All Of The Oceanic Enigmas
From a young age of 15 years, Brandi Muller fell in love with diving and swimming. She felt deeply passionate about diving into the deep ends of the oceans exploring parts that have never been touched. Approximately 95% of the Earth’s oceans remain unexplored. Water covers most of the earth’s surface but we have not fully uncovered what it contains. Strange mysterious creatures inhabit it and relics from our past litter its sea floor. From lost underwater cities to sunken treasure, the oceans have always been a curious case for people.
Of Inspired Beginnings
Using her parent’s camera she would take photographs of plants and animals even as a little girl. As time went on, she decided to combine her passions for diving and photography. Brandi learned how to dive during a student exchange program in New Zealand at the young age of 15. When she went on to University she traveled to Tasmania, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica, learning about plants and ecology. She backpacked through South Africa and even worked as a diving instructor there but nothing could prepare her for what she would be discovered a few months later.
A Passion For Underwater Photography
In just a span of a few years, she became one of the most sought after underwater photographers of her time. Her beautiful photographs have been critically acclaimed. Apart from teaching diving she also received a captain’s license. “I love observing behavior in the ocean, to catch a shrimp cleaning a turtle or see courtship and mating behavior. I could sit with the same fish for an entire dive (sometimes more than one dive) and be happy just observing and photographing,” Brandi has said.
Marshall Islands Dives
Scuba diver Brandi became the captain of a boat in the Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. She was given full liberation to explore the vast Pacific Ocean which also helped in her passion for her photography. The Marshall Islands sit atop ancient submerged volcanoes rising from the ocean floor, making it an exquisite location for underwater photography. Because of nuclear contamination from US testing during the Cold War period, most of the atolls in this area remain untouched.
Discovering Unusual Aquatic Debris
Brandi’s expeditions around the islands led her to discover something interesting. In many locations, the seafloor was littered with large, metal debris. Portions of broken metal and glass protruded through the bottom of the ocean, long rusted and overtaken by the marine flora. The more she explored, the more debris she found. She continued to go deeper in search of more answers. The depth of the ocean floor made the dives difficult as you can’t remain at such depths for too long and one careless move could result in a quick death. Brandi assumed that she was headed to a shipwreck. Then she was in such a shock because of her discovery.
Any Forgotten Graveyards
After doing all the exploration, she came across pieces of glass and metal. Deep on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, she stumbled onto a myriad of planes. Like a ghostly watery graveyard, unknown aircraft rested at the bottom of the ocean. Forgotten by time, the planes lied untouched apart for some fish that had now taken up residency within the structures. Brandi continued coming to the site, day after day to photograph the long-forgotten planes. The was not much evidence to point to what it was exactly.
A Tale Of Lost Pilots And The Mystery Behind
Brandi explored the watery gravesite top to bottom but interestingly one thing people would expect to find was missing. A strange thing though was that there were no signs of people or skeletons. If they were in fact planes that had been shot down, surely a pilot must have gone down too. Stranger still was that even after discovering more planes, there was no skeleton in sight. Corpses submerged in the water below 44 degrees Fahrenheit can be persevered intact for up to five years, however, the sea life usually makes a quick meal of bodies. How could there be no human bodies?
Fairly Good Condition Of The Planes
Also, the planes were in quite an excellent shape still. Keeping aside all the rusting and sea plants such as coral and barnacles, the planes were for the most part wholly intact. Brandi quickly concluded that they must not have been shot down from the looks of it. The planes were too rusted over to identify the insignia which marked their owners. She concluded that the planes were owned by Japanese bombers that did not have time or fuel to go back home instead of crashing into the ocean. But that still didn’t explain the lack of human remains…
Could It Be Forgotten History
While the site was a resting place for the planes, it certainly wasn’t a human graveyard. She went on visiting the site hoping to uncover the mystery behind it all and she was actually the first one to have ever discovered this site. The locals didn’t seem to know anything about the site. Perhaps she had stumbled onto a major part of history that had long been forgotten.
Growing In Numbers
In due time, she had found almost one hundred of the planes. “They should have flown more, lived longer, but they were sunk in perfect condition,” Brandi told the Daily Mail. She discovered the site about five miles off the coast of Roi-Namur in the Marshall Islands. Many battles occurred in the area during the Second World War between the United States and the Empire of Japan. Where are all the pilots and why are the planes not in terrible condition? she kept asking this question over and over.
They Were In Fact WWII Souvenirs
The planes, as it turned out, were neither shot out of the sky nor did they crash land into the sea. The aircraft were leftover remnants from WWII, surplus American aircraft that were dumped into the sea after the war ended. “For me, diving on airplanes, especially World War Two airplanes is really unique,” Brandi said in an interview with the Dailymail. “Diving on shipwrecks seems normal, you expect ships to have sunk…but not planes.” But was that the only explanation?
A Very Eerie Memorial
The underwater planes stand as a ghostly memorial to a war that claimed the lives of tens of millions of people across the planet. All of this is acceptable but why abandon such a heavy sum of planes. The reason seemed too vague and unacceptable for Brandi. No explanation made sense. After all, the planes still appeared to be in a working state so there was no reason why they would just be dumped like garbage. These aircraft must have been worth millions because at least 150 planes were discovered during Brandi’s dives in the area.
All These Sunken Treasures
The site of wreckage became her most strenuous site to photograph till date. Brandi explained that the wreckage was exceptionally hard to photograph given the depth. All of the airplanes were located deep under the waters so it became impossible to sustain breath even for a skilled diver like her. “But seeing planes underwater is strange, planes don’t belong in the water, they belong in the sky, so it feels weird to dive on them. But amazing and special too. And because these planes didn’t sink because of the war they are special.”
WWII Planes Under Sea
Forgotten and lost were over 150 planes sat at the bottom of the ocean for over 70 years. Planes found at the site included: TBF, the TBM Avenger, the Douglas SBD Dauntless (dive bomber) and the F4U Corsair. The majority of the models had only been introduced in the early 1940s and were used heavily during the Second World War. A few of these models were even used in the Korean War but were later suspended as better crafts had been developed and manufactured.
Still In Search Of Answers
Following the defeat of the Empire of Japan, these planes had been disposed of by members of the Allied forces. Disposing of the planes allowed the military to avoid adding them to their already surplus supply of aircraft. Storage and maintenance would prove to be a nuisance. Many new and improved models of aircraft were already streaming into US forces. Leaving the leftover WWII planes obsolete. Some models such as the Douglas SBD Dauntless had already been replaced by faster models in the early 1940s. But wait, there were even more discoveries made by Brandi.
Old Habits, They Do Die Hard
Additional sites where wasteful dumping of Allied or US equipment has been found in the region. Wreckage off the island paradise of Vanuatu has revealed that US military dumped bulldozers, jeeps, trucks, semi-trailers, forklifts, tractors, clothing, corrugated iron, and even Coke bottles into the sea. Similar to the equipment being dumped at Marshall islands, it was cheaper for these as well to be dumped instead of returning them to the US. Many people also found an issue as to why they could not have been donated to the locals staying there.
The Battle Of Midway
The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, crippled the American forces in the South Pacific but failed to destroy American determination for an Allied victory against the Axis powers. Six months after the attack at Pearl Harbor, US forces retaliated against the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. With the American troops successfully breaking the code of the Japanese military, they inflicted great devastation to them. Military historian John Keegan called the battle “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”
Marshall Islands During WWII
It Served as an advantageous geographical site and were the easternmost point in the Empire of Japan’s defensive ring in the early stages of WWII. The Kwajalein Atoll was home to the Japanese 6th fleet administrative center, tasked with the defense of the Marshall Islands. But in 1944 the American troops invaded the island and alas the Japanese troops were undermined. The Mili Atoll was home to a 5,100-man Japanese garrison, due to a lack of food and other injuries, just about half of the total numbers survived.
The South Pacific
The number of air and naval battles in the South Pacific has made the region an underwater graveyard. The ocean floor is flooded with these sunken ships and planes in fact. Brandi Mueller has also dived at locations where Japanese ships and planes were later discovered. Similar to the abandoned American planes the Japanese planes and ships have sat on the Pacific floor for 70 years. Till then they remained undisturbed, rusting and collecting coral. Unlike Brandi’s more recent discovery, there were traces of human remains of the soldiers and pilots in this area.
All Of These Sunken Ships
Underwater photographer Brandi Mueller has explored many WWII graveyards on the seafloor. This area serves as a reminder of horrific multiple deaths but the seawater has helped in preserving the condition of the ships and planes for all these years. With her excellent diving and photo skills, Brandi Mueller has traversed the globe taking pictures that would otherwise never be seen. With the help of her photographs, she is able to tell stories and shed light on human history that included tragic wars killing hundreds.
Discovering Chuuk Lagoon
Another amazing WWII site Brandi has explored is located on the seafloor of the Chuuk Lagoon in the modern-day Federated States of Micronesia. Chuuk Lagoon was the Empire of Japan’s main naval base in the South Pacific theater. The base was heavily fortified against Allied positions located in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. During the war, the base was stationed by almost 28,000 Japanese sailors. This base was commonly known as “the Gibraltar of the Pacific” notorious for its natural and man-made fortifications.
More Amazing Findings
An incredible amount of Japanese war relics have been found at the bottom of Chuuk Lagoon. Allied forces sank twelve Japanese warships, 32 merchant ships and destroyed at least 249 aircraft during the battles that took along the island. The Japanese ships were loaded with supplies when they sank making the seafloor a veritable treasure trove of underwater divers and explorers. Brandi’s pictures of the wreckage at Chuuk Lagoon are particularly haunting. The site is known as “the million dollar wreck” due to the estimated worth of the undersea cargo.
The Japanese WWII Planes
Most of the Japanese planes found in the South Pacific wreckage are the Mitsubishi G4M, also called the Betty Bombers by Allied forces. In Japanese, the planes are referred to as Hamaki, or cigar, mainly because of their shape and size. The Empire of Japan produced 2,435 of these warplanes for their naval forces during the Second World War. The Betty Bomber model was retired in 1945 after the war ended. They were good for long distance attacks but their light weight was a severe disadvantage.
What Happened After The War
Imperial Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, in a recorded broadcast by Emperor Hirohito, officially bringing the Second World War to a close. On August 28, 1945, the occupation of the Japanese home islands by the Allied forces began. The war cost the United States around $341 billion dollars, calculated into 2015 currency the war cost over $4.5 trillion dollars. An amount equivalent of 74% of America’s GDP. A staggering amount of Allied equipment was abandoned and dumped into the ocean after the war’s end. So staying underwater meant harmlessness?
What A Waste On War
The Japanese have placed several explosives underwater since the time of war. Therefore it is extremely dangerous for anyone to try and explore the site too freely not to mention the wreckage that it also contains spreading throughout the sea floor. The practice of dumping war equipment has also been practiced in several other wars that have occurred. A net worth of approximately ten million dollars’ worth of helicopters was dumped by US forces in the South China Sea after the Vietnam War. What is other mysterious waiting to be unfolded under the sea? Let’s just hope Brandi Muller and others like her can enlighten us in due time.