Kelly Walsh, the son of the great ocean explorer Don Walsh, has just descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, almost 11km down in the Pacific. He made the dive 60 years after his father created history in doing so. It means Kelly is the 12th person to visit the trench floor—the same as the number of Apollo moonwalkers. The 12-hour dive on Saturday [June 20, 2020] saw him reach a depth of approximately 10,925m [6.8 miles].1
Astonishing! It’s right to be amazed at such a feat. Scripture says: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) For a son, one day before Father’s Day, to visit the planet’s deepest deep 20 years after his father visited the same place is unprecedented. Kelly Walsh announced on June 5, 2020, about two weeks before the deed was accomplished, “60 years ago , my dad and Jacques Piccard took the Bathyscaph Trieste (submersible) to the Challenger Deep—seven miles below the surface of the Pacific.”2
It would be 42 years before another seabed exploration would be made of the Challenger Deep.
In 2012, James Cameron manned the first solo dive to the trench, and I was honored to be on that expedition and view it from the deck of a ship.…Last year, Victor Vescovo and his team at Caladan Oceanic, EYOS and Triton Subs returned once again….Victor has invited me to return to the spot my dad visited, six decades prior. Seven miles down, seven miles back with another generation of Walsh returning to the abyss.2
The hard-to-imagine feat required engineering science and technology of the highest order to successfully explore Earth’s lowest spot.
The descent was piloted by the financier and adventurer Victor Vescovo. The Texan is conducting a series of dives into the lowest point of the Mariana Trench known as the Challenger Deep.…But Kelly Walsh’s descent is particularly noteworthy because of his father, Don. On 23 January, 1960, the then US Navy officer, accompanied by Swiss national Jacques Piccard, made the first crewed dive to the floor of Earth’s deepest ocean trench using the bathyscaphe Trieste.1
How deep is the deepest ocean depth?
The trench is so deep, it would be possible to fit Mount Everest (8,848m) inside it and still have more than 2km of water above the peak. The pressure at the trench floor is crushing…almost 16,000 pounds per square inch….On Saturday [June 20, 2020], Vescovo and Walsh spent four hours at the bottom of what’s called the “western pool”—one of three distinct zones in the Challenger Deep. It’s the same pool that Don Walsh and Piccard visited, and the latest dive marked the first time anyone had been back since .1
Deep oceanic seafloors are just recently being investigated, and humans aren’t the only creatures who visit the area. As reported by ICR, there is an unusual octopus that has been videoed in the Indian Ocean’s Java Trench, at a depth of about 7,000 meters—about 21,000 feet!3 The Java Trench’s Dumbo Octopus was swimming about four miles below the ocean’s surface, which is only about 60% as deep as the DSV Limiting Factor’s seafloor expedition.2,3 However, it should be appreciated that the Dumbo Octopus has no high-tech submersible to house and protect it in those depths. It only has what its Creator gave it—the innate ability to thrive at those great depths.
God has commissioned mankind to exercise stewardship over the earth and its animal inhabitants, and that entrustment cannot be discharged without seriously studying what kind of planet we’ve been given to care for.
Unfortunately, most systems and vocations in our present world, including the sciences, deny the Creator and His moral guidance. Most research is done for self-serving and man-centered reasons. It’s important to understand that God’s dominion mandate, given both before and after the fall, has never been rescinded and was authenticated and reaffirmed in the teachings of the Lord Jesus. Thus, Bible-based scientific research is a worthy pursuit for engaging the dominion mandate.4
The deepest ocean floors are waiting to be thoroughly investigated so that more of God’s “wonders of the deep” can be revealed. For those with eyes to see it, these are the works of the LORD.5
Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. (Psalm 107:23-24)
Stage image: Victor Vescovo's deepest dives.
Stage image credit: The Five Deeps Expedition/BBC/Google. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.
1. Amos, J. 2020. Mariana Trench: Don Walsh’s Son Repeats Historic Ocean Dive. BBC News. Posted on bbc.com on June 20, 2020, accessed on June 21, 2020.
2. “It will be an incredible experience for me personally, and a culmination of over 40 years of travel with my dad- something that continues to this day. It will certainly give us something to discuss over dinner! The first father and son to dive to the deepest place on the planet.” Kelly Walsh. 2020 Back to the Challenger Deep 1960-2020. Posted on sevenmilesback.com on June 5, 2020, accessed on accessed June 21, 2020.
3. Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Dumbo Octopus, God’s Wonder in the Deepest Deep. Creation Science Update. Posted at ICR.org on June 2, 2020, accessed on June 20, 2020. Dr. Alan Jamieson, who identified the Dumbo Octopus in the Java Trench, did so while working with the “Five Deeps Expedition” that used Victor Vescovo’s submersible in the deepest sectors of Earth’s five oceans. See Amos, J. 2020. World’s Deepest Octopus Captured on Camera. BBC News. Posted on bbc.com May 28, 2020, accessed June 21, 2020.
4. Tomkins, J., and J. J. S. Johnson. 2020. The Gospels Affirm the Dominion Mandate for Research. Acts & Facts. 49 (2): 10.
5. Exploring the great variety of God’s creation isn’t limited to the deepest deeps—using whatever opportunities that God provides is enough to keep us busy as we learn about what the psalmist calls “the works of the LORD.” See, Johnson, J. J. S. 2004. All Aboard! LeTourneau University Now. 59 (1): 12 (combining providential history with creation science education). See also Sherwin, F. 2008. Squid Reflects Creation Evidence. Acts & Facts. 37 (4): 14.
*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.