A large monitoring station used to collect important scientific data in the observatory in Baltic Sea mysteriously disappears.
The underwater observatory, which had been at the bottom of the sea since December 2016, is managed by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Kiel Ocean Research and the Helmholtz Geesthacht Center (HZG). On August 21 at 8:15 p.m. local time, broadcasts from the 300,000-euro station suddenly stopped. The divers were sent to the site, only to discover, to their surprise, that the entire structure had disappeared, except for a shredded transmission cable, according to a GEOMAR statement.(observatory in Baltic Sea mysteriously disappears)
The observatory was in a restricted area off the north coast of Germany. Ships, including fishing vessels, are not allowed in the area, the BBC reported. That someone, or a group of individuals, has removed the observatory remains the most plausible explanation. Other factors, such as a massive storm, strong currents or even marine animals, were ruled out as potential causes due to the weight of the instrument. Who or what eliminated the scientific station, and why, is a complete mystery. German police were alerted to the incident and are now investigating, according to GEOMAR.
The Boknis Eck Observatory is, or at least was, located at the exit of Eckernförde Bay, which is north of Kiel, Germany, and south of the Danish border. It was 1.8 kilometers from the coast, planted at a depth of 22 meters, the BBC reported.
The station collected data on water temperature, nutrients, salinity, water flow rate and chlorophyll and methane concentrations. These data are used to assess the health of the ecosystem in and around the southwest of the Baltic Sea. By monitoring these changes, scientists can be alerted to possible problems and take the required countermeasures. Scientists have been collecting data in the bay since the 1950s. The observatory is also used in the COSYNA (Coastal Observation System for the North and Arctic Seas) network of the HZG.
” [At the beginning] we thought of a transmission error, ” said Hermann Bange, project coordinator for the Boknis Eck Observatory, in the GEOMAR statement. This caused a dive mission to the site, revealing the disappearance. ” The devices were gone, divers could no longer find them, ” he said. “ When the divers reached the bottom of the sea last week at the observatory location, they only found the ground wire torn off. I was completely crushed . ”
The lost observatory consists of two racks, one weighing 250 kilograms and the other 100 kilograms each. The racks include a frame that supports the power supply (along with a heavy cable that connects the station to the coast) and a frame to hold the sensors. Both racks were “removed with great force from their position,” according to the GEOMAR statement.
Bange described the data collected by the observatory as “frankly invaluable.” GEOMAR and HZA conducted their own search for the lost station, but without luck. Scientists are now asking for help from the public, asking anyone to know something about the incident that arises.
The disappearance is reminiscent of sunken naval ships that are also disappearing from the ocean floor. In those cases, it is suspected that the looters tore the boats to discard them. Something similar may be happening here, although it is not clear what value this monitoring station, equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, could have for looters.
Or, it could be the result of an infamous military operation carried out by an unknown state actor, but that is pure speculation. Hopefully, more details will emerge about this strange story in the coming days and weeks.