SCIENCE
01/28/2015 03:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Diver Discovers Ancient Underwater Forest Off Coast Of England

What's it like to discover a prehistoric forest--one that's been hidden under water for thousands of years?

Dawn Watson knows first-hand. The 45-year-old scuba diver was exploring the waters off a tiny village near Holt along England's eastern coast (see map) last year when she found herself surrounded by what turned out to be the remnants of ancient oak trees.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first, I'm absolutely thrilled," Watson said in a written statement. "The sea was quite rough by the shore so I decided to dive slightly further out and after swimming over 300 meters of sand I found a long blackened ridge."

(Story continues below photo.)
underwater forest
Dawn Watson exploring the prehistoric forest in the North Sea off the English coastal village of Cley next the Sea.

The ruined forest is an otherworldly realm--one that Watson's diving partner, Rob Spray, likened to J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical Middle Earth. It was part of "Doggerland," a land mass that connected what's now known as Great Britain to mainland Europe during the last Ice Age--before it was flooded by the North Sea, BBC reported.

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