Bizarre Sponge or Bizarre People: The Eltanin Antenna

Eltanin Antenna (1964)
Courtesy of the U.S. Government (Public Domain)
Sometimes, it is not so much a thing that is bizarre, but rather how people react to it, as we have seen often on this blog. Such is the case with the so-called Eltanin Antenna. This object photographed at a depth of 3,904 meters gets its name from the USS Eltanin, which photographed it in 1964. This relatively famous photograph shows a distinctly antenna-like object coming up out of the floor of the ocean. The seemingly unnatural angles of the thing led some to believe it did not belong there.

It is here that we get to the bizarre thing about the Eltanin Antenna. In spite of scientific views doing anything but leaning this way, numerous individuals took the object as alien in origin. Thing with sharp angles at the bottom of the ocean? Aliens. To this day, UFOlogists and other hokey-pokey hobbyists think this device is either extraterrestrial or part of some conspiracy. Too bad reality is nowhere near as interesting.

As few as 7 years before the picture of the Eltanin Antenna was taken (possibly fewer), it was identified as a type of carnivorous sponge by the name of Cladorhiza concrescens. Sure, it is carnivorous, oddly shaped and living in a pretty unforgiving environment, but it is certainly terrestrial as much as anything else that exists on Earth is. Of course, the identification is called into question by die hards, but if you look at the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Volume 15, you will see that Fig. 541 looks very much like the Eltanin Antenna and this figure was published in 1888.