September 29, 2023
Contained in the ‘ghost ships’ of the Baltic Sea


Plunging into the icy waters surrounding Scandinavia, divers Jonas Dahm and Carl Douglas hunt for vessels lengthy misplaced to the ocean, what they name the “ghost ships” of the Baltic Sea.

Dahm and Douglas are historical past lovers and long-time pals who’ve devoted some 25 years of their lives to wreck looking and analysis.

Whereas most of the barnacle-clad vessels claimed by the Baltic Sea have lain in wait for hundreds of years, some are in remarkably good situation because of the preservative results of the water’s chilly temperatures.

On dives, Dahm captures haunting pictures. Intact ship furnishings, detailed inside wall carvings and an only-slightly-cracked ship’s clock have all been snapped on the seabed.

Dahm and Douglas additionally spend hours poring over books, researching the wrecks’ histories.

A collection of Dahm’s eerie pictures, paired with Douglas’ written reflections, characteristic within the e book “Ghost Ships of the Baltic Sea,” revealed by Swedish writer Bokförlaget Max Ström.

Contained in the ‘ghost ships’ of the Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea has been a middle for seafaring exercise for hundreds of years – from maritime commerce to maritime battle. Inevitably, meaning an extended historical past of ships claimed by the waves.

Within the e book, Douglas writes there are “tens of 1000’s of intact, undisturbed shipwrecks from each period” submerged in Baltic’s watery depths.

“There nonetheless are many who haven’t been discovered but,” Dahm tells CNN Journey.

The Baltic Sea’s potential wealth of well-preserved wrecks makes it the house of “the perfect diving on this planet,” says Douglas.

Dahm and Douglas first met within the late Nineteen Nineties by means of mutual diving pals in Stockholm, Sweden. Dahm’s been diving since he was a young person, honing his underwater pictures abilities throughout his obligatory navy service.

In distinction, Douglas admits he prevented the ocean for a very long time.

“I used to be afraid of water – however issues that scare typically additionally fascinate,” he tells CNN Journey. After a little bit of persuasion from pals, he gave diving a shot.

“After that I used to be hooked,” he says, whereas admitting he nonetheless will get seasick on boats.

Dahm took this photograph of the interior of what was once a passenger cabin on board the Aachen, a 19th century steam ship that sank in the First World War when it became a German navy vessel.

Every of Dahm’s pictures are bathed in a viridescent ocean hue, however key particulars are additionally illuminated, as Dahm strikes between capturing the heft of the misplaced ships and zooming in on haunting particulars.

Within the e book, Douglas writes about how the divers use “darkness to our benefit.”

“Balancing the pure gentle from the floor with flashlights and protecting as a lot as attainable of the wreck website is the objective,” he says.

Photographer Dahm, who makes use of Nikon D850 and Fujifilm GFX 100s medium format cameras, works with different divers to maximise time spent below the ocean.

“To take the massive wide-angle photos we typically are two to 3 divers working collectively, whereas I normally can deal with close-ups pictures on my own,” he explains.

This is a close-up shot of a ship's chronometer -- a type of clock -- on one of the wrecks.

In addition to gentle, there are are different challenges related to photographing wrecks – the chilly, after all, and the sometimes-opaque visibility.

And there’s the depths, which imply Dahm and Douglas and their workforce can’t ever linger. The ships featured within the e book are submerged as deep as 110 meters (360 ft) below sea.

“At that depth you don’t have very a lot time to take the pictures the best way you need,” says Dahm.

Remnants of the steam ship Rumina.

Douglas and Dahm plan journeys to explicit websites to see explicit ships. They get ideas from native fishermen, and different occasions observe within the footsteps of different divers.

However typically “a wreck will seem nearly randomly on our echo sounder,” as Douglas places it within the e book. Dahm and Douglas love spending time researching the historical past of their discoveries – notably once they stumble throughout nameless ships, story unknown.

For Dahm, it’s one among these extra mysterious wrecks that stands out to him. He calls the ship, the “porcelain wreck,” as a result of it’s nonetheless house to treasures consists of violins, clay pipes and pocket watches – and sure, a number of items fabricated from porcelain.

“We don’t know its identify, why it sank or the place it was headed. All we all know is that the ship had a priceless cargo and that it didn’t attain its vacation spot,” says Dahm.

Dahm and Douglas are cautious to not injury the wrecks throughout their exploration. They’re captivated with preserving the ocean and marine life. In addition they strategy their pictures and their e book with respect and care.

“In lots of instances they symbolize disasters the place folks misplaced their lives below horrible circumstances,” writes Douglas within the e book. “We go to these websites with monumental respect, and we do it to honor the victims and inform the story of what occurred.”

The e book is led by Dahm’s pictures, however Douglas’ accompanying textual content brings most of the tales to life. He says he needed his writing to supply perception – there’s enter from consultants like Dr. Fred Hocker, director of analysis at Stockholm’s Vasa maritime museum – however the writing additionally leaves room for questioning and reflecting.

“The writing follows the photographs,” says Douglas. “We wish the reader to essentially really feel the wrecks. Typically an excessive amount of data can damage that.”

And whereas the divers love to find solutions to their questions of their analysis, in addition they settle for not each story is knowable, and discover one thing surprisingly satisfying in that unknown.

“Typically we’ve to resign ourselves that we are going to by no means know the complete historical past – however these thriller wrecks are additionally very engaging,” says Douglas.

“I’ll in all probability by no means know the solutions to all these questions, nevertheless it’s okay, most shipwrecks won’t ever reveal their secrets and techniques anyway,” says Dahm.