Shallowest water in the ocean
October 22, 2012 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Where can I stand on the ocean floor, with my head above water?

Some parts of the ocean are deep and others are not so deep. Are there any places where the water is just a few feet deep, but you are otherwise miles (perhaps hundreds of miles) from land? I'll accept islands that disappear during high tide (I assume there are some), but I'd like answers where there is never dry land.

I just like the idea of a boat stopping off in the middle of the ocean and being able to jump down and wade in the water, even though the nearest land is miles away.
posted by It's Never Lurgi to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Not exactly what you're looking for, but maybe a starting point: seamounts are basically what the name implies, undersea mountains. They typically are still well underwater, but occasionally have peaks that approach the surface. The Muirfield Seamount is tall enough that it presents a hazard to navigation (big ships only, though). And the Bowie Seamount off the coast of B.C. is also within double-digit feet of the surface.

I suspect that they don't come closer than that to the surface due to currents, or else they'd break through completely and be islands.

IIRC there's a seamount that's in the process of becoming a new island in the Hawaiian chain, so at some point it'll be very close to the surface. Probably not a place you'd want to stand though, when it does (since it'll be volcanic).
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:25 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are many gorgeous, in my estimation, maps of ocean floors, see some by googling ocean floor maps. I know I've read about such places, but can't remember where.
posted by mareli at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2012

the sunken atolls known as Minerva Reefs might be what you are looking for.

I'd also like to snorkel around Kicker Rock some day
posted by bendybendy at 12:39 PM on October 22, 2012

You might have luck Googling for "vanishing islands." These are islands that disappear at high tide, although as search term, it's getting a bit swamped by articles about climate change.

One such island is actually called Vanishing Island, although it has houses and trees on it, so it's not quite what you are looking for. There's also Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay, although it also has a house on it (at least for now). I know there's at least one of these islands in the Virgin Islands, and one was completely devastated by Hurricane Earl a few years ago -- but I can't for the life of me recall or find the name of it.
posted by OrangeDisk at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2012

I meant to add that Holland Island isn't a vanishing island, it's closer to what you are looking for.
posted by OrangeDisk at 12:59 PM on October 22, 2012

Bassas da India, in the Indian Ocean, is completely covered by the tides for about six hours each day.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:02 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Grand and Little Bahama Banks have parts of very shallow, almost at the surface, water. (Wikipedia link.) Yet you can be far out of sight of land at the same time.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:47 PM on October 22, 2012

I think there are some places like this in the Dry Tortugas off of the Florida Keys. If you look at the "Detailed nautical chart" on that page, a number of places there have soundings of just a few feet.
posted by vasi at 2:14 PM on October 22, 2012

The Nantucket Shoals "extends eastward for 23 miles and southeastward for 40 miles [from Nantucket Island]; in places water depth can be as shallow as three feet"
posted by mr vino at 5:35 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but the "Passage du Gois" is a french road often covered by tides.
posted by sarah_pdx at 5:57 PM on October 22, 2012

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