Image credit: BBC News

Life Exists, Even Under Extreme Pressure

Bevin Niemann-Cortez

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Recently, my partner and I sat down to watch a documentary about the Marianas Trench. According to Wikipedia, “The Marianas Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean about 200 kilometers or 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands; it is the deepest oceanic trench on Earth.

The maximum known depth is 10,984 meters (or 6.825 miles) at the southern end of a small slot-shaped valley in its floor. However, unrepeated measurements place the deepest portion at 11,034 meters.

If Mount Everest were hypothetically placed into the trench at this point, its peak would still be underwater by more than 1.2 miles.”

Wow. As you can imagine, the pressure at the bottom of the trench is immense. Humans, with all our technological advances, still cannot travel there, as our bodies would implode.

A group of Japanese scientists were curious — can life exist in such a dark, dense place? They developed state-of-the-art submersibles and cameras and lowered them into the deepest part of the trench to find out.

What they discovered was an inky black world teeming with life. Arthropods, which look like giant shrimp, came to feed on bait attached to the side of the submersible. Over time, even more came. Which eventually lured in larger fish, some with translucent bodies (you could see their muscles, organs, and brains from the outside), eels with giant teeth and jellyfish offering a phosphorescent light show.

Yes, there is a thriving ecosystem, even under all that pressure, a place where it seems nothing could survive.

This reminded me of other documentaries I’ve watched about how some aquatic creatures live on the rim of underwater volcanoes. In water so hot it’s beyond boiling, they swim, eat, and reproduce as if oblivious to the extreme temperatures.

In addition, many scientists believe we will soon discover life on other planetary bodies, in outer space. Strange organisms adapted to low to zero atmospheres, extreme temperatures, and an atmospheric chemical mix that humans cannot breathe.

You see, life is abundant throughout the Universe. Humans are but one in a vast array of adaptable species, some of…

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Bevin Niemann-Cortez

Social-Emotional Healer | Sacred Space Designer | Budding Herbalist