10 Strange Animals in the Mariana Trench

10 Strange Animals in the Mariana Trench

The Mariana Trench is in the western Pacific Ocean, around 200 kilometers, or 124 miles, from the Mariana Islands. The trench is the deepest point in the worlds’ oceans.

The Mariana Trench reaches 1,580 miles and 2,550 kilometers and a maximum width of 69 kilometers or 43 miles. The maximum known depth is 10,984 meters or 36,037 feet. The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is incredible, more than 1,071 times the normal atmospheric pressure at sea level. Living in this excellent habitat are some of the world’s most exciting and surprising animals. Explore a few of them in this https://cedointercultural.org/‘s article below.

10 Strange Animals in the Mariana Trench

Dumbo Octopus

The deepest known living octopus

The dumbo octopus, also known as grimpotheuthis, is a genus of pelagic umbrella octopuses. The name originates from the creature’s resemblance to the character Dumbo from the 1941 Disney film of the same name. The Dumbo octopus was first discovered around 1883, but the first specimen was not seen until the 1990s after the first deep-sea submersible vessels were invented.

The dumbo octopus is small compared to other octopods, averaging between 20 and 30 centimeters. The octopus’s gelatinous body allows it to exist at the highly pressured depths it prefers. Extreme pressure keeps its body together, and if brought to the surface, its body would not be able to work correctly.

Angler Fish

It has a bright lure on the end of its head to lure prey

The angler fish is a well-known marine creature thanks to the success of the film Finding Nemo. It’s a reasonably famous creature that’s quite distinctive due to the light protruding from its head. It has an unusually shaped body and sharp teeth. The females usually grow to around 8 inches long, and the males to only an inch in length. The males fuse themselves with the females, turning two individuals into one.

Frilled Shark

Species is more than 80 million years old

The frilled shark was discovered in the 19th century by German ichthyologist Ludwig H.P. Döderlein. It is often referred to as a “living fossil” due to its eery appearance and the shape of its mouth.

The shark has an eel-like body that’s dark brown to grey in color and amphistyly, referring to the articulation of the jaws to the head. Their teeth are widely spaced between 19 and 28 in the upper jaw and 21 to 29 in the lower jaw.

They live near the ocean floor, such as in and around the Mariana Trench, and near biologically productive areas.

Goblin Shark

Still unclear what the unusual snout is for

The goblin shark is a rare species of shark. Its unusual and “creepy” appearance is often described as fossil-like (similar to the frilled shark). It has pink-toned skin and a distinctive snout shape. It is elongated and flat with a protruding jaw and skinny, incredibly sharp teeth.

They can grow to be around 10-13 feet in length and are rarely seen by human beings. This is mostly due to the fact that they live so deep in the ocean, around 100 meters or 330 feet.

Telescope Octopus

A transparent octopus with tubular eyes

The telescope octopus is a transparent, eight-armed octopus that is almost entirely colorless. Their arms are the same size, and they are the only octopus to have tubular eyes. It is incredibly unusual to observe and was originally documented by Dr. William Evans Hoyle in 1885. The octopus is a rare species, meaning there is little that scientists, and the general public, know about the marine creature. But it’s believed to be a close relative of the glass octopus.

Zombie Worms

Target the fat that is inside the bone to eat

Zombie worms, also known as Osedax, are a type of deep-sea siboglinid polychaetes. The word “Osedax” means “bone-eater” in Latin and refers to the worm’s ability to bore into and eat bones from whale carcasses. They do so in an attempt to reach lipids enclosed inside the bone. They use special root tissues for bone boring.

Barreleye Fish

It has a transparent skull to see potential predators above it

The Barreleye Fish is another interesting deep-sea creature. They are also sometimes known as spook fish and are found in the temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The fish are named for the shape of their eyes, which look like tubes or barrels. They are directed upwards in order to allow the fish to detect prey more easily.

Deep-sea Dragonfish

A very small deep-sea apex predator

The Deep-sea Dragonfish, also known as the scaleless dragonfish, is a deep-sea predator. It, like the angler fish, produces its own light. They have large teeth, especially compared to their size. The fish are only six inches long, but they have a dragon-like feature that makes them appear as a vicious predator. It creates its light through a process known as bioluminescence. The light is created through the animal’s photophore. The fish uses it to attract prey and potential mates.

Sea Cucumber

Make up the vast majority of sea life on the deep-sea floor, and breathe through their anus

The sea cucumber is a small echinoderm from the class Holothuroidea. They are marina animals with leather-textured skin. Their bodies are long and found on the seafloor around the world. There are around 1,700 species of holothurian around the world, but most are concentrated around the Asian Pacific region. Some of these live in the depths of the Mariana Trench.

They are named for their shape, which clearly resembles a cucumber. Sometimes, sea cucumbers are gathered for human consumption, but they play an important role in marine ecosystems. They break down detritus and other matter, cleaning their ecosystems.


An incredibly deep-sea fish that is scaleless would implode if it goes to the surface

Snailfish are an unusual and interesting species that live in the Arctic to Antarctic Oceans. There are more than 410 species of snailfish known to science. But there are other undescribed species. They live in depths ranging from the surface to 26,200 feet or around 8,000 meters. Unfortunately, snailfish are uncommonly studied, and little is known about their lives or habits. They are scaleless, though, with loose skin. Their teeth are small, and they have prominent sensory pores on their heads.


Do any animals live in the Mariana Trench?

Yes, many different animals live in the Mariana Trench. Most of these are rarely seen by human beings and have different, interesting attributes.

Is the Mariana Trench toxic?

Deep in the Mariana Trench, there are still examples of human-caused pollution. For example, scientists have discovered mercury pollution there.

Does Megalodon exist in Mariana Trench?

It is very unlikely that Megalodon still exists. But, if it did, it would live in the upper part of the water over the trench rather than in its depths.

10 Unbelievable Facts About the Ocean

10 Unbelievable Facts About the Ocean

The climate crisis has given us all a renewed appreciation for our planet’s oceans and the marine life that lives beneath the water’s surface, as well as ocean conservation projects led by initiatives like https://cedointercultural.org/. These 10 unbelievable ocean facts illustrate just how important these initiatives are.

10 Unbelievable Facts About the Ocean

1. Our oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface.

With so much of the Earth’s surface taken up by ocean, it’s evident how vital these marine environments are to the planet, and how much there still is to be explored.

2. The majority of life on Earth is aquatic.

As so much of the Earth’s surface is underwater, it comes as no surprise that marine species outnumber those on land. But, it’s an incredible 94 per cent of the Earth’s living species that exist within the oceans.

3. Less than five per cent of the planet’s oceans have been explored.

According to the Ocean Service, man has explored less than five per cent of Earth’s oceans. As researchers strive to discover more, we’re continually getting to know our oceans better.

4. The world’s longest mountain chain is underwater.

Earth’s longest chain of mountains, the Mid-Ocean Ridge, is almost entirely beneath the ocean, stretching across a distance of 65,000 kilometres. It’s said that this mountain chain is less explored than the surface of Venus or Mars.

5. There are more historic artefacts under the sea than in all of the world’s museums.

Around 1,000 shipwrecks lie off the Florida Keys alone, some of which are within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Other underwater museums have been created in recent years, including the Mediterranean’s submerged bronze statue, Christ of the Abyss.

6. We still only know a fraction of the marine species in our oceans.

According to the World Register of Marine Species there are now 240,470 accepted species, but this is believed to be just a small proportion of the species that exist, with new marine life being discovered everyday.

7. Over 70 per cent of our planet’s oxygen is produced by the ocean.

It’s thought that between 70 and 80 per cent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants, nearly all of which are marine algae.

8. It’s possible to find rivers and lakes beneath the ocean.

When salt water and hydrogen sulfide combine, it becomes denser than the rest of the water around it, enabling it to form a lake or river that flows beneath the sea.

9. Around 50 per cent of the US lies beneath the ocean.

Not only does a large part of the planet exist beneath the ocean, so does the United States – around 50 per cent, in fact.

10. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean and contains around 25,000 islands.

With 25,000 islands lying within it, the Pacific Ocean has more islands than anywhere else on the planet.



While thousands of climbers have successfully scaled Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, only two people have descended to the planet’s deepest point, the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

Located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines and an average of approximately 124 miles (200 kilometers) east of the Mariana Islands, the Mariana Trench is a crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust that measures more than 1,500 miles (2,550 kilometers) long and 43 miles (69 kilometers) wide on average. The distance between the surface of the ocean and the trench’s deepest point—the Challenger Deep, which lies about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of the U.S. territory of Guam—is nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers). If Mount Everest were dropped into the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) underwater.

The Mariana Trench is part of a global network of deep troughs that cut across the ocean floor. They form when two tectonic plates collide. At the collision point, one of the plates dives beneath the other into the Earth’s mantle, creating an ocean trench.

The depths of the Mariana Trench were first plumbed in 1875 by the British ship H.M.S. Challenger as part of the first global oceanographic cruise. The Challenger scientists recorded a depth of 4,475 fathoms (about five miles, or eight kilometers) using a weighted sounding rope. In 1951, the British vessel H.M.S. Challenger II returned to the spot with an echo-sounder and measured a depth of nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers).

The majority of the Mariana Trench is now a U.S. protected zone as part of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, established by President George W. Bush in 2009. Permits for research in the monument, including in the Sirena Deep, have been secured from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Permits for research in the Challenger Deep have been secured from the Federated States of Micronesia.



Because of its extreme depth, the Mariana Trench is cloaked in perpetual darkness and the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing. The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is a crushing eight tons per square inch—or about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. Pressure increases with depth.

The first and only time humans descended into the Challenger Deep was more than 50 years ago. In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached this goal in a U.S. Navy submersible, a bathyscaphe called the Trieste. After a five-hour descent, the pair spent only a scant 20 minutes at the bottom and were unable to take any photographs due to clouds of silt stirred up by their passage.

Until Piccard and Walsh’s historic dive, scientists had debated whether life could exist under such extreme pressure. But at the bottom, the Trieste‘s floodlight illuminated a creature that Piccard thought was a flatfish, a moment that Piccard would later describe with excitement in a book about his journey.

“Here, in an instant, was the answer that biologists had asked for the decades,” Piccard wrote. “Could life exist in the greatest depths of the ocean? It could!”


While the Trieste expedition laid to rest any doubts that life could exist in the Mariana Trench, scientists still know very little about the types of organisms that reside there. In fact, some question whether Piccard’s fish was actually a form of sea cucumber. It is thought that the pressure is so great that calcium can’t exist except in solution, so the bones of vertebrates would literally dissolve. No bones, no fish. But nature has also proven scientists wrong many times in the past with its remarkable capacity for adaptation. So are there fish that deep? Nobody knows, and this is the whole point of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE project, to find answers to such fundamental questions in this website https://cedointercultural.org/.

In recent years, deep-ocean dredges and unmanned subs have glimpsed exotic organisms such as shrimp-like amphipods, and strange, translucent animals called holothurians. But scientists say there are many new species awaiting discovery and many unanswered questions about how animals can survive in these extreme conditions. Scientists are particularly interested in microorganisms living in the trenches, which they say could lead to breakthroughs in biomedicine and biotechnology.

The Mariana Trench’s microscopic inhabitants might even shed light on the emergence of life on Earth. Some researchers, such as Patricia Fryer et alat University of Hawaii, have speculated that serpentine mud volcanoes located near ocean trenches might have provided the right conditions for our planet’s first life-forms. Additionally, studying rocks from ocean trenches could lead to a better understanding of the earthquakes that create the powerful and devastating tsunamis seen around the Pacific Rim, geologists say.

6 incredible facts about the Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth

6 incredible facts about the Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth

Just as Earth’s land surface has enormous peaks and valleys, the oceanic world has similarly varied topography.

Perhaps the most intriguing of these features is the Mariana Trench — a chasm in the western Pacific Ocean that spans more than 1,580 miles (2,540 kilometers) and is home to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth’s surface that plunges more than 36,000 feet (about 11,000 meters) underwater.

That’s nearly three times deeper than the site https://cedointercultural.org/ where the wreckage of the RMS Titanic lies in the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

6 incredible facts about the Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth

Here are some fascinating facts about this deep-sea phenomenon.

1. ‘Titanic’ director James Cameron is one of the few people who have visited

Few human expeditions have ventured to the Challenger Deep.

The first came in 1960 with the historic dive of the Trieste bathyscaphe, a type of free-diving submersible. During the dive, passengers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh said they were stunned to see living creatures where scientists once imagined it was impossible for anything to survive.

“Right away, all of our preconceptions about the ocean were blown out the window,” Dr. Gene Feldman, an oceanographer emeritus at NASA, previously told CNN. He spent more than 30 years at the space agency.

James Cameron, director of the 1997 film “Titanic,” was the next deep-sea explorer to follow. He piloted a submersible — one that he personally had helped design — to about 35,787 feet (10,908 meters), setting a world record in 2012.

2. A plastic bag was found in the trench

Another explorer who returned to the site was Victor Vescovo, a Texas investor who journeyed 35,853 feet (10,927 meters) down and claimed a world record in 2019.

Vescovo gave depressing insight into humankind’s impact on these seemingly untouchable remote locations when he observed a plastic bag and candy wrappers at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

A handful of explorers have trekked to the Challenger Deep since then, but the expeditions are not common — and the journey is extremely dangerous.

For every 33 feet (10 meters) traveled beneath the ocean’s surface, the pressure on an object increases by one atmosphere, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An atmosphere is a unit of measure that’s 14.7 pounds per square inch. A trip to the Challenger Deep can put a vessel under pressure that is “equivalent to 50 jumbo jets,” Feldman noted.

3. It lies in the hadal zone, named for the god of the underworld

Much like the Earth’s atmosphere, the ocean can be described in terms of layers.

The uppermost portion is called the epipelagic zone, or the sunlight zone, and extends just 660 feet (200 meters) below the water’s surface, according to NOAA.

The mesopelagic zone, or the so-called twilight zone, stretches from the end of the sunlight zone to about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).

Then there’s the bathypelagic zone, also called the midnight zone, and, beneath that, the abyssopelagic zone — as in, the abyssal zone — that extends from 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) to 19,700 feet (6,000 meters). That’s nearly 4 miles underwater. Within the abyssal zone, few life-forms can survive, the water is completely devoid of light, and temperatures are near freezing.

But the Challenger Deep lies even further — in the hadalpelagic zone, or the hadal zone. It’s named for Hades, the Greek god of the underworld thought to rule over the dead.

4. It’s home to unique aquatic life and mud volcanoes

The hadal zone is one of the least explored habitats on Earth. At bone-crushing depths with no sunlight, it was long thought that nothing could survive there.

But that belief has been dispelled.

“Even at the very bottom, life exists. In 2005, tiny single-celled organisms called foraminifera, a type of plankton, were discovered in the Challenger Deep,” according to NOAA.

Discoveries at the Challenger Deep have included colorful rocky outcrops and bottom-dwelling sea cucumbers.

A series of undersea mud volcanoes and hydrothermal vents in the Mariana Trench also support unusual life-forms, according to NOAA. Despite the highly acidic and infernally hot water produced by hydrothermal vents in mud volcanoes, exotic species and microscopic organisms there are able to survive.

In the absence of sunlight, the creatures instead benefit from the nutrient-rich waters belched out from hydrothermal vents. The life-supporting medium results from chemical reactions between the seawater and magma rising from beneath the ocean floor.

5. The Mariana Trench was designated as a US national monument in 2009

The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was established in 2009, in part to protect the rare organisms that thrive within its depths.

Objects of interest include the submerged ecosystem and its life-forms, such as deep-sea shrimp and crabs, and — higher up in the water column — stony coral reefs.

“A great diversity of seamount and hydrothermal vent life (is) worth preservation,” according to NOAA.

The entire national monument protects about 95,000 square miles (246,049 square kilometers).

6. It’s difficult to know just how deep the trench goes

The ocean floor remains one of the most mysterious places in the universe.

In fact, “we have better maps of the moon and Mars than we do of our own planet,” Feldman previously told CNN.

Though people have been exploring the ocean’s surface for tens of thousands of years, only about 20% of the seafloor has been mapped, according to 2022 figures from NOAA.

Given high interest in the Mariana Trench, however, researchers have made several efforts to give increasingly detailed pictures of its features. But that’s not easy: Due to the vastness and deepness of the bottommost ocean zone, scientists must rely on sonar, or acoustic, technology to attempt to give a full picture of what’s below.

Because instrumentation and technology are constantly improving, the estimated depth of the Challenger Deep has been updated as recently as 2021 to about 35,876 feet (10,935 meters).

What Lives at The Bottom of The Mariana Trench?

What Lives at The Bottom of The Mariana Trench?

Imagine a mountain taller than Mount Everest. Or a canyon fives times larger than the Grand Canyon. Now, picture it in the deepest part of the ocean in a place untouched by humankind. That is the Mariana Trench. Could anything live in such a place? And if so, what kind of Mariana Trench animals are you likely to find?

Discover what lives at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, including how it formed and exciting facts that most people don’t know about this mysterious place. Lets found them here in https://cedointercultural.org/‘s article.

What is the Mariana Trench?

A trench is a long, deep depression on the ocean floor that typically runs parallel to a plate boundary. The Mariana Trench, or Marianas Trench, is in the western Pacific Ocean about 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands. The Mariana Trench is the deepest oceanic trench on earth.

This scar-shaped trough has a maximum depth of 36,037 feet, almost seven miles. The deepest part of the ocean known to man is at the southern end of the trench, the Challenger Deep, with a depth of 36,201 feet (unrepeated measurements). To date, there have only been 12 dives into the Mariana Trench, totaling 22 people.

While the water at this depth is frigid, around 34° to 39° Fahrenheit, the intense pressure is what makes this area so dangerous. The pressure is 1,000 times higher than the standard sea-level atmospheric pressure.

How did this cryptic, dark trench form, and what perplexing creatures live inside?

What Lives at The Bottom of The Mariana Trench?

How Did the Mariana Trench Form?

The seafloor of the western Pacific is 180 million years old, some of the oldest in the world. This ancient crust contains thin plates that float on molten rock (mantle). Sometimes these plates crash into each other, which causes one plate to plunge into the mantle while the other rides over the top.

This process is known as subduction, and the movement causes trenches, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis to form. The Mariana Plate and the Pacific Plate are responsible for creating the Mariana Trench, which sits on this subduction zone.

While the process sounds easy enough, subduction at the Mariana Plate has transpired for over 50 million years. The trench is in the shape of an arc, and researchers theorize its formation is due to the Mariana Plate breaking off from the Philippine Plate. The creation of the Mariana microplate (that inevitably collides with the Pacific Plate) is responsible for the Mariana Islands, which consist of active and dormant volcanoes. While this system continues to grow, scientists believe that eventually, the Mariana microplate will dissipate.

What Lives at the Bottom of the Mariana Trench?

Mariana Trench animals include xenophyophores, amphipods, and small sea cucumbers (holothurians) which all dwell at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest depression. Animals living in these depths survive in complete darkness and extreme pressure, consuming chemicals (like methane or sulfur) or those farther down the food chain.

Scientists studied these creatures found on video footage from the James Cameron 2012 expedition. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence to work with due to the extreme dangers of exploring the deep sea. With over 80% of the ocean unexplored, the possibility of new species is immense.


Xenophyophores (“bearer of foreign bodies”) are giant deep sea amoebas among the world’s largest living single-celled organisms. These protozoans live in the deepest parts of the ocean, and not much is known about them because their delicate frames make them hard to collect for research.

These organisms come in various shapes and sizes and can resemble spherical sponges, frilly sponges, tetrahedra (four-sided figures), or flattened discs. Xenophyophores are essentially lumps of cytoplasm, a viscous fluid containing nuclei.

They secrete glue-like strings of their fecal matter that attach to minerals and other objects in the environment like skeletal remains and use it to form an exoskeleton known as a test. Xenophyophores move along the sea floor like slugs and have no known predators.


Amphipods are small crustaceans found all over the ocean, but one species, in particular, inhabits this deep sea trench. The Hirondellea Gigas is a shrimp-like creature, around two inches in length, that eats fallen wood on the sea floor. These creatures can go without food for a long time but will eat almost anything and gorge themselves to the point of bursting.

These amphipods produce a wood-eating enzyme in their gut that scientists believe can be used to make ethanol. Ethanol helps manufacture drugs, plastics, and cosmetics.


Holothurians are a new species of luminous sea cucumber. And while these squishy creatures resemble a vegetable, they are actually animals closely related to starfish and urchins. Sea cucumbers are peculiar organisms with an unusual defense mechanism. When threatened, the sea cucumber contracts its muscles and forces its internal organs out of its anus.

The cucumbers observed in the deep trenches of the earth are a bright violet color and transparent. The most famous deep sea cucumber is nicknamed the “the headless chicken monster.” It may sound terrifying but watching this unusual species move through water looks like a strange yet graceful water ballet.

Mariana Snailfish

The Mariana Hadal Snailfish is the deepest fish species ever recovered from the Mariana Trench. Researchers caught this record-breaking fish 27,460 feet below sea level, and scientists theorize the maximum depth possible for fish is 27,900 feet. This species of snailfish adapted to live in extreme pressure and complete darkness. Its skin is transparent, it doesn’t have sight, and it is one of the top predators in the Mariana Trench.

Interesting Facts About the Mariana Trench

  • In 1960, Don Walsh (US Army Lieutenant) and Jacques Piccard (engineer) were the first people to descend into the depths of the Mariana Trench.
  • The United States controls the deepest part of the trench, the Challenger Deep, and dedicated it as a national monument.
  • If you put Mount Everest (the tallest mountain in the world) inside the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be 7,000 feet below sea level.
  • The Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth, has extraordinary pollution levels. The levels outpace those found in a heavily polluted Chinese River.
  • Divers inside the trench have recovered plastic bags and candy wrappers. Humans still affect even the most remote places in the world.
  • Researchers recorded strange metallic sounds from the Mariana Trench. After much debate, they concluded the sound was coming from baleen whales.
  • What lives at the bottom of the Mariana Trench? New and unique creatures, plus many more scientists have not discovered!

The Mariana Trench Is 7 Miles Deep: What’s Down There?

The Mariana Trench Is 7 Miles Deep: What's Down There?

The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is so deep your bones would literally dissolve. What’s down there in its black, crushing depths? Keep reading on this https://cedointercultural.org/‘s article to know more about it.

The Trench sits like a crescent-shaped dent in the floor of the Pacific Ocean, extending over 1500 miles long with an average width around 43 miles and a depth of almost 7 miles (or just under 36,201 feet). At that depth, the weight of all that water above makes the pressure in the Trench around 1000 times higher than it would be in, say, Miami or New York. Floor vents release bubbles of liquid sulfur and carbon dioxide. Temperatures are just above freezing, and everything is drowning in darkness.

For comparison, most ocean life lives above a depth of 660 feet. Nuclear submarines hover around 850 feet below the surface as they travel through the ocean waters. Whales aren’t usually seen below about 8,200 feet. The site of Jack and Rose’s true (albeit fictional) love, the sunken Titanic, can be found at 12,467 feet.

The Mariana Trench Is 7 Miles Deep: What's Down There?

According to National Geographic, if you were to put Mount Everest at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, its peak would still sit around 7,000 feet below sea level.

Toward the southern end of the Mariana Trench lies the Challenger Deep. It sits 36,070 feet below sea level, making it the point most distant from the water’s surface and the deepest part of the Trench.

While the number of people that have climbed to the top of Mount Everest, the Earth’s highest point, holds somewhere in the thousands, only 3 divers have ever explored the Challenger Deep. The first expedition happened in 1960 when Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached the Challenger Deep in a U.S. Navy submersible. They were only able to spend 20 minutes there due to the extreme pressures, and their arrival stirred up too much dust from the seafloor for them to take any pictures.

The next visitor didn’t arrive until over 50 years later in 2012, when filmmaker and science fiction aficionado James Cameron solo dived to the Challenger Deep in a submarine he designed himself. Cameron was able to spend three hours there. And, of course, he captured video and took many photos—he is a Hollywood filmmaker, after all.

The extreme pressures took a toll on his equipment, though. Batteries drained, sonar died, and some of his vessel’s thrusters to malfunctioned, making it hard to maneuver.