Ever since the dawn of the humankind, we have been closely tied to the water. First civilizations sprung up at the riverbeds and deltas of great rivers like Nile, Indus, and Yellow river, where they could grow crops in the fertile soil, and use the rivers to transport goods via rafts and boats.
With time, our focus shifted and we looked on to the horizon across the vast blue of our oceans. The same oceans that are responsible for our planet’s very appropriate nickname:
The blue planet.
The five Earth oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian and Southern ocean) are interconnected and form a huge body of water we call the World Ocean, which contains around 97% of all water on Earth (that is almost 1.332 billion cubic kilometers or 351†quintillion†US gallons), and it houses almost 90% of our biosphere.
Us and the Oceans
The first time we managed to conquer these vast obstacles was over a thousand years ago, when brave Icelandic Vikings, led by Leif Erikson, landed in North America. However, the first true trans-oceanic voyages were made by Spaniards and Portuguese in 15th century, of which the most well-known are the expeditions by Columbus, Magellan, and the Italian Amerigo Vespucci, who first realized that the Americas were separate continents, with no relation to Asia, and hence they carry his name.
Nowadays, we can cross oceans with relative ease and comfort. There are thousands of ships criss-crossing over, carrying passengers and huge cargo loads alike. We have mapped every single inch of the ocean surface, but our age of discovery is not really finished:
We have mapped and explored less than 5% of the ocean depths. In fact, we have covered and explored more of the Moon and Mars surface, than the area of the ocean floor on Earth. What seems to be the problem?
The biggest issue that modern divers and submarines face is the pressure. The deepest point in the ocean is the Mariana Trench, which is more than 10 kilometers deep with pressure a 1000 times greater than the standard atmospheric pressure we experience on the surface (the pressure rises by one atmosphere per 10 meters in water). Only three humans have ever reached the Challenger deep in Mariana Trench, the last of which was James Cameron, the Hollywood director.
Nowadays, we can dive deeper and longer than ever before, with amazing individuals breaking records almost every year. The extreme divers like Ahmed Gabr and Herbert Nitsch have managed to reach depths that even our WW2 submarines couldn’t reach!
If you would like to know more about the history of diving and the most amazing diving feats, check out the awesome infographic made by he The Daily Research. It shows how deep the oceans are, but it ties it to our diving efforts and exploits, so it gives us a better sense of scale.
There’s a lot of cool and interesting information you can learn from it, whether you need it for a school project or if you just want to share it with your friends!