Sea Pigs and Acorn Worms: What Lurks at the Bottom of the Mariana Trench

Posted: April 15, 2013  |  By: Jennifer Frazer [Salon]

The deepest, darkest, scariest place on the maps I loved pondering as a child was a crescent-shaped canyon in the western Pacific Ocean.

It was called the Mariana Trench, and at the very, very bottom was the lowest point on Earth’s surface, the Challenger Deep. Its floor was seven terrifying miles down.

What was down there? It was fun to imagine. I didn’t know, and it didn’t seem likely anyone would anytime soon.

In 1989, James Cameron had fun imagining what might be at the bottom of a similar canyon when he made the “The Abyss”, which imagined quite a lot at the bottom of an unspecified Caribbean trench. Eleven-year-old me loved it.

Then, last year, he answered the question for himself.

In February and March, he descended to the bottom of both the New Britain and Mariana Trenches, lights and 3-D Hi-Def cameras blazing, in a slender, lime-green sub called the Deepsea Challenger. He also dropped several autonomous landers built on similar design.

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