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Mummified captain found drifting at sea

Mummified Captain Found Drifting at Sea

The mummified remains of a man last seen seven years ago have been found drifting aboard his yacht 50 miles off the Philippines coast.
Mummified captain Manfred Fritz Bajorat drifted on ghost ship for seven years.
The mummified remains of Manfred Fritz Bajorat found at sea aboard half-submerged yacht.

Of all the strange things found on the high seas, this one might be the creepiest…and the saddest. Express reported that two fisherman recently discovered a yacht partially submerged off the coast of Barobo in the Philippines. When they climbed aboard, they came face to face with the grey, mummified remains of its captain amidst strewn food, photo albums and clothes.

He was still sitting at his desk, where he had possibly been using the radio equipment to make a distress call before he died.

Paperwork on board identified the man as Manfred Fritz Bajorat, a German explorer last seen in Mallorca, Spain by a fellow sailor in 2009. Authorities speculate the cause of death may have been a heart attack. A broken mast suggests the yacht may have encountered bad weather.

High temperatures, dry ocean winds, and salty air preserved the corpse as the boat drifted around the globe.

Mummified sailor found at sea

On the condition of the remains, Jeremy Laurance writes for The Independent:

Pictures show a man with silver hair and a beard, his head leaning towards his crooked arm, which is resting on the table, as if he were studying a chart. His body is remarkably intact. Seated in the cabin, it was protected from scavenging sea birds; and the high temperature, low humidity and salty sea-air appear to have combined to produce ideal conditions for preservation of the corpse.

Had he fallen into the water, it would have been a different story. In tropical seas, decomposition and putrefaction begin quickly and progress rapidly. A body may sink to the bottom initially but the bacterial action which causes it to bloat with gas will normally mean that, after three or four days, it will again float to the surface, where it is exposed to sea-birds, sharks and buffeting by the waves.

In cold water, this process may be slowed. The tissues form a soapy, fatty acid known as “grave wax” that protects the corpse and halts bacterial growth. Bodies have been recovered almost completely intact after several weeks in cold seas. However, a natural mummification such as Bajorat’s is rare, as it requires extreme conditions of cold, salinity, acidity or aridity.

UPDATE: The Independent article also reports that, though he has not been seen since 2009, the last message received from Bajorat was a year ago.

SS Baychimo, Alaska’s Mysterious Ghost Ship

The SS Baychimo, the mysterious ghost ship of Alaska

Built in 1914, the SS Baychimo was a 1,322 ton cargo steamer used for Inuit pelt trading in Alaska. In 1931, after becoming trapped in pack ice, it was abandoned and left for dead. The captain believed the storm had caused too much damaged, and the Baychimo was doomed to sink.

That was only the beginning of a 38-year history for what has become one of the sea’s most mysterious ghost ships. The ship was sighted numerous times over the years, often eluding capture as if under control by an unseen crew. Once, a group of Inuits managed to board the ship, but became trapped there for ten days by a storm.

The ship was last seen frozen in ice in 1969. Despite a search for it in 2006, it has never been seen again and no wreckage has been found.

Read about the enduring mystery of the SS Baychimo ghost ship over at Mysterious Universe here: The Mysterious Ghost Ship of the Arctic

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