In the summer of 2022, Dawn Wright became only the 27th person ever, the fifth woman, and the first Black person to descend into the deepest part of the ocean, a place called Challenger Deep. As a scientist, Dawn has been studying and helping to map the depths of the ocean, but being there in person uncovered a new dimension and deepened her connection with the mysterious underwater world.
In the episode, Colin and Dawn talk about the science of mapping, the world of deep sea submersibles, and how finding trash in the most remote places of our planet might spark a renewed sense of stewardship for all of God’s creation.
This is one of the very few podcast interviews we got to do in the office these days (most are virtual), and Dawn came to the office and had coffee with all of us after her recording was over and we asked her ALLLL the questions. She is such a lovely person!
Thank you for this podcast. Thanks to Dr. Wright for sharing about her faith and about her important work.
I was wondering if there are living organisms on the ocean floor at Challenger Deep? Or, were the bioluminescent organisms that were described “on the way down”? If so, I find it amazing that complex life can exist at that depth. I know there are bacteria that can survive in the harshest conditions on earth, but I am wondering about more complex life that can exist at the deepest part of the oceans.
As a planetary science grad student, I think a lot of what she says about the ocean can also be applied to to outer space and particularly the solar system. Both the deep sea and the solar system are relatively unexplored and untouched by humans. Both environments can teach us many surprising things about nature and about God because they are relatively unexplored. Furthermore, both of are places which we want to avoid polluting with trash. In the case of the deep ocean, it is microplastics and beer bottles. In the case of outer space, it is orbital space debris and contaminating potentially habitable planetary bodies with Earth microbes. I guess you could say that wherever we are in the universe, our responsibility is the same.
Holothurians and other echinoderms, polychaetes, shrimp, and lots of organic-shelled forams are what seem to have been found at the bottom so far. I wouldn’t be surprised at aplacophorans and some additional groups of worms showing up in future.
Yes it is. At the other extreme on earth, it seems that a species of spider - Euophrys omnisuperstes - has been found at elevations of 6,700m on Mount Everest. There is also a moss that grows at 6,480m. And birds have been sighted flying at 7,900m.
This was a cool episode indeed. I think seeing the bioluminescence clouds of organisms in darker parts of the ocean would have to be just amazing. Not to mention all the other glowing animals down there. Never knew about the ocean internet cables either .
Although the first expedition to the Challenge Deep reported seeing a fish, it’s strongly suspected that they actually saw a holothurian. It’s generally thought that fish can’t take the pressure of the very deepest parts of the trenches; invertebrates with different body structures are better at equalizing the pressures.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6
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