Secrets of the Black Sea – Ukraine

Shipwrecks, fragments of wars fought centuries ago, and the unmarked and watery graves of many have always been the purview of the sea, yet, hundreds of meters below Ukraine’s southern border, the Black Sea, produces well-preserved evidence for those doubting history. Oxygenated layers of the Black Sea ensure that anything below the surface is sealed like a wax museum. Indeed, as many as 50,000 separate shipwrecks may lie at the sea’s bottom tracing human migratory paths from the earliest centuries to modern day.

Archaeologists, treasure hunters, scientists, and others return to the Black Sea to uncover the secrets of humankind dating back to the time of the Scythians and the Greeks. The Black Sea is replete with myths too. The ancient Greeks, struggling to enter the Black Sea basin like the main character in the Greek myth, Jason and the Golden Fleece, called the waters “an inhospitable place”. Another myth suggests that the Black Sea waters are in fact the source of the flood in the story of Noah’s Ark. Once believed to be a freshwater lake, a catastrophic event caused by melting glaciers and a rise in water temperature turned the lake into the Black Sea flooding farmland along the coast.

Today, visitors to the Black Sea coast will find clean beaches ripe for boating and sea fishing, rocky bays ideal for scuba diving, and glorious views like the one the playwright, Anton Chekov once enjoyed watching acrobatic and playful bottlenose dolphins. Swimmers, especially during the month of August, may find the waves strangely luminous at night, an effect purportedly caused by thousands of plankton rubbing together in the water. Still, the Black Sea is a sea replete with legends. Maybe the iridescent waves are just the waters way of reminding the traveler of its secrets below the surface.