Oceans of Wonder: 30 Unbelievable Underwater Discoveries

By Jack Ripley | March 12, 2024

Cleopatra's Kingdom

The sea holds a trove of treasures and secrets, but some are still awaiting discovery. While some underwater discoveries are expected, like the remnants of a sunken ship, others turn out to be mysterious yet wondrous surprises. From shipwrecks of the Great Lakes to aircraft recoveries of the world's oceans and underwater cities to long-hidden treasures, there's no telling what the oceans and seas of the world will reveal next. Check out some of the most fascinating yet eerie underwater discoveries in history.

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Cleopatra ruled as Queen of Egypt from 51 to 30 BCE. In 51 BCE, the throne passed from Ptolemy XII Auletes to 19-year-old Cleopatra, the king’s favorite daughter, and her 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII. Cleopatra’s palace resided in Ancient Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria. This city was founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great; it was occupied by Greece for many years after Alexander’s death before passing to Cleopatra.

Cleopatra was a charismatic, wise, and politically savvy ruler. She was influential in building the Egyptian economy and honing relationships with Arab nations. She was famous for her hot romance with Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. Cleopatra was the richest woman in the world at the time, and she lived in the lap of luxury. Her palace along with the city of Alexandria slipped into the Mediterranean Sea following an earthquake a few centuries after her passing. Dive teams have recovered more than 150 artifacts that tour the world as museum exhibits. Some of the items include gold coins, granite figurines, mummies, jewelry, and sculptures. These items are a small percentage of what’s thought to still reside in Cleopatra’s underwater kingdom.

Italy’s Christ of the Abyss

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This bronze statue was molded by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. Created to be placed underwater, the famed statue resides in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso. Christ of the Abyss was crafted to commemorate Dario Gonazatti, the first Italian to utilize scuba gear, near the site where he died underwater in 1947.

The statue depicts Jesus Christ with arms outstretched skyward in a show of peace and benediction. Though the salt water, passing ships, and sea growth have damaged the statue, it was removed for restoration in 2003 and promptly replaced in the sea. Two replicas, made from the same cast as Christ of the Abyss, were subsequently placed in Granada, along the coast of St. George, and the other in the National Marine Sanctuary on the coast of Key Largo, Florida. Each of the three statues can be explored when scuba diving or snorkeling.