The holes may be the result of sea mammals.
The holes may be the result of sea mammals NASA

Some unusual mysterious ice holes over the eastern Beaufort Sea shocked the NASA scientist, who captured the image that has become an unexplained riddle for the researchers.

John Sonntag, a scientist for NASA's Operation IceBridge mission has taken the photographs of such mysterious ice holes on April 14. The scientist said that the team saw these "sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today. I don't recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere."

The main objective of this mission was to observe the sea ice but the finding of the mysterious holes became the most highlighted part of this scientific trip that was located about 50 miles northwest of Canada's Mackenzie River Delta.

While analyzing the pictures of these ice holes, another IceBridge project scientist Nathan Kurtz tried to explain that the rare phenomena took place in the area that has thin ice. However, he is not sure about the reason behind their mysterious creation.

"I'm not sure what kind of dynamics could lead to the semi-circle shaped features surrounding the holes. I have never seen anything like that before," said Kurtz.

Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said that the holes may have been created due to "waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface. Or it could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice."

Another expert, a sea ice scientist at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Chris Polashenski said that he has witnessed the same phenomena before but unable to pinpoint the reason behind it. He agreed to the possibility of breathing holes for seals but also noted that the holes were caused by convection.

Chris Shuman, a glaciologist from University of Maryland at Baltimore County, based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said, "This is in pretty shallow water generally, so there is every chance this is just 'warm springs' or seeps of groundwater flowing from the mountains inland that make their presence known in this particular area. The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry, just the way some polynyas form."

Almost similar to these Ice holes, there are several marine cavern or sinkhole, which has developed in a bank or island composed of a carbonate bedrock. Among others, one on the southeast Sinai, a few kilometres north of Dahab, Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea, is a blue hole, which is infamously called the diver's cemetery.

Red Sea Blue Hole
Red Sea Blue Hole Google Map

The other mysterious holes that were discovered on earth's surface:

  • The Devil's Sinkhole, Edwards County, Texas
    The Devil’s Sinkhole, Edwards County, Texas
    The Devil’s Sinkhole, Edwards County, Texas YouTube grab
  • Giant Blue Hole, Belize
Giant Blue Hole, Belize
Giant Blue Hole, Belize YouTube grab
  • Glory Hole, Monticello Dam, California
Glory Hole, Monticello Dam, California
Glory Hole, Monticello Dam, California YouTube grab
  • The Big Hole, Kimberley, South Africa
    The Big Hole, Kimberley, South Africa
    The Big Hole, Kimberley, South Africa YouTube grab