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Special Edition Deepest Point of the Deepest Trench in the World`s Deepest Ocean. Aired 4-4:10a ET
Aired May 21, 2021 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome. I`m Carl Azuz and today`s special edition of CNN 10 take us in depth because you really can`t go
anywhere more in depth than the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the world`s deepest trench in the world`s deepest ocean. We`re talking about
the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. National Geographic describes it as a scar in the Earth`s crust. It`s located about seven miles beneath the
waves. The trench measures more than 1,500 miles long and it`s 43 miles wide on average. So we`re talking about a pretty big scar overall and the
Challenger Deep is near the southern end of it. It takes a feat of engineering just to get there. It takes hours of diving to hit bottom and
it`s largely an unexplored frontier.
Even though thousands of people have reached the top of the world on Mt. Everest, fewer than 25 have reached the bottom of it in the Challenger
Deep. New Zealander Rob McCallum is one of them. On April 8th, he became the first person from his country to go there and he went along with Tim
Macdonald, the first person from Australia to complete the feat. They sent us this video and everything else you`re about to see. And I had the
opportunity to interview Mr. McCallum about the experience not long after he hit rock bottom and then resurfaced again last month. Let`s dive in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB MCCALLUM, DIVER: It`s the last unexplored frontier on Earth. We know very little about this -- this region that we call the Hadal zone which is
that area of the ocean below 6,000 meters or 20,000 feet.
AZUZ: You just can`t get there in a normal submarine, what sort of vehicle does it take to withstand the pressures there?
MCCALLUM: That`s a very interesting question because pressure is entirely relative. When a spacecraft goes up into space, they`re only experiencing
a -- a pressure change of one atmosphere between the inside of the spacecraft and the outside. We are dealing with a pressure differential of
around 1,100 atmospheres. So we dive in a titanium sphere which is able to withstand 100,000 tons of pressure. Just on the hatch through which we get
into the submarine, just the hatch alone has 2.200 tons or around five fully laden Boeing 747 pushing down on it.
AZUZ: Wow. That`s -- that`s incredible. I mean -- somebody can`t go out and -- and buy that. How does one acquire a vehicle like that?
MCCALLUM: This vehicle was made for this specific purpose. It was designed and built by Trident Submarines in Florida specifically to be able
to voyage down through seven and a half miles of water comb to get to the bottom. And that`s why it`s got kind of an interesting shape. It looks
like a pillow that`s on its side and that`s so that it can drop down through the water comb very, very quickly.
AZUZ: You said very quickly. How long does it take to get to that depth?
MCCALLUM: It takes around four and a half hours to get to the deepest point of the world`s ocean. We go down through the water at about six feet
AZUZ: And coming back?
MCCALLUM: We`ve released ballast weight on the bottom to -- to spring us off the bottom and head for the surface and so it`s about a three and a
half hour ride up.
AZUZ: What are you seeing when you get to the ocean floor in the deepest part of it?
MCCALLUM: This is the most fantastic part of what we`re doing. It`s true exploration. You know, we never know what we`re going to see. Every dive
has yielded something fascinating. Often something new to science. We are seeing creatures for the first time. We are discovering entire landscapes
which were previously unknown.
AZUZ: That`s still a full day just in travel time. So how much time does that give you on the ocean`s floor?
MCCALLUM: We try to stay down for three to five hours on the bottom. You know, it`s a big investment of time and energy. It takes the entire team
to get this vehicle prepared and get it down and so we try to use every minute possible on the bottom. Our submersible has three view courts. One
for each of the occupants (inaudible) so one central one that allows us to see down to the sea floor. And we`re also surrounded by very high-
definition cameras that are all linked to a screen in front of us and we can look in any direction outside. And that`s important because we don`t
really know where we`re going. We`re almost always the very first humans that have ever been there. And so, although we have a three-dimensional
map that we`ve made the day before, we need a very good view outside to see what`s coming.
Yes, for humans we don`t really fear what we can`t see. And so when you`re in an airline and you`re looking out, you don`t naturally think of the wind
going past at 500 miles an hour and it`s minus 50 out there and there`s not enough air to breathe. We just oh, I can see a town, or I can see a truck
and the same in the sub. There`s no sensation of movement. There`s no sensation of sound. You can`t hear or feel anything from outside. It`s
just a very peaceful, relaxing cruise into the unknown. I think that we know so little about the ocean that we barely understand what questions to
ask let alone have the ability to -- to understand the answers. My role and the role of the team that I work with is to simply open the door. This
is the first vehicle in all of human history that has the ability to reach the deep ocean in any ocean, in any depth, at any time. It`s -- it`s --
it`s kin to the Wright Brothers with the first flying machine. This is just the first baby steps.
AZUZ: I know the technology might be a way away from creating a, sort of, ocean exploration station that can withstand depths like that. But we have
reported on, there -- there is more funding and investment in underwater exploration stations. I mean, how important would you feel those would be
as contrasted with let`s say the International Space Station?
MCCALLUM: Both are important, don`t get me wrong. I`m not taking a shot at space travel but, you know, space is a vast void, a vacuum that so far
has proved to be lifeless. The ocean is nothing like that. The ocean is full of life. You know, right from the surface all the way down to the
very, very bottom. I think before we leave home and start exploring the heavens, we should at least explore our own backyard more thoroughly. I
think that many of the answers to our collective future are going to be found in the ocean and some of those in the deep ocean. The answers to how
we`re going to handle all the carbon in the atmosphere, the answers to the dynamics of our ocean and how we can erase the -- the decline of the ocean.
But also the things that we might discover, in terms of valuable compounds, medicines and that sort of thing.
AZUZ: So why do you think there`s so much interest in space exploration when we could be exploring what we have right here?
MCCALLUM: I think it`s as simple as when we gaze up at the heavens, we -- we have a sense of wonder what`s out there, you know, what can we find? We
always look skyward because we`re terrestrial mammals. We -- we -- we look up to the heavens. When we look into the water, we don`t really see that
much. We see an opaque, plain -- plain -- platform that we can pull fish out of, you can go for a swim in but we don`t actually go to far down. You
know, my dive was about 36,000 feet. Most humans never get below about 300 feet. So, there`s a long way to go yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: So, it appears we`ve barely scratched the surface and there is still so many questions in limbo except how "low" you can go because we know from
those who`ve "plummed" the depths and helped us both "deepen" and reach new heights of understanding. Dougherty Valley High School, shout out to you
our viewers in San Ramone, California. We have one week on the air left in our Spring broadcasting season. So, we hope to see you Monday. I`m Carl
Azuz for CNN.