Timeline of Trench Discoveries

The HADES program represents a culmination of a more than 100 years of hadal and deep-ocean trench exploration and discovery. Two sampling campaigns in the 1950s (the Danish Galathea and the Soviet Vitjaz expeditions) form the basis of much of our knowledge of hadal ecosystems, followed by multiple opportunistic observations in the years and decades following these expeditions. Far from being devoid of life as originally perceived, the hadal zone is now thought to host a substantial diversity and abundance of fauna. Below we provide a timeline of discovery for deep-ocean trenches. Scroll through the links at the bottom of the screen to explore the history of this exploration and discovery– from 1895 to the present.

Deepest fish found

The first fish from hadal depths was sampled by the Princess Alice in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. This cusk eel, Bassogigas profundissimus, held the “deepest fish” record at 6035 m.

Chemosynthetic Communities discovered in Japan Trench

The Shinkai 6500 and the ROV Kaiko, revealed the bathymetric zonation of the chemosynthetic communities in the deepest part of the landward slope of the Japan Trench.

Deepest Fish Collected

A specimen of fish Abyssobrotula galathea (Nielsen 1977) was collected at 8370 m in the Puerto Rico Trench. This specimen was considered to be the deepest-living fish ever collected.

Deepest Samples Collected

Two deepest samples (presumed Foraminifera and meiofauna) were collected from a grab sample taken at 9807 meters from the floor of the Philippine Trench by R. R. Hessler from Scripps Institution of Oceanography during a cruise on the Research vessel Washington.

Mesoplankton Study Published

Vinogradov published a study on the vertical distribution of mesoplankton in the Mariana Trench, Bougainville Trench, Kermadec Trench and Kurile-Kamchatka Trench.

Barophillic Bacteria isolated from Challenger Deep

Two strains of obligately barophilic bacteria were isolated from a sample of the world’s deepest sediment, from ROV Kaiko in the Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep, at a depth of 10,898 m.

Swedish Expedition

Swedish expedition on the Albatross successfully trawled a variety of benthic species from 7625-7900 m from the Puerto Rico Trench (Nybelin, 1951). The catch comprised mostly holothurians (with some polychaetes and isopods) and unequivocally proved that life existed well beyond 6000 m (Eliason, 1951; Madsen, 1955; Nordenstamm, 1955).

Danish Expedition

Anton Bruun and Danish research vessel Galathea recovered sea anemones and amphipods, isopods, bivalves, and holothurians from 10,190 meters in the Philippine Trench. By the end of the cruise they had trawled in five trenches and collected more than 115 species at depths greater than 6000 meters. Total of 65 grab samples. The Galathea also collected five liparids (snailfish) of the species Careproctus kermadecensis (Nielsen 1964) in one haul between 6660 m and 6770 m in the Kermadec Trench.

Soviet Expedition

Two additional liparid species were sampled by bottom trawling during the Soviet Vityaz expeditions (1953–1957) in the northwestern Pacific Ocean: an individual Careproctus amblystomopsis from 7230 m in the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench; and a species of Careproctus, from 7579 m in the Japan Trench. Capture of benthic animals from 10.6 km in the Tonga Trench and 10.7 km in the Marianas Trench.

Hadal zone named

Anton Bruun first described depths in excess of 6 km as a unique ecological realm: the hadal zone.

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