99% Invisible: Bathysphere | KALW

99% Invisible: Bathysphere

Feb 5, 2016

On the February 5, 2016 edition of 99% Invisible.

In 1860, a chance find at sea forever changed our understanding of marine habitats, sparking an unprecedented push to explore a new world of possibilities far below the surface of our planet’s oceans. Deep sea life, previously thought possible down to a maximum depth of 1,800 feet, was found in the form of creatures attached to a transatlantic telegraph cable.

Raised for repair from its resting place some 6,000 feet down on the ocean floor, the line was covered with marine species. This paradigm-shifting revelation sparked the public’s imagination, fueled global scientific research and propelled the eventual development of new submarine vessels, including the record-breaking Bathysphere.

In the years following the telegraph cable find, subsequent attempts were made by surface vessels, including a global deployment of the H.M.S. Challenger, to net additional creatures from the deep. Many of these specimens could not, however, physically withstand the change in pressure, effectively exploding as they were raised [...]