A German Environmental Observatory Vanished Without a Trace

Researchers have no idea how the observatory could have disappeared.
September 6, 2019, 4:21pm
German Data Station Observatory in the Baltic

A massive environmental observatory has vanished without a trace from the ocean seabed, leaving only a torn power cable.

According to the BBC, German experts said it couldn't have been dragged off even by a massive storm or animal on account of weighing close to half a ton. Baffling the station’s researchers even further is that it was located in a prohibited area. Nestled within Eckernförde Bay, just off Germany's Baltic Sea coastline, no boats whatsoever are allowed into the area.

The observatory was deployed in December 2016 by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, a marine research institute located in the German port city Kiel, and the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, Germany’s largest scientific organization. The institute had placed the observatory about 1.1 miles offshore, 72 feet deep, north of Kiel and south of Denmark.

"The data we get from it is priceless," said Professor Hermann Bange, head of oceanographic research at the institute overseeing the project, in a GEOMAR statement. The observatory’s instruments collected data about water temperature, salt and nutrient levels, along with concentrations of oxygen, chlorophyll, and methane. With this information, scientists were able to better monitor the Baltic Sea's ecosystem and intervene (if necessary) to preserve its stability.

Besides the torn power cable, Bange said that there has been nothing else to go on. At this point, he's hoping "someone finds parts of the frames somewhere on the beach."