Underwater World Shed Light Sea Levels
The boat made its way through the waves of the ocean world. The Fiji air was still and warm, with distant islands watching us like sentinels. It was a perfect day for Solo Lighthouse and the drown country that said to surround it. We all entered the Solo Lagoon gap through coral reef and we all bowed as we did so.
Solo Lagoon is located in the north of Fiji’s Kadavu Island Group. Solo means rock in the local dialect. This is what left of an earlier, more extensive land. An ancient legend tells us that this land was submerge by an earthquake or tsunami hundreds of years ago.
Our boat raced towards the 1888 lighthouse, built from remnant rock. People from Buliya and Dravuni islands shared their stories about how, on still nights, when they come here to fish they hear the sounds of mosquitoes buzzing and roosters crowing, and people talking.
Water World Learns
Everyone who enters the realm above the water world learns the rules and how to avoid them. Your boat will not leave the Solo Lagoon if it isn’t slowing down and bowing as you enter. You will never be able to take home more fish from the lagoon that you have.
Although it is easy to ridicule underwater worlds beliefs, they are likely to be a reminder of past submerged places. Many people today living in Fiji trace their roots back to Lomanikoro (the name of the land that was submerged in the Solo Lagoon). Although there is no record of the event in writing, it is believed that submergence restructured the power structures of Fijian society. This is something people can still recall. Similar traditions can be found elsewhere.
Many Aboriginal groups in northern Australia trace their lineage back to underwater lands. Mangurug, an elder Gunwinggu from Djamalingi, or Cape Don in Northern Territory, told a story decades ago about how his people came to be on Aragaladi, an island in the middle the sea, which was then submerge. He stated, Trees and ground as well as creatures and kangaroos drown when they were submerge by the sea.
Gulf Of Carpentaria World
Others living in the Gulf of Carpentaria believe their ancestors fled Baralku’s drowning land, possibly as a remnant of the submergence of Australia’s land bridge linking New Guinea and Australia during the last Ice Age.
There are many stories about underwater lands in northwest Europe where bells are believe to ring strangely from drown churches steeples. Cardigan Bay in Wales is home to many sunken towns. Local traditions tell of fisherman in medieval Brittany who saw the streets, monuments and sunken city of Ys under the water surface.
Many cultures have stories of underwater worlds inhabited and managed by people strikingly like us. These cities are home to benevolent sea witches and bearded monarchs who organise the lives for younger merfolk. Many of these merfolk aspire to be part of human society. Fantasy? Undoubtedly. Arbitrary inventions? Perhaps not. These ideas could be derive from ancient memories of submerge lands or the people who once lived there.
If we accept that some of these stories are based on centuries-old memories of coastal submergence then they might also have some practical application for human futures. For coastal lands are currently being submerge, birthplaces in living memories now underwater.
The ocean level, which now covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface and has been increasing and decreasing by tens to metres over the nearly 200,000 years that humans have lived on it, has changed dramatically in the 200 million years since we first walked the planet. The average ocean level was 120m or more lower at the end of last great ice age 18,000 years ago.
Sea level rose as land ice began to melt in the wake of the ice age. Every part of the globe had to adapt, and coastal peoples did so. Some moved offshore, others inland. They were unable to read and write so they recorded their experiences in oral traditions.
We know that oral traditions can preserve memories of memorable events for thousands of years. This is more than seven thousand years in the case Indigenous Australian stories about volcanic eruptions, coastal submergence, and other such tales. How could people’s memories of once-populated lands evolve in oral traditions to reach us today, and how can we help them?