For centuries, the coolest underwater discoveries have captivated both scuba divers and surface dwellers alike.

Firstly, it could be the mystery surrounding these once-in-a-lifetime finds that makes them so popular and interesting. Secondly, questions about these unique items likely come up, like how long have they been submerged? How did they get there? Who lost them? 

Moreover, knowing how easily these amazing discoveries could have gone overlooked makes them truly intriguing. 

Whatever the reason, many of the most intriguing underwater finds have been made by scuba divers. With eyes trained to look for distinct shapes and patterns, it’s no wonder that divers often can spot cool finds and treasures that have been long-forgotten in the sea. Now, here are some of our favorites.

A Crusader’s Sword

Imagine finding a 900-year-old sword while enjoying a casual dive. 

That’s exactly what happened to Shlomi Katzin in Oct. 2021. He lives in the city of Atlit, Israel. While scuba diving off the coast, Katzin discovered several ancient artifacts in the seabed. The most interesting was a very old knight’s sword. First off, it was 3-feet long. Moreover, it was perfectly preserved and covered in marine organisms.

A scuba diver found a 900-year-old Crusader’s sword in almost perfect condition. Associated Press

Archeologists explained that sands in the area recently shifted, which is a common occurrence. This time, however, they uncovered the amazing find and other artifacts from the 11th and 13th centuries.

“The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight,” Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit Inspector Nir Distelfeld told the Jerusalem Post. “It was found encrusted with marine organisms but is apparently made of iron. It is exciting to encounter such a personal object, taking you 900 years back in time to a different era, with knights, armor and swords.”

A Lost City

The legend of Atlantis has motivated many a diver and archeologist to search for lost cities underwater. While none have found the legendary civilization, they have discovered other cities that have been lost to the seas and time.

In 1984, deep-sea divers looking for shipwrecks discovered the ancient city of Atlit Yam. This prehistoric fishing village ‘drowned’ 9,000 years ago, likely because of a tsunami or climate change. It remains one of the best-preserved submerged settlements in the world. 

According to The Times of Israel, excavations and surveys conducted between 1985-2000 revealed even more. Sea-level rise forced the inhabitants of this Neolithic village to abandon their homes several times for higher ground. Therefore, studying their technology and artifacts reveals how they coped with a changing climate. Additionally, within Atlit Yan, divers found the earliest-known constructed fresh-water wells with stone walls still intact. 

Human remains buried at Atlit Yam also helped archaeologists uncover the earliest known cases of human tuberculosis (TB), in the bones of a mother and baby. This discovery showed scientists that the disease is 3,000 years older than previously speculated.

Shipwrecks and Treasures — 2 Discoveries in 1

We credit salvage divers and treasure hunters for many of the amazing finds beneath the surface. One of the most famous is the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. Sinking in 1622 in a hurricane, the famous ship was laden with gold, silver and other precious cargo. 

That’s what legendary treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his team of divers went out in search of. Looking for 16 years, they finally found the Atocha in 1985. Since then, his divers have retrieved more than $400 million worth of treasure from the ocean floor. 

A gold coin recovered from the wreck of the Atocha sitting on a desk.
A rare gold coin recovered from the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha off Key West, FL. Mel Fisher’s Treasures

Bill and Julie Moore met as divers on Fisher’s ‘golden crew’ that discovered the Atocha. Then, in July 2021, the Moores’ son, Zach found an extremely rare coin on the exact same wreck. Zach is currently a diver and engineer at Mel Fisher’s Treasures. The coin was sitting in just about 30 feet of seawater. It glimmered and caught his eye. 

The coin is worth at least $98,000 and is the first gold coin found on the wreck in 20 years. 

“There’s nothing like finding treasure, first of all, but there’s nothing like finding gold,” Moore told the Miami Herald. “Gold shines forever. It looks and feels exactly the same as the day it went down 400 years ago.”

He added, “Scuba diving for gold — it runs in the blood. I’ve just got to get back out there so I can find more.”

A Mammoth Discovery ‒ Literally!

In May 2021, two scuba divers made a gigantic discovery of prehistoric proportions. In Florida’s Peace River, embedded in the sand, they found a four-foot, 50-pound mammoth leg bone. The once-in-a-lifetime discovery could date back as far as the Ice Age. 

Weird underwater discovery of a mammoth fossil

Found by Florida scuba divers Derek Demeter and Henry Sadler, the bone was well mineralized and almost completely undamaged. As it turns out, it came from a Columbian mammoth. This type of mammoth was the largest of its kind. Paleontologists estimate that the animals stood 14-feet tall and weighed “about five cars stacked on top of each other,” NDTV reported. Moreover, their tusks reached wider than two bicycles laid end-to-end, the report continued.

Mammoths, the ancestors of modern-day elephants, went extinct about 11,000 years ago. 

Incredibly, the pair found something even rarer the next day: a tooth from a saber-tooth tiger. 

A Childhood Throwback

Any children of the ’90s grow up watching Nickelodeon? If so, you might recognize the next fun discovery: two of our favorite marine cartoon characters.

When NOAA scientist Christopher Mah saw the live feed from an underwater submersible, the image on screen immediately triggered a memory in him, KSAT reported.

A yellow sponge and a pink starfish casually hanging out with each other were the ‘real life’ Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star. 

Mah tweeted, “I normally avoid these references… but WOW. REAL LIFE Spongebob and Patrick!”

Scientists found the doppelgangers for Spongebob and Patrick right next to each other.

Unfortunately for this Spongebob, deep-sea stars are often predatory of sponges, and this Patrick was likely on its way over to enjoy a meal.

Make Your Own Discoveries

The easiest way to make your own unique discoveries underwater is to become a scuba diver and #LiveUnfiltered. Click on the button below to get started on your scuba diving certification now.

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