When first planning my scuba certification course, I began reading Shadow Divers compliments of a coworker. In my past, I have been offered historical fiction novels to defer me from my adventures (i.e. when planning to ice climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador, my aunt referred me to Into Thin Air), but this time I was to be inspired by the story. This non-fiction historical novel follows the 1991 wreck dives of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler as they uncover the mystery of a sunken German U-boat 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey in the Atlantic Ocean. At depths greater than 200 feet, the team of divers overcame many of the ocean's obstacles, and unpredictable events led to tragic circumstances. I was then befuddled by the intensity of the ocean--its merciless course. The currents and pressure at various depths alone can provide life-threatening situations. Since beginning this book, becoming PADI Open Water Certified, and going on a few dives, I now appreciate the majestic and mind-boggling nature of the ocean.
I often find myself thinking about the world above and below me. I (think I) know the universe is forever expansive and perhaps infinite. However, there are some facts about the ocean that can be equally (if not more) mind-blowing as the universe's mysterious properties. After just having a discussion about the ocean's mysterious nature last week and marveling at (and avoiding) jellyfish in the ocean this past weekend, I stumbled upon the following article (Click the photo for a link to the full article). As I read these thirteen facts, I thought to myself: How can we possibly think we know more about the ocean or the universe? How can we compare the two?
2. The deepest point could keep Mount Everest underwater. Challenger Deep is seven miles underwater. Woah. (But wait--the universe is infinite? How do you compare!)
3. Most marine life is still unidentified. We have identified one-third of the possible 700,000 ocean creatures. I know, I know--what about aliens? Yes, I am sure they're out there. But, when you read the next fact you might be a little more fearful of ocean creatures...
4. There are immortal jellyfish down there. Tell me no more, please. I am genuinely scared of jellyfish. Seriously? Jellyfish that can "physically revert to an earlier stage of development" when they are at risk of dying? STOP. Also, what about creatures like this guy in Finding Nemo? Freaky stuff.
6. It's home to beings that are practically aliens. I still want to know more about these immortal jellyfish. And these water bears called Tardigrade. Not so cute when you realize this little guy can survive in the most extreme temperatures and pressures, eh?
8. About 80% of all life on Earth is found in the oceans. Hah! And you thought humans ruled the Earth. We need to be real here--we don't run the world. Unless you count the mermaids...
9. The ocean itself might actually be alive. Oh gosh. If we all have a metabolism and therefore we are living organisms, then what is the ocean? And thank you, ocean, for recycling!
11. The ocean is the world's best museum. The Titanic and other shipwrecks, underwater cities?, and thousands of artifacts.
12. It's also the world's biggest human cemetery. Because it is relentless and merciless.
13. Humans might have been born from the ocean. This is an interesting theory I don't entirely buy into, but enjoy exploring. To a certain extent, bacteria and simple prokaryotic (single-cell) microorganisms may be the origin of today's human genomes (DNA). The bacterial chemical processes (AKA chemosythesis) may have allowed these organisms to survive volcanic eruptions, meteor showers, asteroids, and early Earthly phenomena. I guess we can never truly know if our origins lay in the water, air, or hands of God. You can argue any way you please, but I urge you to look at other theories with curiosity and doubt.
Expand your horizons, just as the ocean and universe expand...