We’re not sure why, but many of the lists of world wonders seem to be limited to structures and anomalies found above the ground. That’s probably why, back in 1989, CEDAM International decided to write up their own list comprised of underwater wonders.
The group, which is actually a non-profit to benefit divers who dedicate their time and skills to preserve and research the vast ocean, set out to find the seven most incredible underwater areas on earth. These are the choices they ultimately made.
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Formally referred to as the Republic of Palau, Palau is an island nation found approximately 500 miles away from the Philippines and is one of the smallest nations in the world. The reefs surrounding each of the islands are largely unexplored and house a myriad of incredible marine life species.
Image credit: TANAKA Juuyoh
Palau, also sometimes called Belau, is a hot destination for divers. If you have the opportunity to visit you’ll find yourself face to face with amazing reef sharks, jellyfish, barracuda, and more. The coral is amongst the most beautiful and colorful in the underwater world.
6. Belize Barrier Reef
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About 1,000 feet off the shores of Belize you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef. The 186 mile long stretch of reef is actually only a portion of the even larger Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which stretches from Cancun all the way to Guatemala’s River Maya. As of today, only 10% of the enormous reef has been researched and documented.
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The Belize Barrier Reef is second in the world only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is another incredible and highly sought after destination for divers from all around the world. The reef is home to more than 70 species of hard coral, 30 species of soft coral, more than 500 species of fish, and hundreds of additional marine life species classified as invertebrate.
5. Northern Red Sea
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Between Africa and Asia you’ll find a small inlet attached to the Indian Ocean now known as the Red Sea. The entire surface of the Red Sea spreads out over 169,000 square miles and consists of both deep trenches and shallow shelves.
Image credit: Razvan Marescu
On these shallow shelves you’ll find a myriad of incredible invertebrate species, soft and hard corals, and other marine wildlife. There are no other tropical seas in the world any further north than the Red Sea.
4. Deep-Sea Vents
A deep-sea vent, also known as a hydrothermal vent, is a place in the surface in the earth where unusually heated water can be found. Most are found in areas where there are active volcanoes or ocean basins. Above ground you can find hydrothermal vents in places such as Yellowstone National Park.
When these vents are found in the sea they are also known as black smokers. The fluids in these vents have special chemical make-ups that support the life of several unique organisms including, but not limited to, clams, shrimp, and giant tube worms. Deep-Sea vents have been found around the Kermadec Arc in New Zealand, and along the Galapagos Rift in the East Pacific.
3. Galapagos Islands
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The Galapagos Islands can be found in the Pacific Ocean west of Ecuador and formally form the Galapagos Province. The islands themselves can all be found near the equator and each one is considered to be volcanic.
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A number of incredible wildlife species can be found on these islands, including the Galapagos land iguana, the marine iguana, the Galapagos green turtle, the flightless cormorant, and many more. Sadly, human beings have introduced several other species to the islands which now threaten the species that once thrived there naturally without fear of predators.
2. Lake Baikal
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Located in southern Siberia, the Russian Lake Baikal is commonly referred to as “the Blue Eye of Siberia.” Combine the water found in all of the Great Lakes in North America and you still won’t match the size of this incredible body of water.
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Believe it or not, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, but it is not the largest. That honor is held by the Caspian Sea. Over 1,700 species of marine and plant life call Lake Baikal home and many of them are indigenous to the region.
1. Great Barrier Reef
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The Great Barrier Reef is well known for being the single largest system of coral reefs in the world. Located off of the coast of Queensland in Australia, the 1,600 mile reef is so large it can be seen from outer space.
Image credit: Leonard Low
The entire reef is comprised of almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is responsible for protecting much of the reef, which scientists fear may soon begin to suffer immensely from fishing, tourism, and global warming.
The ocean world is deep and mysterious but, fortunately, it’s something we’re still able to explore. We hope you’ll be able to visit one of these incredible places one day – whether you’re a diver or not.