Explore the Mariana Trench via photos, videos

Friendly reminder: The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

The deepest section of the Mariana Trench, named Challenger Deep, is at a depth of 36,000 feet. For perspective, Mount Everest is 29,000 feet tall.

A deep-ocean submersible uses its lights to illuminate a hydrothermal vent field at Chammoro Seamount, within the Mariana Trench, June 24, 2016.

Located east of the Philippines, the Mariana Trench is also massive. It is 120 times larger than the Grand Canyon and includes millions of acres virtually unknown to humans.

In January of 2009, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was established. On the same date, Jan. 16, 2009, the Mariana Trench and Mariana Arc of Fire national wildlife refuges were also established.

These designations help protect the tremendously complex natural world that is only beginning to be studied.

Tall hydrothermal vents spill out black chemical bacteria in the depths of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, as seen during a 2016 exploration.

This underwater world includes mud volcanoes, one of which “produces almost pure liquid carbon dioxide,” according to NOAA, and another that has a pool of liquid sulfur. Some species exclusively survive on bacteria from hydrothermal vents that spill out highly acidic, boiling water.

A single shark swims within the waters of the Mariana Trench, as seen by a submersible launched from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer in 2016.

In other sections of the marine monument, one coral reef site has the highest density of sharks anywhere in the Pacific Ocean, while another has an incredibly diverse collection of stony coral.

A ghost fish, part of the Aphyonidae family, was seen during a 2016 dive in the Mariana Trench. This fish had never before been seen alive, according to NOAA.
Crew on the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer work on a submersible during their 2016 visit to the Mariana Trench.

This amazing imagery was captured in 2016 by a remotely operated vehicle launched from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. The submersible was only able to reach about halfway down into the Mariana Trench.

NOAA 2016 Mariana Trench Exploration

Story Tags

Underwater photography