Ghost Ship: Tracking down the Octavius Legend?

The Gloriana Ghost Ship (Octavius Legend)

The Gloriana Ghost Ship (Octavius Legend)
Description: Illustration from The Blue Adventure Book (1905)
Source: The Blue Adventure Book (Digitized by Google Books)

According to legend, the Herald discovered a ghost ship named the Octavius near Greenland in 1775. They found the entire crew frozen at the helm. The captain’s log, last dated November 11, 1762, indicated the Octavius had been lost at sea for over 13 years. It had gotten trapped in the ice and somehow managed to successfully traverse the fabled Northwest Passage after the crew had succumbed to the frozen tundra.

A Possible Origin for the Octavius Ghost Ship?

I’ve spent the last few days tracking down the truth behind the legend. Yesterday, I was able to push the story back 1905, thanks to an entry in The Blue Adventure Book: A collection of Stirring Scenes and Moving Accidents from the World of Adventure. It tells a very similar story to that of the Octavius. Here’s more from me:

Back in 1775, John Warrens was captain of the Try Again. One day, he came across a ghost ship named the Gloriana. He boarded it and discovered a frozen crew. The log-book indicated the ship had spent the last 13 years as a floating coffin. So, we’ve got a similar story about a crew being frozen for 13 years. The date in the log-book, November 11, 1762, is the same as in the Octavius story. And we’ve also got the captain taking the log-book as proof while leaving the rest of the ship behind.

In the Gloriana tale, there’s no mention of the Northwest Passage. That, along with the Octavius moniker, appears to be a later addition. But otherwise, the stories are very similar. So, how much of the Gloriana ghost ship tale is accurate? Was it originally a work of fiction? If not, was it embellished over the years? Well, the Blue Adventure Book version was written in the first person. But no source is given. So, it could be a word-for-word copy of the original story or it could be a fictionalized entry.

An Earlier Source for the Octavius Ghost Ship?

After some digging, I managed to track down a much earlier source for this ghost ship story. There was a flurry of articles written about it in late 1828 and early 1829. The earliest version I’ve found so far was published on December 13, 1828 in a Philadelphia-based newspaper named The Ariel: A Literary and Critical Gazette. The article is entitled The Dangers of Sailing in High Latitudes. Here’s a taste:

Captain Warrens’ curiosity was so much excited, that he immediately leaped into the boat with several seamen, and rowed towards her. On approaching, he observed that her hull was miserably weatherbeaten, and not a soul appeared upon the deck, which was covered with snow to a considerable depth. He hailed her crew several times, but no answer was returned. Previous to stepping on board, an open port hole near the main chains caught his eye, and on looking into it, he perceived a man reclining back in a chair, with writing materials on a small table before him, but the feebleness of the light made every thing very indistinct.

The party, therefore, went upon deck, and having removed the hatchway, which they found closed, they descended to the cabin. They first came to the apartment which Captain Warrens had viewed through the port hole. A tremour seized him as he entered it. Its inmate retained his former position, and seemed to be insensible of strangers. He was found to be a corpse, and a green damp mould had covered his cheeks and forehead, and veiled his eye balls. He held a pen in his hand, and a log book before him, the last sentence in whose unfinished page thus, “11th Nov. 1762; We have been enclosed in the ice seventy days. The fire went out yesterday, and our master has been trying ever since to kindle it again but without success. His wife died this morning. There is no relief -“

Note that the time in the ice is seventy days here as opposed to seventeen days in the Blue Adventure Book version. Also, this version has Captain Warrens discovering the name of the ship (which is never given) after some detective work. The Blue Adventure Book version makes it clear that the name Gloriana is etched “in tall faded letters above her blistered stern.” But the stories are still almost identical in content. On a side note, this ghost ship story seems to get revived every few decades. It made another appearance around 1847, with similar articles being written as far apart as the Republican Advocate (Batavia, New York) and the South Australian Register.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, here’s where I stand. I’ve traced the Octavius ghost ship story back to 1828. That’s 77 years closer than I was yesterday. However, I’m still 53 years short of a primary source. If anyone has any pre-1828 information on this story, let me know. You might just help me solve a centuries-old ghost ship legend.

Ghost Ship: A New Twist in the Octavius Legend?

John Warrens discovers a frozen crew onboard the Gloriana Ghost Ship

John Warrens discovers a frozen crew onboard the Gloriana Ghost Ship
Description: Illustration from The Blue Adventure Book (1905)
Source: The Blue Adventure Book (Digitized by Google Books)

Two days ago, I wrote about a ghost ship named the Octavius, which traversed the Northwest Passage with a frozen crew back in 1775. I’ve been curious about the Octavius for some time but have never been able to find a primary source documenting the story. After my article, Ralf Bülow pointed me toward a possible answer in the Nunatsiaq Online:

Last week I wrote about the mythical voyage of the Octavius through the Northwest Passage. Then this past weekend, while perusing some books on Arctic whaling, I came across a whaler’s tale that bears a striking similarity to the Octavius story. The name of the ship is different, and there is no reference to the mystery vessel having traversed the Northwest Passage. But the date of the alleged entry in the log-book of the ghost vessel is exactly the same – 11 November 1762…

Back in 1775, John Warrens was captain of the Try Again. One day, he came across a ghost ship named the Gloriana. He boarded it and discovered a frozen crew. The log-book indicated the ship had spent the last 13 years as a floating coffin. So, we’ve got a similar story about a crew being frozen for 13 years. The date in the log-book, November 11, 1762, is the same as in the Octavius story. And we’ve also got the captain taking the log-book as proof while leaving the rest of the ship behind.

All things being equal, this seems like a viable source for the modern Octavius ghost ship story. But the Nunatsiaq Online article was based on a 1937 book rather than source material. So, I did a little more digging. So, far the earliest reference I can find for the Gloriana ghost ship story comes from The Blue Adventure Book: A collection of Stirring Scenes and Moving Accidents from the World of Adventure, which was published in 1905:

It was in the middle of August, 1775 – I have cause enough to remember the date – that I, John Warrens, captain of the Greenland whaler Try Again, ran across the experience that I am going to tell, word for word, just as it happened. I can’t say i expect to be believed, though reckoned a truthful man; but I’m growing accustomed to that. My private consolation is that I never had half the wits enough to invent it; so if you don’t believe what I tell you for gospel, why, in a way, you’re only paying me a compliment after all…

The story purports to be a first-hand account. Unfortunately, The Blue Adventure Book doesn’t detail its sources. So, we’re 32 years closer to getting to the bottom of this story. Unfortunately, we’re still 230 years short of a primary source. If anyone has any information, let me know. Who knows? Maybe we can solve the mystery of the Octavius ghost ship legend once and for all

Ghost Ship: The Mysterious Case of the Octavius?

Do Ghost Ships Exist?

Do Ghost Ships Exist?
Description: Illustration from The Ghost Ship by John Conroy Hutcheson (1901)
Attribution: Henry Austin
Source: Wikimedia Commons

On October 11, 1775, the Herald came across a strange ghost ship named the Octavius near Greenland. Upon closer inspection, they discovered the entire crew frozen at the helm. The captain’s log, last dated November 11, 1762, indicated the Octavius had been lost at sea for over 13 years.

Amazingly enough, the log revealed the Octavius had attempted to become the first ship  to successfully traverse the fabled Northwest Passage. Apparently, it got trapped in the ice and only completed the passage after the crew had succumbed to the frozen tundra. The Herald took the log but otherwise left the ship untouched. The Octavius was never seen again. Presumably, it’s still out there somewhere, trapped in an endless sea of ice.

It’s quite a story…but is it real? Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a primary source to substantiate it. And there are no records of the log either. Still, I’m looking for them, among others. Tracking down a real-life ghost ship has long been a dream of mine. But in the meantime, we’ll just have to enjoy the stories. Here’s more from Ghost Ships of the World:

In 1761, a sailing ship named The Octavius departed London loaded with cargo bound for China.  Having safely arrived at it’s destination and taking on another load for the return trip, the captain decided to take advantage of the unusually warm weather and chance an attempt at the shorter route via the northwest passage which until that point, had never been done successfully.  So in 1762, The Octavius departed China with a load of goods for the return trip to the Atlantic and headed northward to attempt an Arctic passage.  The ship made it through the passage…  thirteen years later as a ghost ship…

(See the rest at Ghost Ships of the World)

Lost Life Found Deep Beneath Antarctica?

Does Life Exist Deep beneath Antarctica?

Does Life Exist Deep beneath Antarctica?
Description: Photograph of Mount Erebus (Ross Island, Antarctica)
Attribution: Richard Waitt, U.S. Geological Survey (1972)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cells containing DNA have been found deep beneath Antarctica’s ice. But the most important question still needs to be answered…are they still alive? Here’s more from Crux Guest Blogger at Discover:

The search continues for life in subglacial Lake Whillans, 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—but a thrilling preliminary result has detected signs of life. At 6:20am on January 28, four people in sterile white Tyvek suits tended to a winch winding cable onto the drill platform. One person knocked frost off the cable as it emerged from the ice borehole a few feet below. The object of their attention finally rose into sight: a gray plastic vessel, as long as a baseball bat, filled with water from Lake Whillans, half a mile below.

The bottle was hurried into a 40-foot cargo container outfitted as a laboratory on skis. Some of the lake water was squirted into bottles of media in order to grow whatever microbes might inhabit the lake. Those cultures could require weeks to produce results. But one test has already produced an interesting preliminary finding. When lake water was viewed under a microscope, cells were seen: their tiny bodies glowed green in response to DNA-sensitive dye. It was the first evidence of life in an Antarctic subglacial lake…

(See the rest at Discover)

The Dinosaur Expedition…What Went Wrong?

The Newmac Expedition, which hoped to investigate the legend of mokele-mbembe, the so-called last living dinosaur, appears to have come to an abrupt end. What went wrong?

“Is a Brontosaurus Roaming Africa’s Wilds?
The New York Herald, February 13, 1910
Source: Old Fulton NY Post Cards

Mokele-mbembe…the Last Living Dinosaur?

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They described the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in the mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur…the last living dinosaur.

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

On July 19, we reported rumors that the Newmac Expedition had gone extinct. This has yet to be confirmed.

What happened to the Newmac Expedition?

Two days ago, Marrero posted an article on his website detailing his reasons for withdrawing from the Newmac Expedition. Ultimately, it came down to financial problems.

“Two days before Stephen and Sam left for the Congo, I had begun to suspect that the expedition had financial problems when I was told that a specific purchase was not within the budget. Within two days of the team entering the Congo, I was forced to withdraw from the expedition when I was told that there “wasn’t enough funds for three months.” This was shocking and I was disappointed that I had placed my reputation on the line, only to have someone I trusted disappoint me with their poor financial planning.” ~ Joe Marrero, “So what happened to the Newmac Expedition?”

Marrero also cleared up the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. It seems he was running the Twitter account as well as the website. When he disassociated himself with the group, he began the process of transferring those things to Stephen McCullah, co-leader of the Newmac Expedition.

Marrero announces Expedition to find Mokele-mbembe

In his article, Marrero stated his intention to launch a separate expedition to search for the mokele-mbembe. He plans to work with a professional hunter named Cam Greig. Apparently, Greig has led dozens of expeditions to Cameroon and seven to the Congo.

As many of you know, we’ve been working on our own expedition here at Guerrilla Explorer. Planning such a trip is no easy task. With that said, we’d like to offer a piece of advice for Marrero and Greig. They may want to consider targeting a different cryptid. If the Newmac Expedition is indeed defunct and ends up forfeiting on its promises, it could prove difficult to gather support for another expedition to the Congo.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

At this point, the rumors of the Newmac Expedition’s extinction are still just that…rumors. Its current and future status remains unknown. But as we mentioned the other day, the team members might experience financial ramifications from this whole affair. Kickstarter funds come at a cost. Project leaders are expected to fulfill certain pre-determined packages based on the amount of the donation.

In the case of the Newmac Expedition, packages range from $5 (which promises daily updates and pictures as well as “a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet) to $10,000 (which promises a whole bunch of stuff including having “a chosen species” named after the pledgee).

Based on Marrero’s article, the Expedition is at the very least short on cash. If the rumors are true and they were forced to return to the U.S., they’ll need to fund another trip to the Congo and find a way to fulfill their pledged promises. Either that or they’ll have to give out refunds, which could be difficult if the money has already been spent on gear and other things. The third option is to forfeit on the promises. We’re not sure what would happen in that case.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation for further developments. But for the moment, it appears the mokele-mbembe, if it even exists, is safe from discovery.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

The Dinosaur Expedition goes…Extinct?

Several months ago, the Newmac Expedition raised $30,000 from private donors to fund a trip to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they hoped to investigate the legend of mokèlé-mbèmbé, the so-called last living dinosaur. Less than a week ago, the expedition hit a major snag. Now, it appears to have run into more troubles. Has the Newmac Expedition gone extinct?

The Hunt for the Last Living Dinosaur

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They described the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in the mokèlé-mbèmbé. The mokèlé-mbèmbé, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur.

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

The Newmac Expedition…goes Extinct?

Yesterday, we received an anonymous tip that the Newmac Expedition had returned from the Congo. Supposedly, the group was forced to curtail its 3-month trip. The exact reason remains unclear but we were told that Expedition member Stephen McCullah posted a message on his personal Facebook page about a lack of research permits. We’ve also heard that the Expedition suffered gear losses via theft.

This information has yet to be confirmed. But if true, it explains Marrero’s decision to withdraw from the Expedition. Adding fuel to the fire are the changes made to the Newmac Expedition’s social media platform. Its website has been abandoned. The last Facebook update came on June 21. The last Twitter update, announcing the departure of Joe Marrero, came on July 10. And the last update on Kickstarter (which we are unable to access) came on July 13.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Let’s assume for a moment the Newmac Expedition has gone defunct. What are the consequences? Well, the money raised from Kickstarter wasn’t free. People in various pledge categories (ranging from $5 to $10,000) were promised certain packages. For example, here’s the package for the $5 category:

“Everyone in this pledge category will receive daily updates and pictures of progress- Via text or email, so you will be one of the first to see the findings. Weeks ahead of the media. Furthermore we’ll send a you a genuine pygmy made string and bone bracelet to commemorate the launch of The Project.” ~ Documentary Expedition to Congo- KILLER REWARDS!!!

This package was initially scheduled for delivery in June. According to recent comments on the team’s Kickstarter page, at least some of the backers haven’t received it yet. However, from what we understand the delivery date was switched to October (coinciding with the Expedition’s original expected return date).

The $5 package is the simplest one. For example, people who pledged $50 were promised “an authentic piece of a new species of plant.” People in the $100 category were promised “a DVD collection of the entire trip and a handcarved Spear made by the Baka Pygmy people along with a picture of the person who carved it holding YOUR spear.” And the rewards only get more complicated from there.

If the project is indeed defunct, then this would appear to be a case of over-promising and under-delivery. And according to Kickstarter, unsuccessful projects are expected to be refunded.

“If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project after it has been successfully funded, you are expected to offer refunds to all your backers. To avoid problems, don’t over-promise when creating your project. If issues arise, communicate immediately, openly, and honestly with your backers.” ~ Kickstarter FAQ

All along, skeptics have claimed the Expedition was poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived. Unfortunately, that now appears to be the case. We’re still waiting for official word from the team. It’s always possible they will attempt to relaunch after they get everything straightened out. In fact, we have reason to believe this is their plan. But for the time being, it appears the Newmac Expedition has gone extinct.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Newmac Expedition

The Baltic Anomaly: The Fire and Ice Theory?

The strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. Recently, the Ocean X Team returned to the Anomaly in order a conduct a new investigation, spurring renewed rumors and speculations in the process. But what is it? Is it something artificial? Or is it a natural formation made from…fire and ice?

“Pillow lava rocks on the slope off Hawaii form when magma oozes from below.”
July 1988
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce & OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

The Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has gone on a second expedition, released a few photographs and some video, and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews conducted primarily with the Team’s UFO-centric Facebook community as well as websites devoted to UFOs. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

Outstanding Physical Mysteries?

Let’s get one thing straight…the Baltic Anomaly “evidence” available to the public is quite limited and of very poor quality. Most of the information is in the form of unsubstantiated testimony. Unfortunately, some of this testimony has changed over time (for example, the mysterious “egg shaped” hole is now referred to as a perfectly round hole). Other pieces of this testimony are highly speculative, such as reports of malfunctioning equipment and other odd phenomena. That being said, here are a few of the “physical mysteries” surrounding the Baltic Anomaly.

  • Strange Shapes: One end of the Circle has a rounded, circular shape. The top of the Circle contains numerous right angles and carved pathways which apparently resemble the shapes of “corridors,” “rooms,” and even a “staircase.
  • “The Hole: There is a hole on top of the Circle. In its initial statement, the Ocean X Team described it as “egg shaped.” More recently, Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, referred to it as “round.
  • The Fireplaces: The Team photographed several circular rock formations on top of the circle which resembled “small fireplaces.” The stones were covered with something that looked like soot. Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers, described them as being “like four or five pearl necklaces with stones, each a few decimeters in diameter.” For reference, a decimeter is equal to roughly four inches.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The Team collected two stones from the area. One of the stones was apparently indigenous to the region but normally found under the Earth’s crust. The other stone was common to the mid-Atlantic.
  • Odd Materials: The Circle’s exterior was initially described as resembling sandstone. Lately, it has been described as “granite.” When divers broke off a piece, they discovered the inside was black, like volcanic rock.
  • Volcanic Activity: No known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea. However, the Team spotted a 50-meter tall mountain that resembles a “black smoker” several miles from the Circle. The Ocean X Team also believes magma resides underneath the Circle and in the vicinity.

Fire & Ice

There are well over a dozen theories by now which attempt to explain the Baltic Anomaly. They range from the natural (pillow lava, rock formation) to the artificial (a shipwreck, an artifact of an ancient civilization, a forgotten Nazi sub trap, and even a sunken UFO).

We’ve gone on record stating our opinion that the Circle may have been formed by several extinguished “black smokers.” We’ve also pointed out how the last Ice Age could’ve formed the “small fireplaces.” However, we haven’t really taken the time to put these pieces together into one comprehensive theory. So, here it goes…we believe the Circle was formed by “fire and ice.”

We are currently in an ice age, known as the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation. It started 2.58 million years ago. During this period, ice sheets have advanced and retreated on a cyclical basis. To make a long story short, the area now encompassed by the Baltic Sea was heavily eroded during these cycles, eventually forming a deep basin.

While covered in ice, we believe a sort of subglacial submarine eruption took place in the area now encompassed by the Baltic Anomaly. This could’ve been accomplished via now-extinguished hydrothermal vents or via a normal submarine eruption.

Magma and/or dissolved minerals was expelled into the thick ice sheet. It was hot enough to melt out space underneath the ice. However, it wasn’t hot enough to melt a hole through it. Thus, a large subglacial mound formation known as pillow lava was created. The video below, from the movie “Pele Meets the Sea,” shows pillow lava flowing underwater off Hawaii’s coast. This particular lava erupted on land and flowed into the ocean. However, underwater pillow lava probably forms in a similar manner.

And that’s it. In other words, we think the Baltic Anomaly is most likely an ancient pillow lava formation, created by the interaction of fire and ice.

Back to the Outstanding Mysteries…

But how does the “fire and ice” theory hold up to some of the outstanding mysteries we listed above? Let’s take a look…

  • Strange Shapes: According to the Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, “the glassy surfaces of pillows are not smooth but have cracks, corrugations, and linear grooves, many of which intersect at right angles.” Also, lava pillows “are found in a wide variety of shapes including near-spherical bulbous pillows.”
  • The Hole: This could be the remains of an extinguished hydrothermal vent. Also, sometimes lava “pushes aside a portion of the outer pillow crust and drains out through the hole to form a spilled pool outside the broken pillow.”
  • The Fireplaces: The “fireplaces” might actually constitute moraines. In other words, as the ice sheets retreated from the pillow lava, small rocks slid down a cone of ice to form a circular shape on top of it.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The stone normally found under the Earth’s crust could’ve been driven to the surface by the submarine eruption. The other stone could’ve arrived in the area via any number of normal means.
  • Odd Materials: The chipped, granite-like surface of the Circle is consistent with what one would expect to find at a pillow lava formation. Also, the black interior could be explained by a heavy presence of sulfide. Incidentally, sulfide would also explain the substance “resembling soot” which covered the rocks dotting the exterior.
  • Volcanic Activity: The 50-meter tall mountain resembling a “black smoker” indicates the presence of volcanic activity in the region. Also, although no known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea, geothermal heat is actually fairly common. Regardless, if the “fire and ice” theory is correct, the volcano or black smoker would’ve existed thousands of years ago when ice lasted covered the Baltic Sea.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

So, there you have it. Unfortunately, the lack of concrete information makes it difficult to provide much in the way of extensive analysis. However, the “fire and ice” theory appears to explain most of the outstanding physical mysteries surrounding the Circle.

The Ocean X Team is currently on-site, investigating the Anomaly. They are expected to return in late July.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

 

The Dinosaur Expedition Disintegrates?

Several weeks ago, the Newmac Expedition traveled to the Republic of Congo. Among other things, they sought to investigate the legendary mokele-mbembe, believed by some to be the last living dinosaur. But now, the expedition appears to have hit a major snag. Is this the end of the Newmac Expedition?

Dinosaur Skeleton
Photographer: Harris & Ewing (1913-1917)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Hunt for Mokele-mbembe?

The Newmac Expedition used Kickstarter to raise $28,925 from 750 backers in order to categorize “plant and animal species in the vastly unexplored Republic of the Congo.” They describe the Congo Basin as “a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.”

Most of the publicity surrounding the Newmac Expedition has been centered on its interest in a strange creature known as mokele-mbembe. The mokele-mbembe, or “one who stops the flow of rivers,” is a mythological creature supposedly residing in the swamps of the Congo River Basin. Details vary but most descriptions refer to it as having a long neck, a long tail, and a relatively small head. Some cryptozoologists speculate it might be a sauropod…in other words, a dinosaur.

What’s New?

The Expedition launched on June 26. Three days later, it suffered a major blow when Joe Marrero “decided to completely withdraw from the Newmac Expedition.”

“I am disappointed on how the expedition was managed and found it necessary to severe my involvement in the expedition. I wish Stephen and Sam the best of luck on their adventure.” ~ Joe Marrero

The remaining members of the Expedition noted his departure over twitter.

“Joe Marrero has withdrawn from the expedition. We wish him the best on his future adventures.” ~ Newmac Expedition, July 10

As best as we can tell, the Newmac Expedition started out with five principals. According to their website, they are now down to three.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Obviously, we don’t know the full story behind this situation. But the loss of a principal is no small matter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the Newmac Expedition. This whole thing is starting to look exactly like what critics claimed it would be…a poorly-planned and perhaps ill-conceived operation. We’ll continue to follow this story as best we can but for now, the future of the Newmac Expedition appears to be in doubt.

 

The Baltic Anomaly: The Original Ocean X Team?

The ultra-strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. It was discovered by a group of treasure hunters calling themselves the Ocean X Team. But where did the Team come from? And how did they first achieve fame in the treasure hunting world?

German submarines in a harbor (1914 to 1915)
Front row (left to right): U-22, U-20 (sank the Lusitania), U-19 and U-21
Back row (left to right): U-14, U-10 and U-12
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has released a few photographs and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

In our view, the Anomaly has intriguing profit potential. The Team has a documentary deal with Titan television. They’ve gained valuable equipment and funds via sponsorships with Ocean Modules, SeaLabs, and Silvercrest Submarines (this equipment has also been used to search for other wrecks). In addition, they’ve indicated a desire to use a new submarine to take wealthy tourists to view the Baltic Anomaly close-up.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

The Champagne Wreck

In 1916, the Swedish schooner Jönköping sailed out of Gävle, on route to Finland. In her cargo holds, the Jönköping carried “4400 bottles of 1907 Heidesieck Champagne ‘Goût Americain’, 67 large barrels of Cognac and 17 regular barrels of wine.”

At the time, Europe was broiled in World War I. Thus, the Jönköping’s alcohol was meant for Russian officers. However, the schooner was stopped by SM U-22, a German submarine. Since the Jönköping also carried some railroad-related “war materials,” the submarine’s officers chose to sink it.

In 1994, Claes Bergvall and Peter Lindberg discovered information about the wreck in local court archives. Three years later, they discovered it under 210 feet of water using side-scan sonar. Apparently, the hull was in excellent shape. Claes and Peter formed a company named C-Star and proceeded to acquire the rights to the cargo.

C-Star divers started to salvage the champagne bottles. Remarkably, the corks had stayed in place and the icy conditions of the Baltic Sea had kept the alcohol well-preserved.

“French experts who tasted some of the champagne recovered earlier have rated it exceptional and ideally preserved by the cold, dark Baltic.” ~ John Acher, Yo-Ho-Ho, Sea Salvagers find Champagne, Cognac

At the same time, C-Star announced their ambitious places for the ship. They wanted to raise it to the surface, salvage the rest of the alcohol, and turn it into a floating museum of sorts. However, bad weather thwarted their efforts.

In 1998, disaster struck. A Finnish businessman named Peter Fryckman took out a ship, hired some divers, and began salvaging the bottles for himself. Although he had no salvage rights to the ship, Fryckman claimed some of the bottles rightfully belonged to his great-grandfather, and thus to him.

He was unable to prove his claim however, and on July 3, 1998, Fryckman’s team was forced to abandon the site. Claes and Peter proceeded to poach Fryckman’s divers in exchange for 25% of the haul. In turn, Fryckman began auctioning off his illegally-obtained bottles.

On July 24, C-Star successfully lifted the Jönköping off the bottom. The cargo was removed from the wreck. However, the ship was determined to be unsuitable for a museum ship. Thus, it was dumped back into the Baltic Sea.

Apparently, the barrels of cognac were unrecoverable. We’re not sure about the wine. However, a Christie’s auction in October 1998 hints that the 2,000 champagne bottles might’ve been worth around $8 million dollars at that time. For those of you who are interested, Peter Lindberg wrote a book about the project in 2003.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We don’t know whether or not Dennis Åsberg, the other co-founder of the Ocean X Team, was part of C-Star in 1997. His name is not listed in any of the articles we’ve read. Still, C-Star can easily be viewed as a sort of predecessor to the Ocean X Team.

When they first “saw” the Baltic Anomaly, Peter and Dennis were searching for a shipwreck similar to the Jönköping. According to various media reports, this wreck contained cases of an extremely rare brand of champagne. We suspect it was the Louis Roederer Crystal, referred to by the Ocean X Team as the Tzar’s champagne.

C-Star shares some similarities with the current Ocean X Team. First, they were big dreamers. Raising a ship off the bottom of the seafloor was fairly audacious. Wanting to create a floating museum out of it was even more audacious. It brings to mind the Ocean X Team’s massive publicity campaign and lucrative tourist-centered plans for the Baltic Anomaly.

Second, C-Star overcame large odds to achieve success. They fended off a rival treasure hunter and managed to recover a valuable cargo. And although we’ve been critical of the Ocean X Team, the fact remains that they’ve conducted an initial investigation, complete with some photos, of the Anomaly. Incidentally, Peter Lindberg revealed last night during a chat with the Team’s Facebook group that initial analysis of samples taken from around the site (but not from the Anomaly itself) have been completed. One rock is apparently common to the Baltic region but is normally found under the Earth’s crust (which might give some credence to our black smoker theory). Another rock is supposedly typical to the mid-Atlantic seafloor.

Will the Ocean X Team ever solve the mystery behind the Baltic Anomaly? In all honesty, we remain skeptical. However, the Team is planning another expedition for July 10. They hope to recover rock samples from the Anomaly as well as possibly investigate a second site (the so-called Window). Hopefully, we’ll know more at that point.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

The Baltic Anomaly: What is the Secret Wreck?

For over a year, the strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world. A recent expedition turned up more questions than answers. Now, word has leaked of a second, secret salvage project. Just what is going on here?

“Shipwreck”
Drawn by Harry Chase sometime between 1870 and 1889
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has released a few photographs and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics such as us have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts. True believers, along with the Ocean X Team, have retaliated by attacking the credibility of the skeptics.

Is the Ocean X Team working on a Second Project?

On June 1, the Ocean X Team set sail for the Baltic Anomaly. At the time, we were under the impression that the sole purpose of the expedition was to investigate the Anomaly.

Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, recently sat down for an interview with Linda Moulton Howe at Earthfiles. At one point, he discussed how the Team’s Blueview sonar equipment stopped functioning while located above the Anomaly. He then mentioned that the equipment worked a few days later while at “another undersea wreck project.”

Wait…hold on a second there. Another undersea wreck project?

The Ocean X Team spent somewhere between 10 to 14 days in two separate trips supposedly investigating the Baltic Anomaly. We always thought that seemed like a rather long time for a diving expedition. After all, they already knew its location. So, we’re curious…how long did the Team actually spend at the Anomaly? What is this other “wreck?” And how much time did they spend searching for it?

We should note that when the Team first discovered the Anomaly, they were searching for three shipwrecks sunk by German U-boats during World War I. These wrecks were believed to contain valuable caches of champagne, spirits, and cognac. At the very least, it would appear the publicity surrounding the Baltic Anomaly served a dual purpose, providing funds and new equipment via sponsorships for the Team to continue its search for these wrecks.

Other New Developments?

Here are some other thoughts about the Earthfiles interview.

  • Radiation: The Ocean X Team reported that radiation in the vicinity of the Anomaly was 20x normal levels. Not dangerous, but still quite curious.
  • Circular-Shaped: Lindberg continues to describe the Anomaly as a “circular-shaped object.” Many true believers even trumpet its shape as a “perfect circle” and use that as a way of claiming the Anomaly is of artificial origin. However, the original side-scan sonar image, as well as the drawing above, paint a different picture. Hopefully, the next expedition will bring in a new side-scan sonar image of the entire Circle. Speaking of which…
  • The Next Expedition: The Ocean X Team will begin another expedition to the Baltic Anomaly on July 20. They hope to produce a new 3D image of the Circle as well as investigate another feature at the site, the so-called “Window.” It seems possible they’ll also take time to work on this mysterious second project.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We continue to be wary of the Ocean X Team. They’ve provided very little evidence that can be analyzed and verified by outside parties. Their statements are remarkably sensational. At times, this whole exercise appears to be more of a giant marketing project than a scientific expedition, aimed directly at the legions of UFO enthusiasts.

For example, Dennis Åsberg, co-founder of the Team, called attention to military exercises in the region just prior to this most recent expedition.

“Right now there is a military exercise in the area where both Russians and Americans are involved. I can not help but wonder why it is happening right now.” ~ Dennis Åsberg, Translated from Aftonbladet, May 31, 2012

As we mentioned previously, those military exercises were real, but hardly unexpected. They’re called BALTOPS and take place every year in the Baltic Sea. To pass them off as anything else raises a red flag for us. Then, on June 10, Dennis posted an update on the Anomaly.

“Everything is top secret now … because of the risks … hope you all understand this is no game. But the truth will be reported shortly.” ~ Dennis Åsberg, Ocean X Team, June 10, 2012

Top secret? Risks? What risks? Unfortunately, Dennis has yet to clarify that remark. As we noted the other day, Dennis is a former actor. So, it’s not surprising to us that he appears to be over-sensationalizing the Baltic Anomaly.

In our view, the Baltic Anomaly is most valuable as an unsolved mystery. Indeed, after the Team first revealed the Anomaly consisted of rocks, we noticed a distinct drop in interest in the subject. Interest surged again, however, after the Team started hinting at an artificial origin by talking about equipment failures and 90-degree carvings.

Unanswered questions will help fuel interest in the Team’s documentary with Titan Television. They will also enable the Team to use its new submarine to take wealthy tourists to view the Baltic Anomaly close-up. And finally, the unanswered questions have allowed the Team to form valuable partnerships with Ocean Modules, SeaLabs, and Silvercrest Submarines, giving it access to state-of-the-art shipwreck-hunting equipment. As such, we expect the Ocean X Team to do everything in its power to keep the Baltic Anomaly exactly what it is today…an unsolved mystery.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly