In the early 1960’s the first deep water exploration vessel the Trieste was lowered into the deepest trench on the ocean floors of the world, the “Challenger Deep”. This is the deepest point of the Marianas Trench near the island group of the same name. In the Atlantic Ocean we also have a number of deep canyons on the sea floor as well but not as deep as the Marians Trench. At more than 37,000 feet this kind of pressure would cause any submersible vessel, submarine, or bathysphere to implode, but the Trieste. With a duo hull system and an inner ballast of gasoline as it will compress to conform with the tremendous forces the Trieste would be enduring. Remember at just 1000 feet depth lead pipe will crush!
The two manned crew patiently waited the more than hour descent into the deepest and what was thought the most inhospitable place on earth where cold, extreme pressure, and darkness would seem to discourage life. However, they were wrong. Once the flood lights were shined upon the bottom of this abysmal environment they found shrimp, crustaceans, and bizarre fish that used bio-luminescence to not only see but to attract prey. The findings in the Challenger Deep completely surprised the bio-oceanic scientists.
The heroic fighting ship
Fast forward to the present with the newer versions of the deep water explorer vessels with even better visibility. What would you expect to find down there now? It was amazing and shocking all art the same time. A recent voyage to the bottom of the trench made some bizarre discoveries. They came upon the USS Johnston, an escort class destroyer tasked with the protection of a number of troop transports and “Escort” carriers nicknamed “Jeeps”. These small and poorly armored aircraft carriers were not designed for entering battle but for the storage and repair of aircraft to be transported back to battle class aircraft carriers poised for combat. The USS Johnston fought valiantly against overwhelming odds to keep several Japanese Battleships and heavy cruisers from destroying their small fleet and defeating the landing of troops on the Philippine Islands.
Last stand at Sea
Though she was out manned and outgunned by her larger Japanese opponents, she reportedly fought like a much larger ship and inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese fleet. The USS Johnston was part of 5 smaller and obsolete “Escort” class destroyers who dared to make a full speed torpedo run on a massively superior task force of Japanese ships causing them confusion and damage even though the Americans absorbed a great loss of life and its small force of aging destroyers. As it turned out with victory at hand but paying a terrible price for it, the Japanese Admiral in charge decided to regroup and withdraw. This saved the remaining Escort Carriers and damaged destroyers and allowed the troop transports to make successful landings during the Battle of Samar in the heart of the larger Battle of the Leyte Gulf in 1944. Here it was lying on the floor of the Mariana Trench.
A live swimming dinosaur?
If this wasn’t enough an even more amazing find was made. One member of the crew was taking instrument readings when he glanced out the observation window to see a gigantic eye staring at him! At first he didn’t know or recognize what he was looking at until it became clear he was watching a gigantic White Shark! The crew measured it at an amazing 60 feet in length! The largest known Great White on the open seas had been measured at 22 feet in length though due to even larger fossil teeth there was evidence of an ancient predecessor of the modern day Great Whites during the time of the dinosaurs and that was the Megalodon, a prehistoric monster over 50 feet and perhaps twice that in length when full grown. There have been sightings but never sufficient evidence to satisfy scientists of its existence! It was thought to be extinct millions of years ago.
More unknown species?
The wonders of the deep oceans of the world still largely elude science. For instance, there are an estimated 91% of species still unknown that swim in the deep and dark waters of the sea. We just can’t get to them. Sea monsters? The Kraken? Giant squid? Who knows, but they are possible with plausible evidence that has not yet been verified. Many bizarre species have been brought to the surface from the deep waters such as the Angler Fish that has a lighted tentacle that hangs in front of its mouth as a lure for prey. Many of these fish will actually burst when brought to the surface due to the differentiation in outer pressure. Many times what appear to be fantastic stories or folklore are eventually proven by science.