In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the bathyscaphe Trieste, reaching a depth of 10,912 meters (35,797 ft)–a world record that stands today. This was the first time humans had ever reached the deepest point in the ocean.
While Piccard and Walsh were able to spend only about 20 minutes at the bottom of the trench before having to begin their ascent, modern technology has allowed for much longer dives. In 2012, Swiss engineer and diver Bertrand Piccard completed a dive to 10,898 meters (35,787 ft) in his submersible vessel Deepsea Challenger–just 14 meters (46 ft) shy of the Mariana Trench’s deepest point.
And in 2019, American explorer Victor Vescovo broke Piccard’s record, descending to 10,928 meters (35,853 ft) in his submarine Limiting Factor. This makes Vescovo the first person to have completed solo dives to the Challenger Deep on multiple occasions.
The Deepest scuba dive is a life’s work
While these depths may seem unfathomable to most of us, there are a handful of people who have made it their life’s work to push the boundaries of human exploration–both above and below the surface of the Earth. So, what drives these individuals to risk everything for a chance to explore the unknown?
For some, it is simply a passion for adventure. For others, it is a desire to push the limits of human achievement. But for all of them, it is a chance to see firsthand what lies beyond our everyday experience.
Challenges and the preparation for the deepest scuba dive
Diving to such great depths comes with a number of challenges, both physical and psychological. The most obvious is the increased risk of decompression sickness, or “the bends.” This condition occurs when dissolved gases–mainly nitrogen–form bubbles in the blood and tissues, causing pain, paralysis, and even death.
To avoid decompression sickness, divers must carefully control their ascent rate to allow their bodies time to adjust to the changing pressure. This can be a difficult task, especially when dealing with the extreme pressures found in the Mariana Trench.
Another challenge is simply staying alive at such depths. The water pressure is so great that it can crush a human body like a grape–a fact that was tragically demonstrated when Swiss Navy lieutenant Claus Robert died during a test dive in the Trieste in 1962.
Reason for Deepest scuba dive
To counter this risk, modern submersibles are designed to withstand immense pressures and have fail-safe systems that will bring them back to the surface if something goes wrong. But even with these safety precautions, diving to such depths is still an incredibly risky proposition. So, why do it?
For some, the answer is simple: because it’s there. Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, has been climbed by more than 4,000 people. But only a handful of individuals have ever ventured to the bottom of the Mariana Trench–a place that is, in many ways, just as hostile and inhospitable as the summit of Everest.
For others, the motivation is more personal. Victor Vescovo, for example, undertook his record-breaking dives as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness about ocean conservation.
“I want people to understand that these places are real,” he said in an interview with National Geographic. “The oceans are our life support system–they produce most of the oxygen we breathe and play a critical role in regulating our climate. We need to do a better job of taking care of them.”
And for some, the motivation is simply a love of adventure. As Bertrand Piccard put it: “I want to show that there are still places on Earth that have not been explored, that there are still challenges for human beings to overcome.”
Whether driven by a desire for adventure, a passion for ocean conservation, or something else entirely, these individuals have pushed the boundaries of human achievement–and in doing so, have inspired the rest of us to dream big and think beyond the everyday.
So, what will you do to push the boundaries of your own personal exploration? The possibilities are endless. Thank you for reading this article. I hope you had enough to read and know about the deepest scuba dive.