Connecting Europe to Asia Minor, the Black Sea is full of surprises and mysteries. From the various theories about how it got its name and rumors about it being the landing point of Noah’s Ark to the gruesome facts, such as the intact bodies still resting at the bottom of the sea, it is surely a place worth visiting. Here are some things you might find interesting about this location:
1. The largest basin to contain anoxic water
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the Black Sea consists in the fact that it is currently the largest anoxic water body (depleted of oxygen) in the world. What this actually means is that the movement between the superior and inferior layers of water is very limited. The lack of oxygen in the lower water layer determines significant temperature differences, both factors making the bottom of the sea inactive. In fact, at around 200 meters of depth, the water contains a hydrogen sulphide zone that makes the presence of any life from impossible.
The Black Sea distinguishes itself via the fact that it has a positive freshwater balance, meaning that it receives more water from rivers and rain than it actually evaporates. The main source of salt water this sea receives comes from the transfer with the Mediterranean Sea. However, the replenishing process performed primarily through the Bosporus is extremely slow (it usually takes hundreds of years). The freshwater and salt water ratio changes according to the seasons, a key factor that has a significant impact on the marine creatures and plants living in the Black Sea.
2. Mysterious ancient shipwrecks
Recent diving expeditions have revealed several wooden shipwrecks perfectly preserved at the bed of the sea. The shipwrecks were dated back to the 3rd and 5th century B.C., a period which is associated with the ascension to glory of the ancient Greece. In addition to the preserved wood shipwrecks, scientists have also discovered the bones of a very large freshwater catfish species. The remains as well as the other items found at the site suggest that the Black Sea represented the crossroad of the Ancient World.
3. The largest underwater river
The mystery of the channels typically found at the bottom of the ocean floor is partially elucidated with the discovery of a very large underwater river in the Black Sea. The underwater river is the first flowing water that is still active and, because it carries sediments across the sea floor, researchers now believe that it has the potential of sustaining life in the inhospitable lower layer of the Black Sea. Sadly, verifying this hypothesis is extremely difficult due to the currents, rapids and waterfalls.
4. The water levels are always the same
Because the low and high tides in the Black Sea are absent, there are not fluctuations in the water levels. Consequentially, the sea surface is always calm, quiet and even serene.
5. Home to many exotic small islands
The Black Sea accommodates ten small islands, all of them incorporating unique eco systems with amazing flora and fauna. Add the fact that the islands are currently part of three different countries and you will understand why visiting these exotic islands is such a thrilling and interesting adventure.
6. It is believed to be the landing point of Noah’s Ark
The presence of Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey (along the coastline of the Black Sea) brought up several rumors in the archeology community suggesting that this sea could be a potential landing point for Noah’s Ark. However, as previously stated, these are just anecdotes that cannot be verified in any way at the time being. So far, only one thing is for sure: the Black Sea experienced a catastrophic rise in the water levels circa 5,000 years B.C.
7. The various theories on how the Black Sea got its name
One of the least known facts about the Black Sea is how it got its name. The first ones to name it as what was until then referred to simply as “The Sea” were the Ancient Greeks who called it Euxeinos Pontos, meaning the hospitable sea. Until the Greeks reached this sea, many who inhabited the shorelines considered it was impossible to navigate.
While there are various theories regarding the origin of the name, the prevalent hypothesis is that the Ottoman Empire came up with its modern name in medieval times because it seems to be derived from the Turkish word “Kara”. However, the Turkish word means North and not black as you would have expected.
In case you have not visited the Black Sea, then you should be prepared to observe a large dark water body that looks somewhat dirty. Essentially, it is far from what you are accustomed to in other oceans and seas. There are actually very few places where the water appears crystal clear.
8. It is believed that thousands of intact drown bodies now rest at the bed of the sea
The Black Sea contains approximately 13% oxygen in its composition at most, a negligible quantity that usually delays decomposition. Once researchers found perfectly preserved pieces of wood and ropes from ancient Greek ships, the rumors that the dead also persist in these dark waters have also emerged. Nonetheless, even though most scientists are estimating a very large shipwreck graveyard at the bottom of the sea, it is very unlikely that they will also find preserved bodies at this point.
9. Diversified geographic location
The geographic location of the Black Sea is another interesting fact, which promises unique adventures and traveling experiences for tourists. The Black Sea currently constitutes the water border of six different countries from Europe and Asia, namely Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.
One of the theories regarding the low amount of oxygen in the Black Sea is the overgrowth of oxygen-consuming plankton dubbed phytoplankton. Even though this type of plankton is responsible for half of the photosynthesis activity on Earth, in the Black Sea it found the optimal living conditions. The negative impact of large colonies of phytoplankton like the one inhabiting the Black Sea is that they consume all oxygen and hence, create large areas where marine life is impossible.