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Tenerife Travel Guide

The Dark Ocean

A few - it would appear very few - sea explorers reached the Canary Islands during ancient times. The islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called "Dark Ocean", into which very few sailors dared to venture. Furthermore, the ocean current called "Canaries Stream" flows in a southwesterly direction before veering to the west to sweep the unwary ocean vessel off to the end of the world, as it was believed during centuries.

Those few Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who reached the islands and managed to return home to tell their story, surrounded the Canaries in a mist of magic and legend.

According to the Mediterranean sailors' tales, the Atlantic Ocean was inhabited by all kind of monsters which destroyed the vessels and devored their daring crews. You could find at any moment giant whirlpools, storms caused by angry gods or... the end of the world. Once arrived at the world's edge, which was thought to be a flat disc, the unwise seamen would fall into the abyss.

In the opinion of some historians, there was an economic or militar reason for some of these legends. The Phoenicians, skillful sailors and trademen, knew some Atlantic searoutes along the African and European coast. They were not interested at all in having other people as competitors, so they tried to keep visitors at a distance by means of spreading awful rumours and legends.

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