Don Walsh leads virtual anniversary deep descent

archive – Diving NewsDon Walsh leads virtual anniversary deep descent

Today (23 January) is the 57th anniversary of the first descent to the ocean's deepest point. To mark the occasion the surviving explorer, 85-year-old oceanographer Don Walsh, is sharing the experience – by narrating an immersive 360 virtual-reality film based on the historic bathyscaphe dive.

“Journey to the Deep”, produced by marine-research charity Nekton, is accompanied by images from the descent and an interview with Walsh covering the inside story of what he called “‘just one day at the office“. It also contains encounters with deep-sea species and ocean factoids.

On 23 January, 1960, US Navy Captain Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard (who died in 2008) became the first people to descend the seven miles to the deepest point on the seabed – the Challenger Deep section of the Pacific’s Mariana Trench.

The dive, in the Swiss-built US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste, was dubbed Project Nekton and took nearly five hours.

The divers spent 20 minutes in the dark and cold at the bottom before heading back up. 

Their recorded depth of 10,911m has never been exceeded, and Walsh and film director James Cameron, who made the trip in 2012, are the only living humans to have been to full ocean depth.

“After 1960, we turned our eyes towards outer space and Project Nekton was largely forgotten,” says Walsh. “I hope this film encourages people to begin to turn their gaze downwards.

“Today the deep ocean remains the last, great, unknown frontier on our planet. As we consider colonising Mars, we must remember that less than 5% of the ocean has been explored.”

Find out how to watch 360 videos here and watch “Journey to the Deep” here 

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