NOAA Fisheries camera makes a strange find in the Gulf of Maine

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A NOAA Fisheries camera sent to the seafloor in the Gulf of Maine landed on this 3-foot wide propeller, 100 miles from shore.

A NOAA Fisheries camera sent to the seafloor in the Gulf of Maine landed on this 3-foot wide propeller, 100 miles from shore.

NOAA Fisheries photo

Scientists often find odds on the seafloor, but NOAA researchers were baffled when a camera dropped off Maine landed on the top of a large propeller 100 miles from shore.

No shipwreck, mind you. Just the propeller “lying among the rocks, sea stars, and sea anemones.”

The mystifying discovery was made in the Gulf of Maine, as the fishing vessel Mary Elizabeth was participating in a NOAA Fisheries seafloor survey.

“What are the chances that we dropped the camera right on top of this thing,” Captain Phil Lynch reported in a NOAA science blog.

“I don’t even know of a single person who has lost their propeller at sea, let alone to have at that distance. It’s just incredible to have that $5,000 piece of metal in the middle of the ocean showing up on our camera.”

The intact propeller was 3 feet across, which means the vessel was at least 50 to 60 feet long, he said. That’s the same length as the Mary Elizabeth, Lynch noted.

It was found “near the maritime boundary with Canada,” and had been on the seafloor long enough to sport a layer of marine growth, the video showed. No hint of damage could be seen, adding to the mystery.

“It makes you wonder about the poor souls who lost it — so far away from land — and how long they waited for rescue,” wrote NOAA Fisheries blogger Giovanni Gianesin. “Not too many boats make it this far east.”

NOAA Fisheries sent the camera down as part of the Bottom Longline Survey to collect data on fish that “prefer rocky habit” on the seafloor.

this story was originally published January 3, 2023 7:30 AM.

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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