As the climate continues to change, the Arctic's permafrost continues to melt, and the Circle seems to reveal more secrets every year. Some of these discoveries are fascinating keys to our past that were either lost in time or are newly discovered strange anomalies that even the world’s most renowned scientists have trouble explaining.
As most humans obsess about discovering what is in space, there is still a huge wellspring of untapped potential discoveries waiting to be found in the Arctic Circle. As the melting permafrost gives way to fascinating the finds other discoveries can be equally haunting, mysterious, and even creepy.
The unforgiving Arctic Circle can be terrifying because there is so little about that area that we understand. Scientists and conspiracy theorists consistently disagree and ridicule each other with their opposing opinions on many of the unsolved Arctic mysteries. Whether it's alien in origin or an inexplicable act of nature, the region seems to raise more questions than answers for many experts and theorists alike.
So until we get concrete answers for everything that has been discovered or rediscovered in Arctic Circle much of what seen and unseen will remain a mystery. Here are 15 of the creepiest, scariest and most fascinating finds in the Arctic.
15 Giant Sea Spiders
Sea spiders, which are also known as Pantopoda or pycnogonids, are known to dwell in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, but they are at the largest in the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans. They are an example of Polar gigantism, which has baffled scientists for years. No one is sure why they and so many other creatures in that area of the sea are so large. One theory suggests that the lack of oxygen in very cold waters may be the cause.
The Giant Sea Spiders can grow up the 35 inches in the coldest parts of the sea. However, despite their size and appearance, they are completely harmless and technically belong to a group of marine anthropods rather than arachnids.
14 The Long-Nosed Chimaera Fish
The Rhinochimaeridae, better known as the Long-Nosed Chimaera fish, is one of the rarest fish in the world, and it was caught only for the second time in the freezing arctic waters of the Davis Strait in Northern Canada by fishermen. It’s very rarely caught because the fish dwells at depths of 660 to 6,500 feet, which are not often visited or seen by human beings.
Nicknamed the Pinocchio fish because of its long nose, it bears similarities to the Goblin Shark because of its nose and mouth. It is part of a family of cartilaginous fish and the first dorsal fin includes a venomous spine, which protects it from predators.
13 Thawing Ice Could Lead To New Virus Epidemics
Climate change is causing the ice in the Arctic Circle to melt. The Arctic sea ice extent is shrinking every summer. As a result, the thawing permafrost is releasing long-dormant microbes because of unusually high temperatures.
In August 2016, an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia took the life of a 12-year-old boy and caused a further 72 people to get sick. The reason for the outbreak was the thawed corpses of long-dead reindeer infected with the disease had got into the groundwater, which the people drink.
In the Norwegian Arctic, the bodies of six young men who passed away in 1918 of Spanish influenza still contained a perfectly preserved virus. There’s also a worry that the frozen graves of former smallpox victims will thaw release the deadly virus once again.
12 12,000-Year-Old Puppies
In 2011, researchers in the northeast Russian Arctic region of Yakutia were looking for Mammoth tusks and discovered the perfectly preserved remains of an Ice Age puppy. Five years later, head of exhibitions at the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University Sergei Fyodorov flew out to the puppy’s location and found not one but two preserved Ice Age pups.
The two preserved animals could be the key to finding out when and where dogs split from wolves and became the first domesticated animals. Studies suggest that the dogs passed away at approximately three months old and it's possible they got caught up in an avalanche. Scientists will be using the puppies' remains to study canine lineage and whether or not the dogs were already domesticated.
11 Secret Nazi Base In The Arctic
On October 2016, Russian scientists discovered a secret Nazi military base in the Arctic. The site, codenamed “Schatzbraber” or “Treasure Hunter,” was located on the Alexandra Land and was built a year after Adolf Hitler invaded Russia in 1942.
Apparently, the site was abandoned in 1944 when German scientists were poisoned by polar bear meat. When it was rediscovered 72 years later, more than 500 items were found, including rusted bullets, documents, and bunkers preserved by the freezing weather conditions.
Many have speculated that the base was used in the hunt for ancient relics of power – something Hitler had a great fascination with. Alternatively, some experts believe that it provided the Germans with a meteorological advantage producing reports that were essential for the planning and movement of troops, ships, and submarines. The Russians are now using the area to build a military base of their own.
10 The Ancient Giant Virus
In 2014, researchers discovered a virus named the Pithovirus that remained untouched for over 30,000 years, and it has come to be known as a “giant virus.” It is called a giant virus because it is larger than normal specimens and the largest of its kind, including the Pandoravirus.
They are also more genetically complex than regular viruses; the Pithovirus contains 500 genes, and the Pandoravirus contains up 2,500. The HIV virus, for example, only contains around 12 genes. What’s even scarier is that even after lying dormant for 30,000 years, the giant virus is still active and capable of infecting host cells.
Many scientists believe that infection from the virus is highly unlikely, but still possible under the right conditions, such as finding the remains of a human that died of the virus. While it is unlikely, it’s no less terrifying to know that there could be some ancient virus waiting to be released again when the ice melts.
9 100-Year-Old Photographs Discovered In The Antarctic
In 2013, conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust that were working to restore an exploration hut discovered a box of 22 100-year-old unprocessed negatives taken by the photographer of famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party frozen in a block of ice.
The exploration party set out across Antarctica to set up supply depots for Shackleton. However, three of the party (including the photographer) perished after their ship blew out to sea during a blizzard, leaving them stranded on Ross Island.
A Wellington company photographer took on the task of restoring the incredible images, and although you can see they were damaged by the extreme weather conditions, the photographs are an incredible yet haunting echo of the fateful expedition.
8 151 Mile Gravitational Anomaly Discovered In The Antarctic
In December 2016, scientists discovered a massive object hidden beneath the Antarctic ice. The object, which was found in an area called Wilkes Land, is 151 miles across and has a depth of at least 2,700 feet. It’s known as the Wilkes Land gravity anomaly, and was first discovered in a 300-mile-wide crater by NASA satellites in 2006.
Many scientists and researchers theorize that the massive anomaly is what remains of a massive asteroid that’s likely to be twice the size of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. They also believe that it is the asteroid that caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event that destroyed 96% of the Earth’s sea creatures and around 70% of living land organisms.
Conspiracy theorists have their own opinions, with many believing that it could be a secret underground UFO base, the hiding place for the fallen Angels from The Book of Enoch, and even a portal to Hollow Earth.
7 Mysterious Arctic Civilization
In 2015, scientists unearthed a mysterious medieval civilization 18 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Despite its location at the Siberian Arctic, archaeologists at the site discovered that it has links to Persia.
The remains were wrapped in birch bark, furs (possibly wolverine or bear) and copper, which, when combined with the permafrost, produced an accident, otherwise known as a natural mummification. 34 shallow graves were at the medieval site and 11 bodies were found, and it was originally thought that the site contained males and children.
However, during August 2017, the researchers discovered that one of the bodies belonged to a woman, who they have nicknamed the Polar Princess. They believe that she may have been a person of important status, as she was the only adult female at the site. Research still continues to unravel more about this ancient civilization.
6 The Mystery Of The HMS Terror And HMS Erebus
The HMS Terror and HMS Erebus were bombing vessels that were modified for polar exploration to leave for what became known as Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition. The two ships under the guidance of Captain Franklin set out to traverse the unexplored Northwest Passage, but both became icebound in the Canadian Arctic and 129 men, including Franklin himself, lost their lives.
Expeditions in 1981 and 1982 led a team of researchers to King William Island and Beechey Island. They found remains of some of the men buried there in a natural mummified state. They determined the cause of death as lead poisoning from tinned foods, tuberculosis, and exposure to the harsh weather conditions. As a result of the poisoning, there was evidence that the crew suffered from severe mental problems and there were cuts on the bodies that even suggested that can*ibalism played a part.
On 12 September 2014, the wreckage of the Erebus was discovered by the Victoria Strait Expedition and two years later on 12 September 2016, the HMS Terror was found by the Arctic Research Foundation in near perfect condition.
5 Unidentified Sounds Coming From The Arctic Sea Floor
In 2016, people near Igloolik, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic have reported strange pinging sounds coming from the sea floor that were frightening away wildlife. An investigation crew was sent by the Canadian armed services to determine if it was a submarine, but they only found pods of whales and six walruses. After determining that the sounds weren’t an immediate threat, the military withdrew their search.
The mysterious sounds remain unsolved, but conspiracy theorists believe that the sounds could be several things, like the lost City of Atlantis, an underwater UFO base, or undiscovered giant underwater creatures communicating with each other, similarly to whales and dolphins.
4 The "Blood" Falls
Discovered in 1911 by the Australian geologist Griffith Taylor, the Blood Falls is a fifty-foot tall blood-red waterfall falling from Taylor Glacier (named after the geologist) onto the ice-covered West Lake Bonney. The blood-colored waterfall is the result of hypersaline waters that are rich in iron.
Examinations into the Blood Falls water revealed at 17 different kinds of microbes. Microbial life in the extreme conditions of the Blood Falls could mean that not only could life forms exist in other parts of the earth, but on other planets with similar extreme conditions such as Mars, and Europa, the moon of Jupiter.
Research into how the dark, anaerobic conditions of Blood Falls can sustain life is ongoing and not yet fully understood by scientists, but they believe that the waterfall could be the key to many unanswered scientific questions.
3 New Species Of Bee
The glacier bumblebee, also known as Bombus glacialis, was first discovered in 1902 on the island of Novaya Zemlya, and scientists believe that it is the only creature to have survived the Ice Age. In addition, conclusive DNA testing in 2017 revealed that the bee is now established as a separate species from the modern day bumblebee.
The existence of the insect also suggests that Novaya Zemlya was either partially or wholly free of the glacial ice that covers the land now. Scientists also believe that the species of bee may have existed on other arctic islands too, although no further evidence has been found to support this.
It’s incredible to think that there could be other species waiting to be discovered in the permafrost, as the ice continues to thaw; it will only be a matter of time before we find out.
2 Arctic Sinkholes
Mysterious craters have been appearing all over Siberia. One of the largest is the Batagaika crater, which appeared in the 1960s and it is widening every year by around 15 meters. In addition, new craters have been appearing in the eastern coast of Yamal Peninsula. On the morning of June 28, 2017, reindeer herders spotted flames and columns of smoke in the area of Seyakh, resulting in 10 known craters in that area alone.
The explosion was caused by a build-up of methane gas spurred on by climate changes, causing the permafrost to melt, releasing gas hydrates preserved in the ground, thus causing the sinkholes to increase in number.
Of course, conspiracy theorists have come up with their own reasons for the holes. The two most common being that they believe the holes once housed dormant UFOs, or that they are gateways to the underworld.
1 Rediscovery Of Ghost Ship The HMS Thames
On August 2016, an abandoned British steamship known as The Thames, which sank in 1877, was discovered near the village Goroshikha, south of the Arctic Circle. The ship was found by two researchers from the Russian Geographical Society along with the Northeast Passage. The route was an obsession for many explorers during the 1800s, but it wasn’t successfully navigated until the early 1900s.
The ship was built with the intention of surveying the Gulf of Ob and the Yenisei River and creating a trade route with Russia. The ship was abandoned after the crew spent the winter on the Yenisei, and it was frozen to the bottom, the parts were sold, and the ship's Captain Joseph Wiggins and his crew returned to Britain. There’s something that’s both eerie and sad about the ship being left to drift away and decompose in the ice for over 140 years.