Inside the First Deep Sea Dive Ever | Chemistry

Lady of the Deck deep water zone

Sea ball on deck Preparationfrom 1930 to 1934 Abyssal zone and non-Thatch
Reproduced with permission of Wildlife Conservation Society/Wildlife Conservation Society Archives

On the morning of June 11, 1930, the barge Preparationnamed after the staff of Tropical Research Department, floating off the coast of Nonsuch Island in Bermuda. A huge winch lifted the ball off the deck, and men in white sailor caps and overalls gathered around a 4.5-foot-tall steel ball called the submarine ball. The men stabilized the ball as it rolled outwards and hung above the surface of the water. Facing the front, he had three holes tightly packed together like eyes. Hanging from the cable and swinging, it was like looking down at the rippling water.

This deep-sea zone will be the first submarine to lead mankind into the deep sea. The plan was to repeatedly drop it to the same place while observing the water column directly below, and then descend steadily. What kind of creatures lived there? how many numbers? Do populations decline as they move deeper? The ocean was so vast and unknown that any insight would be a revolutionary expansion of biological knowledge.

DTR scientist Gloria Hollister observed the winchman lowering the steel ball into the sea. When the spray fell and disappeared, she sat down, picked up the canvas-bound notebook that chronicled her expedition, and prepared her.

The photo shows her looking focused with a phone receiver shaped like an old hunting horn around her neck and a small speaker pressed against her right ear. She kept her chin slightly tucked in as she listened and took back-up notes. Wires from her receiver flowed into the water from the edge of the deck and were attached to a submarine sphere that was now sinking into deep water.

Curled up in a ball, immersed in various tasks, were two skinny men, Otis Burton and William Beebe. They had to be skinny, as the opening to crawl into the seafloor was less than two feet wide. Mr. Burton, who designed the ball and oversaw its manufacture, said the door is waterproof to 400 pounds, features an oxygen tank that provides eight hours of breathable air, and a carton of soda lime that absorbs the carbon dioxide exhaled by the ball. monitored. residents. He checked the phone’s battery and the blower that circulates the air.

deep sea interior

Illustration of the interior of the Abyssal Zone, unsigned, 1930

Reproduced with permission of Wildlife Conservation Society/Wildlife Conservation Society Archives

As it sank, the temperature inside dropped, and water condensed on the top of the ball, dripping down and forming a puddle at the bottom.

The ball was fitted with two 3 inch quartz windows. Originally, there were supposed to be three, but one of them had a defect in the quartz glass, so it was necessary to seal the opening with more steel.

Beebe, an ornithologist and ecologist, curled up as close to a windowpane as possible. Fascinated by the undersea world, he was keenly aware of his position as a witness to what mankind had never seen before. An energetic man with an infectious enthusiasm, he wrote about traveling the world chasing pheasants, climbing the Himalayas, and risking his life to observe erupting volcanoes in the Galapagos. He was already famous for his writing. He was 52 years old, bald and bony, almost knee-bent, and in a thin but stately voice recounted his observations as he descended. He has traveled all over the world but never lost his New Jersey accent. world and bird It came out wilds and Boys.

deep sea book

An extensive philosophical and sensual account of early deep-sea exploration and its afterlife

The winchman unties the cable and the light begins to change as the ball descends further. The warm tones of the earth’s surface were absorbed by the water. At 100 feet, Bebe held up a red color plate to test the spectrum and found it completely black. That warm frequency no longer reached his present depth. I could see fish swimming in the cool green and blue brightness of the water outside. He called out to Hollister what he had seen, and Hollister continued to write down his remarks in his expedition notebook.

The 100 feet red is gone and the color plate is now black.

Rinouche jelly.

200 pilot fish 6 inches long around the bait,

Pure white with eight jet black bands.

250 No reds or yellows are seen in sunlight.more

Jelly, I saw the tail of the pilot fish again.

300 Otis Thor Pilotfish, fish of various colors

It looks white on the surface.

400 salpa 2 strings.

Shrimp looks pure white.

500 A transparent fish where only the bait is visible.

550 Temperature 75 degrees. A large leptocephalus.

There are many Cabolinians. A few Myctofids.

650 A distant flash of light.

800 Quite dark. The meter wheel display is 237.

900 A few small shrimp mists.

Large celibomer.

lights out.

This interaction continued as they descended. The spectral change was that the world outside the steel ball was blue, blue, and nothing else, slowly fading to black, but still bright with a strange brightness that Bee Bee couldn’t put into words. It was left. Their spotlights cast a brooding yellow glow outside the quartz windows, but now at a thousand feet it quickly dimmed.

Dropittis Tentaculatus

painting Dropictis Tentaculatus sp. nElse Bostelmann, 1931

Reproduced with permission of Wildlife Conservation Society/Wildlife Conservation Society Archives

The beam was turned off and the water outside filled with a small explosion. small shrimp. Bebe saw them being netted for their lives. Now, for the first time in their native habitat, he could see the dark depths illuminated by the rapid oxidation of a chemical called luciferase that is produced within their bodies.

When the explosion ended, a strange glow returned, as if there were no more colors in the universe. He read it and was sure he could read it, but when Burton held up the page he didn’t understand a single word. Beebe returned to the circular window and continued observing and speaking, which Hollister on deck recorded all on lined pages on the log.

1050 Blacker than the darkest midnight, yet brighter.

great air. 20 small fish may be Argyropelecus.

1100 long, pale white fish of the family macrollidae with thick mouse tails

There were 6 lights attached to the bend of the hose.

1150 A beam of light is clearly visible – the light is on.

1200 Idiacanthus. Two Astronestes.

1250 5 inch long fish shaped like stomius

3 inch pure white shrimp.

Argyloperex in the rays.

Two bright pale white jellies.

1300 prawns with 6-8 prawns. Light like 50, 100 fireflies.

little squid in the light,

There didn’t seem to be any lights, so I went down for food.

cyclotone. 2 inch shrimp.

The 1350 light is very pale.

Temperature 72. Meter wheel reading 403.

1400 It’s pitch black when looking straight down.

Black as hell.

Then a huge flash of light. Like a strobe light shining out the window. What caused it? Now all he sees are shrimp and jellyfish, but a shape has imprinted on his mind.

It was a fanged, thick eel-like creature. His mouth was wide open, and he saw small jagged teeth like nails through a board, but his mouth was gaping. What horrors and hunger did he see now? A gear slipped in the intensity of reality, and he was briefly thrown into a nightmare of cracking and creaking fluorescent lights. Then it disappeared and he was back on the ball.

There was a familiar swell of jellyfish outside.

A feeling came over him that he had seen enough. He told Hollister to let the crew know it was time to surface. Upon reaching an altitude of 150 feet, the crew could see the ship underwater.

The winchmen dropped the bathysphere onto the ship and loosened the bolts to release the lean men into the afternoon sun. Beebe appeared in the now unfamiliar daylight. He bent his knees and stamped his feet on the deck of his boat. As he gazed out at the low hills of Bermuda in the distance, he realized that something had changed inside him forever. Later he tried to find out what it was. It has something to do with the light he saw.

The yellow of the sun, he wrote, “will never be as good as blue.”

spiny larvae chasing copepods

painting Larvae of thorns chasing copepodsElse Bostelmann, 1930

Reproduced with permission of Wildlife Conservation Society/Wildlife Conservation Society Archives

That summer, the Seabed made 15 dives and almost 40 dives before the expedition ended in 1934, reaching an altitude of 3,028 feet. As the depth of the dive increased, this dive became front page news around the world. The NBC crew arrived at one point for a live deep-sea broadcast.

Over the course of the expedition, the DTR team identified dozens of new species, some of which had only been seen once. Visibility through the quartz window was insufficient for photography, so staff artists such as Else Bostelmann and George Swanson created illustrations based on Bieb’s description. So was Hollister’s description of when he made his own record-setting dive. Often these striking images were the only visual evidence of quirky and never-before-seen creatures, such as the comically grotesque angler named Beebe. Dropitchtis tentacutus.

Bebe recognized the scientific value of the expedition, but also felt that its true transformative effect rested on the presence of bodies in the deep sea. The difficulty, the risks involved, the discomfort of being trapped inside Burton and the ball, all sharpened his sense of contingency and interconnectedness. It made the world more vivid. With the help of Hollister, staff artists, and other teams, he wrote article after article, book after book, while facing doubts about whether any of it could be relocated. Perhaps he will tell you something of what he has seen and felt, and let his imagination, if not our physical bodies, rest for a while in the wonders of the deep sea.

Excerpt from Abyssal Book: Effects of Depth on Glowing Seas, By Brad Fox. Copyright © 2023 by Brad Fox. Used with permission of publisher Astra House.all rights reserved

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