Who Forted? Magazine

Reader Mail: What the Heck are These Weird Tracks on the Bottom of the Ocean?

Weird tracks on the bottom of the ocean

When it comes to mysteries, there’s no better place for hiding them than the bottom of the ocean. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as much as 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored.

And yet some people don’t believe in sea monsters.

Well, thanks to the advent of the internet, we can do some of that exploring from the comfort of our computer chairs, and you never know what sorts of strange stuff will turn up. Our pal Samuel Burgan (AKA IceBurg) was doing just that, and found a bunch of bizarre markings on the ocean floor, so he sent a few snapshots our way.

Sam writes:

Hey guys, Iceburg here. I don’t know if this is your kind of thing or not but here it goes:

I was playing around with Google Earth a while back and noticed something strange on the ocean floor.

Starting off the East coast off South Carolina, just past the continental shelf, at about 33° 0’10.32″N  75° 9’26.39″W, there are strange tank-like tread marks heading East to West. I initially thought it was just a photo stitching artifact until I followed it all the way to  32°16’38.84″N  55°11’48.71″W, where the tracks stop, make an abrupt turn, then double back to continue on their course.

There are places where the trail crosses other trails. They appear to go all the way to the mid Atlantic ridge, at least that’s where I finally lost them.

Thought they might be satellite sweeps, but they stop and turn around. Wild stuff.

I’ll try to attach some pics. Check it out for yourself.

the weird undersea tracks turn around and cross themselves

The weird markings go on for miles and look almost as if someone has been driving a huge tank on the seafloor, and when I say huge, I mean HUGE. In fact, judging from the size of the tracks, the giant sea-tank would have to have treads around several city blocks wide.

What could be making these strange formations? An undiscovered species of gargantuan underwater eels? Alien spacecraft safely occupying the depths of our oceans? Secret military machinery? It’s hard to not let your mind wander when considering the more fantastic possibilities.

Regardless, I managed to stop daydreaming long enough to do a bit of googling and I might have found at least one possible explanation for the strange drag marks: they might be ship tracks.

According to Google themselves, ship tracks are the leftover traces of an oceanic depth measuring process called “echosounding”. Google previously wrote about the process when many of their users thought they might have stumbled onto remnants of Atlantis on Google Earth several years back.

From their blog:

Picture 6You see, it’s actually quite hard to measure the depth of the ocean. Sunlight, lasers, and other electromagnetic radiation can travel less than 100 feet below the surface, yet the typical depth in the ocean is more than two and a half miles. Sound waves are more effective. By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process — known as echosounding — only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the “ship tracks.” In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas — likely an error — making the tracks stand out more.

While there is a decent chance that this might be what Sam stumbled onto, the only thing that keeps bothering me about the echosounding theory is the second image showing the the tracks turning in on themselves and shifting around all willy-nilly like. One would imagine that boats generally travel in straight lines.

Any ship captains, oceanographers, or underwater alien spacecraft experts want to weight in on IceBurg’s discovery?

Have your own weird discovery you want to share? I want to hear it! Find me on Facebook, on twitter @WhoForted, or leave a comment below!

Greg Newkirk

Greg Newkirk

Senior Editor at Who Forted
Documentary film-maker, professional monster chaser, and mystery monger, Greg is the senior editor for Who Forted? 'Zine. When he's not occupied by writing about the wide world of the weird, he's busy directing and editing documentary films like The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching or writing about offbeat travel for Roadtrippers. He's currently in production on his new project: an original documentary web series titled Planet Weird. He currently lives in Cincinnati.
Greg Newkirk
Greg Newkirk


  1. Chew

    05/18/2013 at 7:37 AM

    If they were tank tread tracks they would be uniform in size, shape and width and they wouldn’t abruptly start and stop at the base of the seamounts. If you follow the tracks all the way to the west the tracks narrow to a point.

  2. Adam

    05/18/2013 at 12:42 PM

    I was watching a special about the discovery of a sunken vessel and they mentioned these. It’s from deep fishing nets that drag the bottom of the ocean. Several sunken ship sites have been destroyed by them.

    • C.

      05/19/2013 at 9:57 AM

      I think that about solves it. trawlers still leave out of the Carolinas.

      • Chew

        05/19/2013 at 7:43 PM

        They aren’t trawler net marks. Trawler nets aren’t 5 miles ride, trawlers rarely bottom trawl in waters deeper than 100 fathoms, and they don’t drag their nets continuously for a thousand miles.

  3. SylverWyrd

    05/18/2013 at 1:11 PM

    Those are not machine tracks. The ocean floor is riddled with rifts that are caused by continental drift.

  4. alanborky

    05/18/2013 at 3:38 PM

    Mmm intriguing.

    Like you Greg I’d be inclined to go with the echo sounding explanation but every now and then you see manoeuvering patterns which seem to defy the logic of such a scenario.

    That and they also disturb me somewhat because they remind me of these recurring dreams I’ve been having for years now where I’m wand’ring in and out the Mersey along the beds of the seas and oceans of the world where I keep bumping into there’re all these endless dead people blindly shuffling along.

    The most recent highly detailed one from about 18 months 2 years back involved this US crew belonging to some sort of experimental underwater spy technology which’d got them killed either coming in or going out Liverpool bay during training for their real mission.

    Apparently they were seriously pissed off about bodies being abandonned and were threatening to go exorcist on someone’s ass.

    It’s probably just a wacky dream but if Putin’s reading this he might think about snooping round Liverpool Bay just in case on the understanding he keeps the technology but the bodies get returned.

    • Scienceseeker

      05/20/2013 at 7:34 PM

      The “Echo Sounding Theory” is pure non-sense: since when does SOUND make SHADOWS? Look at the photo, the light source is from the bottom of the pic. You’re trying to tell me that a boat made this triangular shape with its echo sounder, then later on a photo-satellite going over picked up its residual echo sounding and that it had manifested itself into a solid in order to cast a shadow? C what I mean about pure BS?

      • Chew

        05/20/2013 at 8:02 PM

        Since at least the US Civil War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_shadow

        These are bathymetric surveys; i.e. depth of the water, using echosounding; they are not photographic images. Where on Earth did you get the idea these are shadows cast by light?

    • Brian Noble

      06/25/2014 at 3:37 PM

      They are not echo sounder tracks.Echo sounders use sound waves which make no impression on the sea floor. They are not trawlers nets, or the doors, because they do not strike the bottom often and do not result in straight lines of that nature ever.When are people going to finally understand we have alien species living on this planet. They reside in lakes and the ocean. They are mining for minerals and sampling sediment for their own purposes. Try reading Timothy Good’s books or The Third Explanation Amazon Kindle. Wake up and smell the ozone people!

      • Noble full of gas

        08/29/2014 at 4:25 PM

        What a load of crap

        • Brian Noble

          09/29/2014 at 11:37 AM

          At least ten years of my time was spent as a science journalist. There may (or may not be) a good explanation for these tracks. No one however has come up with a realistic one yet. The point is, it doesn’t take a lot of research to realise we are not alone. It does however take an interest in science and an open mind. Michio Kaku once said, “A species a 1000 years ahead of us would look just like magic, 500,000 would take them anywhere they wanted to go, and do anything they wanted to do – anywhere!” Are you suggesting there are no inhabited planets 500,000 years ahead of. There are almost certainly planets millions of years ahead of us. I repeat -wake up and smell the ozone!

  5. R Mace

    05/19/2013 at 6:24 AM

    ascension island Has tracks all around it..

  6. Mr. E

    05/19/2013 at 6:45 PM

    Notice how the image gets cleaner over geographic structures or areas where the “tracks” go over. This is because it is in fact the sonar imaging; these are clearly the same thing Google explained.

  7. mkeable

    05/20/2013 at 2:07 PM

    Ancient roadways of past civilizations perhaps???

  8. Scienceseeker

    05/20/2013 at 6:31 PM

    Using standard aerial photo techniques, those “tracks” are are more like super-wide construction roadways complete with strange shaped buildings and vehicles on them. There are tall structures on & alongside the roads. This could be some kind of manufacturing site. A big site!

    Note how the individual road segments goes down inside the small craters & cracks; this rules out a large tracked vehicle making these marks, because it would span the hole, leaving no track-mark down inside. The tracks look as if constructed in long single rolls from the inside roll out.

  9. Capt. Avatar

    05/20/2013 at 10:18 PM


    • phil

      05/28/2013 at 1:38 PM


  10. Sean

    05/23/2013 at 3:51 AM

    I think the key here is that it’s too easy to assume what google earth shows is an accurate representation of what is actually there, when in fact the hundred or so websites about google earth glitches and so on should prove otherwise (i remember the purple crystalline underwater city, and the giant strips of tape holding northern Canada together)

    Google earth is fully subject to glitches and visual flaws that are a byproduct of how the images are stitched together. No good reason to assume these are anything more than that (in this case, the sonar theory). When someone goes out there and finds otherwise, then I’ll be interested.

  11. JillV

    07/10/2013 at 1:07 PM

    Giant sea slugs


    the mermaids are getting organized and forming an army to do something about that sonar. I’m rooting for the mer-people.

  12. Will

    07/11/2013 at 10:16 AM

    Honestly the tracks that doubled back may have been from a ship surveying for a sunken ship, especially since the tracks pass back over several anomalies as if to check if they are natural or not.

  13. Dan

    08/22/2013 at 12:56 PM

    The ocean is expansive, and we have been to only a very small portion and we we have mapped only a portion as well.

    These anomalies you see are really from the data captured from ocean vessels that survey that path. Most ships, like aircraft travel in a straight lime for long distances and so you see these long lines running across the floor of the ocean where a ship was surveying as it traveled.

    Those other areas that have less detail on either side of the line are really low resolution surveys, or even guesstimates. And so, they have a much smoother and less defined surface. It’s not that it is that flat or smooth, it’s just that we haven’t surveyed it to great detail.

    • mark

      06/13/2014 at 6:11 PM

      these show on google satellite. sonar does not show on satellite images.

      • Joel

        08/01/2014 at 6:49 PM

        Except these are not satellite “images,” at least not ones made by light. Look at the shorelines, you can clearly see where it switches from images to ocean floor height data. The Bahamas really stand out for this.

  14. anna

    01/19/2014 at 12:56 PM

    Hi Guys,

    I have noticed these strange markings too. There is an especially interesting one off of the coast of Madagascar….southeast of the island. It is really quite unique compared to those, say, off of the coast of Oregon (those were the first tracks I noticed). Seem a bit large to be made by ships. There is much to be found via satellite imagery. I am an archaeologist and we sometimes use images to search for temples in Central America. I have never really looked at the ocean til recently. Who knows, these may be explained away like the complex impact crater on Mars….the one that looks a bit like a face. The closer you zoom in on it, the more one sees that it really is just an impact crater.

    • Brian Noble

      06/25/2014 at 3:42 PM

      Problem is photo experts from Bristol have said quite clearly that the Mars face photos have been scrubbed and doctored through filters. Why would NASA do that? Think about it.

  15. david

    02/05/2014 at 11:33 PM

    Hi greg..and anna…there might be an explanation for this from what i know..but..you can called it crazy…but it is actually a little bit “religious”…There is a relief in one of the ancient heritage who tell about this too..

    it is the great vehicle from the age of solomon..as described in the world wonder of borobudur,indonesia..(in our country the topic is quite intersting in these recent years..that borobudur temple is solomon heritage..not budha heritage)

    It s more than one..you can see it more in pacific too..and south of australia..it also has various wide from around 4 km to 14 km..yes..it is some kind of moving city

    An indonesian mathematician wrote about this in his book i read at this time..his writing some controversial book about this..a theory about we re not the most advanced civilization at the moment..there was a civilization who already conquer the land,the sky,and The ocean..the great ancient civilization of solomon..

    Try search “fahmi basya” in google and use google translate from indonesian to english..

    I hope it is useful..

  16. Pingback: Expanded Perspectives » The Slender Man

  17. mark

    06/13/2014 at 6:04 PM

    these (roadways) led me here, i look at areas that may have been above sea level during the ice ages and may have been human occupation sites. a road way would connect towns or cities and will intersect at major sites. i notice that these (roads) do just that.

  18. jpKomando

    08/08/2014 at 11:26 AM

    I my opinion Google is like many other corps, forced into misinformation. There are human entities that manipulate Natnl Govts, includint U.S. president and congress. If there is any finding that is earth shattering, they will confiscate and then ‘Leprechaun’ it (over supply false readings). Those trackings seem to have been left so long ago, that over time even ocean bottom drifting have covered up part of the track, then reappear over a hundred miles later along the same straight path. There is some commonality in these tracks. They are all an average of 5 miles wide. The most amazing one is about 3,000 miles long in the southern hemisphere. I named it the Polynesian trail, for obvious reasons. One end looks like an underground airport that gradually!!! merges into!!! the track-like paths. In 2009 300 mi off coast of LA, there was a square grid pattern. Each horizontal line was exactly 17mis apart and there were 7 of these E-W lines going north. These were very prominent on GE for about a year. Now they have disappeared. But not before I took pics of them on the computer screen. There have been a couple other GE sitings that have disappeared too. So…if you see something, photo it now, or for ever hold your peace.

  19. E45

    08/16/2014 at 12:41 PM

    What is that? See link for picture https://www.google.lt/maps/@76.9517152,-167.8142414,180103m/data=!3m1!1e3 You can see tracks from the bottom left corner going up and at the end of it some plane (I don’t know how to name it, such “X” form). Really strange.

  20. Brian Noble

    09/29/2014 at 11:59 AM

    Bottom trawling in the area photographed is illegal. It does happen however, but the mouth of the net is the size of a football field weighed down with ballast. This causes the nets to drag up everything in their path.Coral,unwanted fish, etc.. etc,. and creates huge sediment storms, which tend to obliterate the seabed marks made. They do go beyond 4 miles or so before hauling nets. They could not possibly have caused the photographed lines.They may be a camera anomaly or they may not. They are are not caused by illegal trawling.

  21. obama luigi

    10/19/2014 at 6:47 AM

    Proof that it’s echosounding: if you look at the sea mountains off the coast of Massachusetts these tracks go right over them and it’s only in those tracks that you can see Tue geography in detail. It would also make sense that they went over these mountains to measure the height.

    Don’t dismiss an idea just because you don’t think it’s true

  22. M

    11/06/2014 at 9:06 PM

    These ‘tracks’ are the paths boats have taken from harbor to harbor(look at Hawaii going to the mainland) the tracks are a result of the ships radar constantly scanning for obstacles along it’s journey. This means highly detailed images of the sea floor in a line only and these stand out from the rest of the blurred surrounding sea floor which is not scanned. Look at Google earth and turn the sea conservation icons on and you’ll see the boats zigged and zagged on various locations that are monitored and/or protected likely tracking fish or coral reef. The rest obviously go from shore to shore and overlap often so it’s merely a standard mariner barring.

    Now I’m no sea captain But hey I thought it was something unknown and mysterious too..at first, than I though about it some more and well logic demands this to be more probable.

  23. Marty

    01/05/2015 at 12:40 AM

    I think i may have found a vehicle large enough to make those tracks and it is still on the ocean floor, if it is not a vehicle of some sort it is most definitely something not natural. Check it out at: 34.000343, -119.033221

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