make conclusive statements as to what does or does not exist in the deep ocean.
The history of underwater diving starts with free diving both for food and valuable resources, such as pearls. Advancement in diving technology led to diving suits and the first submarines. The first crude diving bells allowed us to work underwater for extended periods of time. As we began to dive deeper into the sea, we began to understand how deep the ocean really was. In spite of the high pressures and cold temperatures, life flourished in the depths. Later the development of sailing vessels made the world smaller and brought together many cultures that had previously remained isolated. As ship construction techniques continued to advance, we were able to venture further out to sea. Currently, oceanographers are still looking into exploring the unknown portions of the ocean floors. As a result, The XPRIZE foundation has announced the winners of an ambitious three-year program to develop safer, faster, and more affordable ways of mapping the ocean floor. The hope is to eventually map out the entirety of the sea floor and its biosphere, opening vast areas for future exploration and potential scientific discoveries. “A team of ocean scientists from 14 nations has won the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. Created the Sea KIT, a low-cost unscrewed surface vessel that works with a cloud-based data processing system to rapidly visualize the planet’s seabed.” (XPRIZE par 1). As humans mapped the ocean floor, the complexity of the alien world became apparent. The discovery of hydrothermal vents stunned the scientific community when an entire ecosystem of life was discovered that needed no sunlight to survive. Prior to this discovery, scientists believed that there couldn’t be life on the floor of the ocean (Lubofsky par 1). By setting out to explore new areas and gain more knowledge, scientists are discovering more about the earth. Using this logic, how can modern scientist declare that something does not exist when 95% is left undiscovered.
In 2013, a video surfaced that introduced the idea of mermaids living among us, in the sea. While many science organizations, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, argued the authenticity of this video, it led many people to question the idea of their existence. I argue that, due to a large majority of the ocean being unexplored, that science could be uninformed. Much of the ocean is unknown to scientist, so many argue they should not be quick to dismiss possibilities of other life forms existing. 95% of the ocean depths remain unexplored, which means that majority of the ocean is unknown to the humankind. Therefore, it is possible that there may be other, perhaps more intelligent, life to be discovered.
For the longest time, mermaids have been considered to be just a myth. Scientists remain skeptical to the many stories regarding the discovery of mermaids. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has set its agency as leading figure regarding ocean discoveries. NOAA came out against the reality of mermaids after a documentary-style science fiction program on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet suggested in May of 2013, that the body of a mermaid had been found. Animal Planet set up an interview with two scientists, who shared footage showing their encounter with the NOAA, of them capturing a creature that looks like a mermaid on March 6, 2013 in South Africa. As a result, NOAA told Animal Planet it is not okay to share the mermaid video because it will create a conflict between them and the viewers, causing lasting damage to the public’s trust in science. The New Evidence was, at the time of airing, the most successful show in Animal Planet’s history. Animal planet argued that mermaids were real and that scientists from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration were actively hiding their existence from the world.
In my opinion, the NOAA was being selfish because they were mainly concerned about the public viewers discrediting their agency. They are still trying to gain all the credit from the public viewers by saying that they have the authority to explore the ocean and Animal Planet does not. Furthermore, NOAA threatened Animal planet with legal actions if they continued to further the idea that mermaids exist. However, claiming that mermaids exist is not a crime. In fact, NOAA has previously released materials that would raise suspicion about undiscovered life underwater. In 1997, NOAA scientists recorded a mysterious sound in the Pacific Ocean in that they called the bloop. “In 1997, while searching for underwater volcanoes off the coast of South America, scientists recorded something they couldn’t explain: a strange, exceptionally loud noise. They called it the bloop.” (Rogers par 1). When people heard this sound clip, they thought the noise was made by a giant sea monster. It wasn’t until later the NOAA explained an icequake, which happens when an iceberg breaks away from a glacier and causes a loud crack. Despite what NOAA said, there are many people who feel this is an unexplained noise created by an unknown sea creature.
Scientists have been known to make claims without adequate information. For example, the idea of the Earth being flat is considered not only inaccurate, but a model of ignorance. However, from at least the 15th century, the theory of the flat Earth began to fall out of favor and scientists proved that earth was rounded. Based on that logic and coupled with the fact that 95% of the ocean floor is undiscovered, scientist could be wrong about their claim of intelligent life in the sea, like mermaids. Furthermore, at one point and time we thought that no life can survive without the sunlight. However, now we know that there are many ecosystems that exist without sunlight. For example, the discovery of the hydrothermal vents on the floor of the ocean, which is a thriving ecosystem that uses no sunlight to survive.
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of things in the water that we don’t know about. For example, the Milky Sea phenomenon is an unusual scene that happens near Thailand. The circumstances under which Milky Sea forms is almost entirely unknown. Scientists only know that the bacteria, which is part of the glow, attracts fish to eat it so it can live in their stomach. Another example is, more than 5000 feet deep in the ocean near California, we have found a purple bulb that scientist have never seen before. “Deep under the sea, near the Channel Islands several miles off the coast of California, marine scientists noticed a glowing purple orb hiding in the shadows. They zoomed in on the creature with an underwater robot camera — and were completely mystified. They had never seen anything like this before.” (Resnick par 1). The purple orb is described as a disco ball, scientist thought that the purple orb was kind of related to a kind of a snail. These examples show us to see that there are mysterious things that have not been explored yet and may eventually appear in the future, which could be true about mermaids.
Humans have always considered themselves unique. For example, we have set ourselves to be on top of the food chain. Humans have power over animals, animals have power over plants, and so on – but what happens if an intelligent life has been found in the ocean that may have power over us? If mermaids exist, that means that they are smart enough to hide themselves for a long time and could potentially be a threat to humans.
Overall there is more in the ocean than we realize. The ocean floor, right here on Earth, remains one of the most underexplored places known to humans. Whether or not undersea exploration will become more of a priority, currently, remains as unknown as parts of the ocean floor itself. Based on this science agencies needs to be humbler and more open minded to the existence of the unknown, because that’s part of the developing process in life. That idea has led me to say that scientists and agencies like NOAA cannot claim that mermaids don’t exist until they explore the vast areas of the ocean floors.
Lubofsky, Evan. “ The Discovery of Hydrothermal Vents” The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Online, www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/the-discovery-of-hydrothermal-vents/. Accessed 1 Dec 2019.
Reichhardt, Tony.” Water World: A New Map Brings The Ocean Floor Into Sharp Focus” Gale General OneFile Online, go-gale-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&u=lom_lansingcc&id=GALE|A18082742&v=2.1&it=r&sid=ITOF&asid=12db3603 .Accessed 2 Dec 2019.
Resnick, Brian. “Scientists Discovered a Glowing Purple Orb at The Bottom of The Ocean. They Still Have No Idea What It Is” Vox Online, www.vox.com/2016/7/28/12310762/mysterious-purple-orb-nautlius.Accessed 2 Dec 2019.
Rogers, Kaleigh.” The Bloop: An Under-Water Mystery That Took Nearly 10 Years to Solve.” The Vice Online, www.vice.com/en_us/article/8qpvdx/the-bloop-an-underwater-mystery-that-took-nearly-20-years-to-solve . Accessed 1 Dec 2019.
Wood, Sam. “ Note from NOAA: Mermaids Don’t Exist” Proquest Online, search-proquest-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/docview/1023270130?pq-origsite=summon. Accessed 2 Dec 2019.
XPRIZE.” Winners Announced In $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE for Advancement in Autonomous Ocean Exploration.” Online, www.xprize.org/articles/ocean-discovery-winners-announced. Accessed 23 Nov 2019.