The mystery of the Eltanin antenna has finally been solved: it’s a sea sponge called Cladorhiza.

The “antenna” got its name from the USNS Eltanin, an ice breaking cargo ship launched by the U.S. Navy in 1957. On August, 29, 1964, while photographing the deep sea bottom West of Cape Horn, it took the famous Eltanin antenna photo, which has puzzled people for over 40 years.

The Cladorhiza is a dramatically-shaped sponge which resembles a microwave antenna. They’ve been described as “sponges with a long stem ending in ramifying roots, sunk deeply into the mud. The stem has nodes with four to six club-like appendages.”
read more

Between 1962 and 1979 the NSF Polar Research Vessel Eltanin surveyed Antarctic waters, studying the ocean and ocean bottom. In 1964, the ship photographed an unusual object at a depth of 13,500 feet. At the time, there was no submarine that could have carried a piece of technology to this depth.

The object appears to be a pole rising from the ocean floor with twelve spokes radiating from it, each ending in a sphere. The spokes are at fifteen degree angles to each other. It is located approximately 1,000 miles south of Cape Horn, beneath some of the most inhospitable seas in the world.
read more