A team of scientists launches a submarine for tests. They’re preparing to dive deep into the Indian Ocean—into the “Midnight Zone.” (AP)

A team of scientists launches a submarine for tests. They’re preparing to dive deep into the Indian Ocean—into the “Midnight Zone.” (AP)

A diver lies on top of the submarine Limiting Factor, in the Mediterranean Sea. (AP)

A diver lies on top of the submarine Limiting Factor, in the Mediterranean Sea. (AP)

Scientists lower the Limiting Factor submarine into the Mediterranean Sea during sea trials. (AP)

Scientists lower the Limiting Factor submarine into the Mediterranean Sea during sea trials. (AP)

This fish, living in great ocean depths, is a type of cusk eel.

This fish, living in great ocean depths, is a type of cusk eel.

No light reaches down to where the deep sea anglerfish lives. So it has its own light!

No light reaches down to where the deep sea anglerfish lives. So it has its own light!

Diving into Midnight

Posted: May 1, 2020

In the dark water, an anglerfish uses its headlamp-like lure to attract prey. Deeper, a headless chicken fish drifts by. Welcome to the weird and wonderful part of the ocean known as the Midnight Zone.  

A team of scientists began their dive into the depths of the Indian Ocean this March. They traveled deeper underwater than sunlight does. The explorers spent five weeks there. They are targeting seamounts—gigantic underwater mountains. So even though they’re deep down, they’re still on mountaintops.

Ultra-deep parts of the ocean are very unfriendly to people. To explore the Midnight Zone, scientists boarded one of the world’s most advanced submersibles. A submersible is something that can go underwater and still work. This one is called “Limiting Factor.” 

Oliver Steeds directed the mission. “What we do know is that beneath 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), there’s no light down there, but a lot of animals . . . are bioluminescent. It’s life that glows,” he says.

It’s stunning that anything can stay alive without light or warmth and underneath incredible pressure from the water above. But the Midnight Zone is one of the most diverse parts of the ocean. What lives there? People know of a few creatures. But many, many more wait to be discovered. 

Last August, Limiting Factor dove to the deepest point in each of the world’s five oceans. It traveled almost 36,000 feet down. The submarine has a two-person crew compartment. It is wrapped in titanium so it can handle crushing water pressures. It also carries up to 96 hours’ worth of emergency oxygen.

“There are only five vehicles in the world that can get below 6,000 meters (19,685 feet),” says expedition leader Rob McCallum. “So everything we do is new. Everything we see is virtually a new discovery.”

The scientists expect to identify new species. They will learn about the huge undersea mountains. They may find pollution too. Last May, when “Limiting Factor” sunk to the ocean’s deepest point, its pilot spotted a non-fish invader: a plastic bag.

What’s the farthest from God you could go? How about plunging to the deepest part of the sea? Would you be far from Him then? NOPE! The Bible says even if a person lives in the bottom of the sea, God is there. (Psalm 139: 9-10) You might think of this in two ways. Maybe you’re thinking, “I can’t hide from God’s judgment.” But you could also think of it this way: “I can’t hide from God’s love.”

Think about this: Are you afraid of heights? When you stand at a railing, you might get a tingly feeling. Do you get the same feeling when you’re on a boat on the lake? Why not? You’re probably much “higher up” than your porch deck. You could be 200 feet above “ground.”