UW forest

Divers Discover Pre-Historic Forest

In a remarkable surprise discovery, amateur divers have unearthed a forest that has been lying at the bottom of the sea for thousands of years

Volunteer diver Dawn Watson was in the water with her partner Rob Spray, routinely surveying marine life. Just as she was running out of air and about to turn back, she spotted what looked like ‘an enormous, almost a standing wave of black stuff’ that she initially thought was part of a sunken ship’s hull.

Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a solid piece of wood – and the remains of a massive ancient forest.

‘I was really lucky,’ Watson told the BBC. ‘I just clipped the very end of what we know is there now. If I’d been three or four metres to the right, we’d never have seen it at all.’

The forest was discovered about 300m off the coast of Cley Next The Sea, a village on the Norfolk coastline. Watson and Spray believe that the forest became exposed after stormy weather caused sand on the sea floor to shift.

Experts say the forest would have been part of Doggerland, a landmass in the North Sea that connected Britain and continental Europe. Mesolithic people inhabited Doggerland until it was gradually swallowed up by rising sea levels and disappeared around 6,000 years ago.

Now, it is home to an abundance of marine life including coral, starfish and crabs. Watson and Spray are planning more dives to explore the forest and map it out.

Watson is no stranger to the waters of Norfolk. She heads the East Anglia operations of Seasearch, a volunteer-driven underwater survey that recruits recreational divers to gather information about marine habitats and wildlife in Britain and Ireland. Seasearch is coordinated by the Marine Conservation Society.




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