05 January 2022

Quiz question: Which way does water flow in the Bosphorus?

Answer:  it flows both waysSimultaneously, and all the time.

An excerpt from Noah's Flood: the New Scientific Discoveries about the Event that Changed History, by William Ryan and Walter Pittman (1998).
"... as far back as the Persian invasions of Byzantium in the early seventh century, there had been knowledge of another current flowing in the opposite direction to the surface current and lying below it... when the Byzantine emperor Heraclius crushed the invaders from Asia Minor, he flung the torso and head of his foe separately into the Bosphorus.  The bloated torso floated and drifted south in the surface current.  The head sank directly to the bottom.  Months later teeth washed ashore in gravel bars to the north."
Finding those teeth would be indirect evidence of course, but in modern times, local boatmen know that the surface current flows south into the Sea of Marmara and thence into the Aegean/Mediterranean.  If they want to take a boat north, they can lower a bucket of rocks on a long rope to the bottom, where the northward current of seawater is located; it will carry the bucket north and thus tow their boat on the surface.

More about this book later; just wanted to drop this tidbit into the blog now.  Satellite photo from NASA Earth Observatory.

Addendum: Just found this -
British scientists have discovered a 115-feet deep river, more than half a mile wide - at the bottom of Black Sea. The flow - carrying highly salty water and sediment - is 350 times greater than the Thames, according to a Leeds University team who used a robotic submarine to scan the seabed near Turkey.
The source at OneIndia says that the size of the flow would make it the sixth largest river in the world.


  1. There are currents at different levels, yes - but there are also different surface currents too. I can't remember precisely which way it runs, but there's a current at either shore that runs north and one in the middle that runs south, or vice versa. During the annual swimming race across the Bosphorus, competitors end up swimming in a Z pattern as they are towed first one way, then the other by the currents.

  2. Only the best comment posts at TYWKIWDBI...

    1. Perhaps the thing I'm proudest about regarding TYWKIWDBI is that people tell me that this is the only blog they visit where they specifically read the comments on the posts. That I think is a reflection of the quality of the readership.

    2. Considering that maybe I should stop now. LoL
      Of course with all these currants running this way and that, the obvious question is why?
      Different temperature or salinity strata are moved by some laws of physics/nature?
      Movement of those strata cause movement of other strata?
      I suspect the answers are complex, perhaps beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

    3. Note there are four major rivers feeding fresh water into the Black Sea. All of that water has to move out to the Aegean and Mediterranean, while salt water from the latter two move back into the Black Sea. Relevant:



    4. Wikipedia says:

      The Southbound flow is 16 000 m3/s (fresh water at surface) and the northbound flow is 11 000 m3/s (salt water near bottom).

    5. Which would seem to imply an input of 5,000 m3/s from the four rivers. But that wouldn't factor in the evaporative loss from the vast surface of the sea, so the river input must be way more.

  3. When I was a kid, I devoured books but was of course a lousy student. All I did was read - often in bed until dawn. I spent my school days absorbing volume after volume of the available encyclopedias. We moved often and the first thing I would do at a new school is see if the had any encyclopedias that I wasn't familiar with.

    Sometime during my last days of elementary school, I picked up a copy of "Dardanelles Patrol" (Pub 1964) a book about WW1 submarines. This book absorbed me and I read it several times. I still have that copy and still pick it up once in awhile (I'm 65).

    The book is about British submariners trying to get into the black sea. Trying to pass through the straits submerged, they kept failing until the E11 figured out that the surface and bottom currents were reversed. A great story about some very brave men.

  4. With four big rivers dumping into the Black Sea it has to level up with the other oceans by moving water out. That’s simple logic, but Poseidon clearly has a lot of things going on under the surface that we don’t fully comprehend. Apparently the ocean scientists are figuring out the secrets of the deep but most of we the masses don’t even know these things are going on.

  5. A look at the Strait of Messina might provide a useful perspective.

  6. Kinda related.. the currents in the Straits of Mackinac also flow both ways, but not at the same time. Hydrologically, Lakes Michigan and Huron are actually one big lake, even larger than Superior.

  7. The Black Sea below 120m is the largest body of anoxic water on the planet. All that river discharge is a 10% skim on the top. Like I said:

  8. Re. your addendum: underwater rivers are fascinatingly weird.

  9. Wasn't there a comment here about some culture that knew to use the sails to go in one direction and to drop a vessel down into deep water to be dragged in the opposite direction??

    I swear I read it here. Was it a comment removed because of inaccuracy? I ask because I'm researching for my podcast.

    1. Leah, that bidirectional flow was discussed at some length in this book -


      - and I believe they mentioned early sailors dropping sea anchors to get their boats pulled "upstream."

      You might check your library for the book.

    2. Odd, I'm aware of the book because of this blog but have not read it. It's a mystery where I heard or read that factoid. I sincerely thought it was in a comment on this post. By the way, I love reading the comments on this blog, very informative. I don't read comments anywhere else.

      In any case I cite TYWKIWDBI in my podcast episode on Geographical Oddities where we discuss underwater rivers. It will come out on May 9th. RemnantStew.com


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