The Wreck in Witch's Hole: the sole casualty of Britain's Bermuda Triangle
September 10, 2012 7:13 PM   Subscribe

To a fisherman, all areas of the sea have names, just as a farmer will name his fields or streets have formal and informal names. For instance, there is the Witch's Ground, an area where the fishing is good, but the bottom is very rough and gear can easily be damaged or lost. Or if you're really unlucky, an undersea methane burst might make water less dense, and the sea could swallow your whole trawler.

Witch's Hole, a large pockmark in Witch Ground, in the North Sea to the north-east of Scotland, has been surveyed a few times in decades past. It was thought that the spike in the middle of the pockmark was a gas plume, possibly methane. A remotely operated vehicle was sent down to record video of what was in the pockmark (Google books preview), capturing images of a wrecked ship. Robert Prescott and Mark Lawrence of the Scottish Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of St. Andrews identified the wreck as an early 20th century steel-built steam trawler, which raises the prospect that methane gas emissions in our shallow seas can have catastrophic effects upon ships. The Savage Planet episode "Britain's Bermuda Triangle" isn't summarized or available online, so whatever findings the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies revealed about the wreck are unclear. Alan Judd, a marine geologist from the University of Sunderland, was also involved in the survey and review of wreck. While he isn't certain a methane bubble was responsible for the wreck, he stated "the boat didn't go in either end first, it went down flat.... For a boat to have randomly landed within Witch's Hole would be an amazing coincidence. Although it is 100 metres across, it represents a tiny target in the whole of Witch Ground."
posted by filthy light thief (18 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This post was triggered by seeing "Witch Ground" on a chart of the North Sea, related to the recent finding of the world's oldest message in a bottle.

Second tangent: there are a number of other places that have claimed the title of "Britian's Bermuda Triangle," including Dark Peak, where over 50 aircraft have wrecked, particularly from World War II.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not just the oceans. I worked on a Lake Erie natural gas drilling barge when I was 20 and remember being warned that we were in an area with a surface gas hazard. I remember asking, "So basically, we'd just be falling through foam?"
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:35 PM on September 10, 2012

To a fisherman, all areas of the sea have names

Oh, I know. There is a stretch to the west of Great Britain and Ireland, known as The Western Approaches. That is far more evocative than a prosaic label should be.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:38 PM on September 10, 2012

posted by indubitable at 8:14 PM on September 10, 2012

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
posted by Mezentian at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Our geology class toured the local sewage plant for some reason. One part of the plant was huge tanks full of aerated waste water, which IIRC the purpose of which is to cause the solids to sink to the bottom. It was pointed out by the tour guide that it didn't matter how well you could swim, if you fell in you would lack sufficient buoyancy and sink straight to the bottom. I stepped back from the rail. I'm not afraid of death itself, I'm just afraid of some ways of dying.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:24 PM on September 10, 2012 [7 favorites]

Tricky oceans. Thanks for coming back to post the message in a bottle. That's great.

. . . just as a farmer will name his fields . . .

Back in the fifties, an awkward piece of ground, not connected to any of the main farm and too small and remote to really bother planting, was affectionately called 'The Ponderosa' for the huge ranch on the popular television show Bonanza.
posted by Anitanola at 8:45 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight.
posted by w0mbat at 8:49 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm just afraid of some ways of dying

yes, inhaling buckets of shit water would fall under that category for me.
posted by twist my arm at 9:08 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, this reminds me of the hypnotic Shipping Forecast – where you can hear the names of the sea (previously read by the mellifluous Peter Jefferson until he fucked up the pipsSailing By.
posted by unliteral at 9:34 PM on September 10, 2012

Hmmm, huge methane releases in the Arctic ocean could be interesting...
posted by BlueHorse at 11:13 PM on September 10, 2012

I was recently introduced to the methane burst concept in Brian Wood's Oceanic dystopian comic series The Massive. The series describes a litany of ecological disasters, including an American battleship group sinking from an underwater methane release.
posted by JDC8 at 11:21 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is one of the theories rolled out about The Bermuda Triangle from time to time (SLYT) (BBC)
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:35 AM on September 11, 2012

Probably marked on a map by a *
posted by hal9k at 9:58 AM on September 11, 2012

I call dibs on Hoosie on the Dyke for a band name.
posted by chavenet at 10:17 AM on September 11, 2012

Silverpit Crater
posted by Artw at 5:42 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

. . . just as a farmer will name his fields . . .

Dead center in the middle of Boston harbor is a spot known as "lower middle", if you don't know just where it would look like deep water all around, no reef with breaking waves, just shallow in one spot. I've know a couple different folks that've spent a long afternoon waiting for the tide to come in.

Life rafts on many large ships are essentially small submarines, enclosed with some air supply. Possibly if a big ship goes down sometime in a methane burst there will be a survivor and the mystery will be resolved. But the missing ships still may be due to the Kracken.
posted by sammyo at 6:45 PM on September 11, 2012

posted by rdc at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2012

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