A WHOI summer student fellow, holding one of the deepest sea cucumbers ever found, recovered from the Mariana Trench. Stunning to think of this little echinoderm living 9,000-11,000m down with pressures of 16,000psi or more. Image copyright WHOI.
The deep exploration buzz online lately has justifiably been about the hopefully avoidable, premature retirement of the JSL manned subs – read up on the issue at Deep Sea News, then SIGN UP to try and save them – but there is another vehicle out there right now that deserves some praise: Nereus.
Out of Woods Hole, Nereus is an ROV designed from the ground up to go to the absolute depths of the oceans. On the 31st of May, it went all the way to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the oceans at 10,902m. Nereus is now the only currently operating vehicle to explore the Mariana Trench and only the third in history to have done so: the manned Trieste in 1960 and the ROV Kaiko in 1995-1998. Read more about the technological hurdles involved in designing and building Nereus, along with it's maiden voyage to the bottom of the seas. The very bottom.