Source: The Extremo Files
Author: Jeffrey Marlow
The race to the deepest point in the ocean – the Challenger Deep, 10,902* meters beneath the surface – is heating up. National Geographic recently went public with its flashy website tracking James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge effort (some reports characterize his attempt as imminent); Virgin Oceanic is working on its effort to tag the deepest points in all five oceans; and DOER marine is perfecting its blueprints, hoping to build a submersible that remains attractive to scientists long after the benthic silt settles on this renewed “race to the bottom”.
What will this new breed of billionaire adventurers find? What sorts of alien critters might we expect to see in Cameron’s upcoming documentary?
The short answer is that we don’t know. Only four expeditions have ever reached Challenger Deep (others have obtained samples by imprecise surface-based trawling), and there remains a lot of low-hanging fruit for biologists to chomp on, particularly when it comes to describing genetic diversity or potentially useful metabolic products.