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Mysterious Seafloor Holes Stump Ocean Scientists

Sea monster? Aliens? Humans? Give it your best guess.

Sandy ocean bottom with regular perforation-like holes in a straight line.
NOAA's ocean explorers spotted these regular, perforation-like holes in the seafloor.
NOAA

Talk about the mysteries of the deep. The crew of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Okeanos Explorer vessel caught sight of some weird hole formations on the Atlantic seafloor over the weekend. What caused them? Even NOAA's scientists aren't sure.

Okeanos Explorer is investigating the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a largely unexplored area of seafloor that's home to a massive underwater mountain range. The team is mapping the ocean bottom and studying coral and sponge communities. NOAA often livestreams the ship's remote-operated vehicle dives.  

"On Saturday's Okeanos dive, we saw several sublinear sets of holes in the seafloor. The origin of the holes has scientists stumped," the NOAA ocean team tweeted on Monday. "The holes look human made, but the little piles of sediment around them suggest they were excavated by...something." NOAA asked for Twitter users to chime in with their own ideas to explain the holes.

NOAA said similar holes had been reported in the region before. Twitter users naturally had some thoughts on the matter, suggesting the perforation-like holes could be from fishing gear, a hidden crack in the seafloor or a piece of buried pipe. On the animal-related front, some suggested a burrowing or swimming critter might have left the small marks. 

Here's a closer look at some of the indentations, which seem to be almost rectangular.

Here's a closer look at those mysterious seafloor holes.

NOAA

There were some more fanciful responses, like "a really big graham cracker" and "ants." One person joked it might be aliens. 

The intrigue is reminiscent of when a different exploration vessel spotted a "yellow brick road" formation on the seafloor of the Pacific earlier this year. That one had a good explanation connected to volcanic action. 

The Atlantic holes will remain an enigma for now, but maybe it's time for an underwater X-Files division. A deep-sea Scully should be able to sort this out.