In December 1872, a merchant ship christened the Mary Celeste was discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.  Though sea conditions were extremely mild, and the ship had been manned by experienced sailors, not a single living soul was found on board, and neither the captain nor crew were ever seen or heard from again.

Adding to the mystery, the ship was in its first month of a scheduled six month venture, and was fully stocked with food, water and supplies.  The cargo was found untouched, and the crew’s personal belongings and valuables were still in place.  The question of what happened on the Mary Celeste remains one of the greatest maritime mysteries of all time.

Though theories range from underwater earthquakes to sea monsters, ZRS Researcher, Isabella Staal, points to a zombie outbreak as one likely explanation:

“If an undead sickness was triggered on the Mary Celeste, the isolated crew would have little ability to defend themselves.  One zombie would become two, then five, then ten.  The remaining survivors would have no choice but to die fighting, or jump into the unforgiving sea to drown.”

Staal speculates that once every last living soul was killed, the remaining zombies would likely head into the ocean themselves in search of more flesh on which to feed.  Weeks later when the ship was finally spotted, it would be found empty and lifeless.

Could zombies have eaten the crew of the Mary Celeste?  What do you think?



  1. I am not saying it was zombies, but if it was, the absence of remains doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. One of the crew could have been infected somewhere they stopped and spread it to other crew members who then devoured the rest. When a storm washed the zombies and the bodies of their victims into the ocean leaving no trace. It is possible that’s what happened think on it.

  2. Fred's not dead

    SImply the crew had sat down to a meal and an emergency occurs what it was one will never know. The ocean is a dark dangerous thing. The Dinner was still at the table so it was not long at sail when it was found as rat swarm ships even these days but back then they had more then you could shake a stick out prompting people to put wodden discs around their hammack ropes to help keep them off people and not bite faces.
    So what kind of emergency could have happened to make both men and rats even roaches swarm off a ship and leave good food to dry on its plates. The cargo could have gave off a gas and the cargo was 1,701 wooden barrels of pure grain alcohol…some how it could have put off fumes from having a new or wrong type of sealer on the barrels making the crew jump off as they discovered rats and roaches swarmed to the water…the ship had left port a month before so seals could have loosened in hot weather but by the time the ship was found the weather was cooler and the wood swoll to reseal the barrels. The Capt had taken his young wife and a small child on board and had a crew known to get along well and all spoke english even though a dane,germans,Eglish and two Americans made up this crew. A man would not take his family on a life raft for any reaon then one most dire and deadly….be it zombie, exterterristial or sea monster the ship is resold makes a good profit for six years until its ran agound on a reeef and the ship is salvaged of usable stuff then sold and repaired to run under a new name and company with no problems even though it was out dated by this time it was used for runs that suited its old design well keeping it afloat economically and in the water. Unti Davie Jones gives up its crew we will never know what happened.

  3. It might have been fairly difficult to tell if belongings below deck had/hadn’t been messed with. A nasty storm comes through and everything goes every which way. Also, any mess below deck (especially in crew quarters) could have easily been written off as remnants from accidents below deck. Waves get going, crew members get tossed around in their quarters, vomit from motion sickness, maybe some blood from impact injuries. . . any mess down below so easy to explain it may not have even been recorded because it was taken for granted that there would be a certain amount of chaos/vomit/blood.

  4. this idea has holes in it because there may have been signs of fighting. . . or may not, if the crew was wasted: what about slavers? If the weapons were locked away with only the captain and first mate having anything near ready access there wouldn’t be much way for the crew to defend themselves. . . of course, this would probably have left signs of a struggle belowdeck. . . but drunk men + overwhelming number of pirates (slavers)=little struggle, little evidence.

  5. if they were truly being attacked by zombies was there no man on the ship that was a coward and hid in the captain quarters or something and i doubt water would wash off blood in rooms that do not have access to the outside… to me the most plausible idea is they went to shore and some idiot forgot to drop anchor and they died on a uncharted island

  6. with the amount of panic a bunch of blood hungry zombies would cause the whole ship would be trashed in the struggle and covered in blood stains. this theory is too ropey for me but the other ones are pretty interesting.

  7. The Mary Celeste had been carrying an amount of alcohol in its stores. A running theory states that this alcohol caused a minor explosion below deck, and the captain, not wanting to risk another explosion, abandoned ship with his crew. The ship was probably found almost immediately after they had left the ship itself. Times being what they were, the lifeboats were probably lost at sea.

  8. CLEARLY…Ninjas did this!

  9. blue must be right about zombies licking the blood up and gave chase to some survivors after jumping in the ocean, because like he said they could have been really desperate with a ship full of zombies

  10. What i believe is that zombies could have token over the ship at day while the crewmen were still drunk. they took everyone out one by one. when everyone was bitten the zombies wandered the ship. the ship never made it port on time during that time the zombies wandered the ship and maybe during a storm they were washed out to sea. the ship was unmanned so it never reached port because i say that zombies are realy retarded

  11. Interesting idea that’s been put across, but does that not then suggest the possibility of a zombie invasion / outbreak once the zombies reached shore… ? Might be worth doing some research and see if there’s any correlation.

  12. to gothbaby,
    the average sailor up untill the 1900’s didn’t know how to read or write. plus this was a merchant ship so not everyone would be armed and the muskets and swords for the crew would be locked away with the captian and the first mate having the only access to them as to prevent a mutiny.
    plus crime secene investigation was in its infancy so every thing would be looked at and scrutinized, plus if they caught the infection early enough the zombies would have been killed and thrown over board and some of the remaining crew would have abaondoned ship and just jumped in to the ocean.

  13. One thing you all seemed to have missed is that wood is extremely absorbent. Now I’m not saying that you’re all wrong about the sea washing the blood away. But you would think that the blood would have enough time to be absorbed in the wood to leave dark stains, most likely all over the place, as zombies aren’t exactly the cleanest eaters… And the gun shots into the wood of te ship. Guns in those days didn’t fire like now. Single shot… Reload.. Who’s going to pick a muzzle loader over a sword with people trying to eat you? Plus th bullets would most likely have lodged in the abdominal area of said zombies. Then they ge discarded for better suited weapons, like swords. Also unlikely that the crew would fight underneath deck level. Too tight. Those ships and crew chambers were the roomiest either.

  14. I have a possibly more convincing example. In 1845 sir John Franklin attempted to discover the north west passage from the Uk through to North america, this was to elminate the neccessity of going down the southern tip of America to reach the east coast. The ships that were sent became ice locked (stuck), they stayed on ship living of the supplies for a number of months when a group attempted to walk south and find help. For many years their was no evidence of what happened to the men. However reports and testimony from various innuits who came across the survivors may lead to the assumption of a possible zombie outbreak.
    One innuit came across the ships stuck in the ice, this was in the 1850s, inside persons were still alive, they explained that the innuit should leave as the were people outside the ship living away from the ship who would cause harm, inside the ship the innuit believed that their was evidence of human remains being eaten.
    Then there were reports of a man found wondering the ice fields by innuits, who would not come to them and shouted for them to go away and leave him.
    this is very curious as obviously these men would have been desperate for help, they however decided to refuse assistance and distance themselves from saviour to I think possibly contain some threat that was endemic upon their group.
    Archealogical digs in the permafrost have recovered bodies of the seamen on the ship, these bodies contain evidence of human feeding upon them.
    Zombies? you decide.

  15. if there was any sort of salvage claim on it any signs of violence might be hidden by the salvager to avoid any allegations of piracy on his part, particularly if there had been only a handful of survivors and in the interest if massive gains the finder HAD decided killing a few strangers was well worth the money.

  16. Interesting but like the other people have stated there was no human remains or traces of blood on board the ship.An idea could be that the crew could have got wasted on board the ship one night and went to shore somewhere and forgot to drop the anchor. Next morning the ships gone.

  17. For no sign of resistance to occur, this would mean the zombie virus would have to been incubated and taken hold of 1 to 3 members of the ship overnight. This would then start the further expansion of the plague of zombies with “no resistance”. However, as stated, traces of blood would be evident on their sleeping quarters and belongings would be out of their original places; as long as we are dealing with your run-of-the-mill shambling zombies.

    Now what everyone has overlooked is the possibility of a portion of the crew taking over the ship during the night. First with the captain then with the rest of the crew, one by one, slicing their throats over a plank off the side of the bough. Then off the coast of Portugal, they would have swam to start a new life, or somewhere along the way a second ship came to collect their “under-cover” crew because they would have known the captains’ route or at least where it would have been steered to.

  18. correct me if im wrong but dont zombies avoid necrotic flesh and i dont think that they have the ability to become desperate due to the lack of brain activity

  19. The virus would have to have started on land so if someone could do some investigating at the port of departure to see if anything was happening there maybe some questions could be answered.

  20. it cant have been an outbreak no bodies were left

    • oh and also their were no unspoken for limbs or wierd signs of blood puddles or that would have been noted in the investigation of the ship so i simply dont see any way possible for this instance to be true but i think the columbine(SP?) shooting was caused by zombies

      • the high waves could have came and washed away wat was on the deck. and really the inside parts of a ship would be to cramped and crapmed would be the last place you want to be with someone who wants to kill you. the crew went onto the deck hoping to fight them and were outnumbered and consumed. then as the zombies left the high waves washed away the remains. of course this is all hypothetical but it does give an answer as to why no bones where found or congieled pools of blood.

  21. The real question is why and how did the first zombie get here, and on roanoke?

    • someone could have contracted it in england and the incubation time for the disease (*w/e it was) could have ended after landing. or while aboard and if it was all families i hardly think youd want your dad just tossed into the ocean. they take bodies onto land and bury them.

      • While I’d like to site you some information on 1600’s sailor burials, I can’t. But I would like to say that usually (and this is from my own knowledge from a source i dont recall), dead bodies were simply wrapped in a canvas bag, and then each one would have their funeral aboard ship, and then dropped into the sea. Considering those aboard those ships were all sailors, we can assume they followed traddition…

        Also, long voyages (If im correct) did have doctors aboard, who could tell that dead bodies = bacteria = death = GET DEM OFF DA BOAT

  22. Waves crashing against the bow of the ship, rum filled bellies of the singing crewmen, drown out any moaning of a hungry zombie. Several crewmen have been turned, or maybe just one. This one is all that you need. You have a bit of rum in you and out of the shadows whilst urinating off the side of the ship, a zombie sneaks up behind you and decides to feast upon you. You fight him off, but have already been bit. Now it’s your turn to gnaw upon the flesh of another shipmate.

  23. The food?

    If it was in the food or viral, the conditions are right for them all to catch it at the same time. On a ship at that time conditions are crowded at best, community kitchen with one meal served to all people. Your progression on a crew of 30 could have been 0 – 0 – 0 – 28.

    Possible out come could have been the few that were chased off were then followed by the swarm that wanting them.

    Just a theory.

  24. The unforgiving waves would have most likely removed all traces of any blood and gore from the deck of te ship had a zombie outbreak occured. My doubt in the zombie hypothesis comes in the form of written materials describing the outbreak. The captain’s log was found and metions nothing of a sickness that swept the ship or any crew members dying or falling ill. The ship was abadoned quickly as the state of the ship suggests, but they most likely had the intent to return as, once again, the captain’s log did not contain any information. Most likely, they feared their cargo, which I believe included rum and gum powder, may have been near exploding caused by the extreme heat in the hold. They likely tried to air out the hold, but sent the crew out on a lifeboat connected to the ship via a rope in case the hold exploded. Something may have happened to the rope and they were cast adrift never to be hear from again.

  25. Otto Palindrome

    Although I can’t argue with Isabella Staal’s undead virus hypothesis, I must take exception to her math. She says, “One zombie would become two, then five, then ten.” Actually, one zombie would become two, then four, then eight, and so on, in powers of two. Wait, powers of two? That’s very binary… perhaps it was a computer virus?!?

    • I think you’re assuming “Ivory Tower” (I.E.: “Perfect”) conditions, while Isabella is suggesting a more pragmatic situation. Not every “new convert” would be so efficient, & some might even be destroyed before they converted anyone. Also, remember that a zombie doesn’t stop after converting just one victim. A more realistic mathematical model of “Perfection” might be the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.), where each new term in the sequence is the sum of the previous two. Still, I believe (or maybe I’m just hoping) that her math is closer to the truth. I trust that with vigilance (& luck), we’ll never see any of this math put to the test!

  26. No blood or gore was found, but what about sword/axe cuts in the wood or musket/gun shot. If there was any sort of battle, marks of some sort would have been found. And not only that, but if any of it occured inside, it wouldn’t be washed away.

    Is there any relavent news around Portugal or where ever it shipped from around the time of it’s departure, or before that? Perhaps of food contamination or plague or disease?

    Perhaps the crew became sick with something very contagious and as people died, they were tossed into the sea. The last people aboard might have made the decision to jump into the sea themselves. Where this takes a zombified turn is perhaps rumors or superstitions of the crew lead them to believe the dead would come back as zombies. Whether they were right or not would be moot since they would have dumped them into the sea as soon as the person died.

    • while that could be i think the last few would have been more likely to get into a life boat “smaller so it would move faster” and try to go to land to get help. i doubt it was a zombie out break because like stated before there was no blood or bodies. atleast one person would have when into the cabin with a closed door thinking that would keep the zombies out. therefor no bodies or blood, no zombies.

  27. Has anyone offered the theory of “food contamination”?
    If the Zombie condition is viral in origin, & if a virus had contaminated the food supply, then a Zombie-outbreak would be not just possible, but unavoidable.
    I should point out that something similar actually happened to one of the early (failed) North Pole Expeditions. Food-storage technology was (at that time) still in its infancy, & the “new-fangled” metal tins of food had been vacuum-sealed…
    …with seams of LEAD SOLDER!
    As lead poisoning slowly accumulated in their systems, they became more-&-more befuddled, & eventually froze to death. This was confirmed decades later, when the remains of the party were rediscovered & autopsied.

    A pity that we can no longer inspect the Mary Celeste’s food stores for signs of viral contamination. It would have been a simple matter to either confirm-or-disprove this possibility.

  28. No. Although the Idea behind it is sound, How would the zombie virus oh so suddenly appear in the middle of the sea. PLus You haven’t told the rest of the story.
    The Mary Celeste was lost in the area known as the Bremuda triangle. This area is known for its strange goings ons, mostly mysterious mists that suck in ships and swallow aeroplanes, never to be seen again.
    When the Mary Celester was discovered the captain dismissed the odd circumstances and intended to take it to the nearest port and claim it under the salvage laws.
    Leaving His first mate in charge with a portion of his crew, they set sail for Florida. During this trip the two ships were seperated in a cloud of mist.
    When the other ship rediscovered the Mary Celester, the crew had vanished, leaving her in the exact same situation. Food on plates, belongings untouched, life boats all acounted for.
    What happened after that I’ve forgotten. Whether the captain brought it back or not cant remember, but there’s something in that Triangle, and it aint zombies.

    • Actually, you’re not correct on some of this. The ship was found by John Johnson, a captain of a ship with the same owner, and on the same merchant voyage. AND, it was found off the coast of Portugal, not anywhere near the Bermuda triangle. No one tried to steal or claim the ship, and a second crew was not lost.

  29. No blood or gore was found in the ship or even a sign of resistance. “…belongings and valuables where still in place.” So the answer is stealthy vampires or aliens or sea ninjas

    • True, no blood or gore, according to the records. But if the violence happened on deck, any evidence would have been washed away by rain and ocean spray. Plus, this was not the age of CSI Miami – who knows what there was evidence of that went unnoticed.

      Interesting fact: years later, a new owner of the ship tried sink it off the coast of Haiti, and then burned it down. History has it that he did so to claim insurance, but who knows…

      • zombies could have licked the blood & gore clean when they got desperate(if they still had their tongues) think about it desperate zombies looking for something to munch on a ship full of other zombies….then the disappearance of the bodies could have been that their where some survivors on the ship while trying to escape they were spotted so the zombies gave chase even jumping into the ocean

      • usually there is always one person that thinks they can hide and would have went inside. and IF someone did survive they would have most likly wrote a note for whoever found the ship and then jump over board due to the mental strain that seeing something like that would have on a person. if they didnt survive there would be blood or some kind of evidence, at the least a blood stain on the floor or something.

      • there was infact red stains found on the deck but no one was sure if it was blood or wine

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