The depths of the sea are a dark and mysterious place where little to no light reaches. Rumors have long abounded about what lies down there. There are stories about shipwrecks full of gold, giant monsters, and even ancient civilizations. However, the general belief was that the deep sea is a barren desert where no life could exist due to the harsh environment.
It is challenging to picture depth in a meaningful way, thanks to the massive scale of it. Challenger Deep, located in the Mariana Trench, is the deepest point on the planet at 10,994 meters deep. In comparison, Mount Everest, at 8,848 meters tall could fit inside it with plenty of room to spare. The world’s deepest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal is a mere puddle alongside them at 1,642m.
Life faces many challenges to survive here. Due to the depth, sea creatures here face pressures of up to 1,100 atmospheres, equivalent to a 1-ton weight on the end of a finger. It is also frigid and dark with no surface light being able to reach there. Despite this, dives at Challenger deep reveal that life still exists down there. There are amphipods, which look like massive albino woodlice and foraminiferas who create their shells out of protein, organic polymers and sand. On the most recent dive in 2010, a new species of snailfish was seen, but it is such a recent discovery that not much is known about it. The current theory is that these organisms survive on dead marine organisms which float down from the surface, the most substantial being a dead whale.