Close-up of mysterious holes found on the seabed
Facebook | NOAA Ocean Exploration

Scientists Seek Public's Help With Mysterious Holes In Sea Floor

There's no shortage of mysteries in the world — and humans, being the curious type, will stop at nothing to try and solve them.

The latest mystery lies in the most mysterious realm on the planet: the ocean floor. Experts are so baffled by it that, instead of coming up with a theory, they're essentially shrugging and asking the general public what might be going on.

The mystery lies along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Bathymetric map of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Wikimedia Commons | NOAA

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is, unsurprisingly, a ridge in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. It's a largely unexplored region, full of underwater mountains, canyons and depths that can reach more than 25,000 feet, or 4.7 miles.

Researchers were investigating the region when they found something unusual.

Close-up of mysterious holes found on the seabed
Facebook | NOAA Ocean Exploration

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, found a mysterious series of "perfectly aligned" holes in the bottom of the ocean, about 1.6 miles beneath the surface.

What they are is anyone's guess.

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Facebook | NOAA Ocean Exploration

The holes don't seem random in nature. In fact, they're in a nearly perfectly straight line and appear at regular intervals. Notably, they're surrounded by small mounds of oceanic sediment.

NOAA has no idea what they might be.

This isn't the first time something like this has been spotted.

Mysterious holes seen in ocean floor
NOAA | NOAA Ocean Exploration

In a Facebook post, NOAA researchers note that the holes have been spotted before, "but their origin remains a mystery."

"While they look almost human made, the little piles of sediment around the holes make them seem like they were excavated by...something."

It's aliens, right?

Ancient Aliens guy gif
Giphy |

Well, more realistically, it could be some kind of organism that's making these holes. The only problem? No one's ever seen these holes being made, so no one knows what, if any, organism might be digging them.

NOAA is appealing to the public for help.

Friends gif - Joey shrugging
Giphy |

Have you ever wanted to offer your uninformed opinion to a team of experts? Now's your chance, because NOAA is taking the bizarre step of asking the general public what they think of these weird holes.

Commenters chimed in with some suggestions.

Facebook comments on a post about mysterious holes in the ocean floor
Facebook | NOAA Ocean Exploration

If you spend much time on Facebook, you won't be shocked to find that many of the comments on NOAA's post ranged from silly to irrelevant to unhelpful. I guess that's what happens when a government agency opens the floor to the general public.

There were a few intriguing ideas.

Facebook comments on a post about mysterious holes in the ocean floor
Facebook | NOAA Ocean Exploration

This comment comes through with a detailed hypothesis that riffs off of the most likely explanation for the holes: some unknown oceanic creature making them.

Most experts estimate that there are somewhere between a few hundred thousand to more than ten million undiscovered species on the planet, and many of them are in the oceans, so it might take awhile to solve this one.

Got any guesses?

Close-up of ocean surface
Unsplash | Matt Hardy

We'd love to hear your thoughts on what these strange holes might be, so feel free to share. If you'd prefer to go right to the source, though, check out NOAA's post on Facebook and chime in there.