In an unprecedented scientific revelation, oceanographers have unearthed a haunting vestige of World War II deeply submerged off the Los Angeles coast. According to the Los Angeles Times, caches of munitions, including boxes of explosives, smoke floats and depth charges, were discovered 3,000 feet below the pristine Pacific surface, revealing an unrecorded chapter of our military past and posing a potential threat to our marine ecosystems.
The interdisciplinary team of experts comprised of researchers from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography found themselves on the threshold of a startling discovery during their second, more comprehensive mapping survey effort. “We started to find the same objects by the dozens, if not hundreds, consistently…” shared an astounded Eric Terrill, one of the survey’s leaders. The find was so extensive, he added, “…it actually took a few days to really understand what we were seeing on the seabed.”
Equipped with advanced underwater technology, the researchers employed a deep-water autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and a HD-camera-fitted device to conduct their investigation. The operation garnered the support of the US Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and the Office of Naval Research.
The site, between the 1930s and 1970s, was a notorious dumping ground used by various industries, especially for pesticides like DDT. The researchers had initially embarked on this mission to primarily extend their maps of the seafloor using more sophisticated sonar imaging techniques. The unexpected discovery of wartime weaponry shifted their focus, transforming this endeavor into a groundbreaking scientific revelation.
An unprecedented expedition to map parts of Southern California’s deep sea has uncovered World War II military weaponry littering the seafloor in massive dumping sites off the coast of Los Angeles. https://t.co/MvXjPzt9NK
— abc27 News (@abc27News) January 8, 2024
According to the Navy, these abandoned munitions are likely remnants of World War II-era disposal practices in the Pacific Theatre. At the time, disposal at sea was considered the safest method of dealing with such dangerous material. Today’s standards, however, strictly prohibit such actions; the Department of Defense now provides clear guidance for the safe and environmentally responsible disposal of munitions.
Despite the shocking revelation, there’s a lot more to uncover. According to Terrill, their current observations barely scratch the deep sea’s surface, likening it to looking through a soda straw.
The researchers’ findings have now reached both naval authorities and policymakers who are reviewing their subsequent actions and strategies to manage health and environmental risks this discovery could pose.
In conclusion, in the age-old depths of the Pacific, science has uncovered a potent history lesson wrapped in layers of danger and intrigue. The WWII era munitions dump off the Los Angeles coast serves to remind us all of the long-lasting impact of our actions and the secrets that still lie beneath the ocean’s waves. Nonetheless, it also highlights the remarkable progress in oceanographic research and the vital role it plays in not only unveiling our militaristic past but safeguarding our environmental future.