Just How Deep Are the Oceans?

Consider standing on a sunlit beach, with waves crashing in the distance. No matter the ocean that sprawls before you in this beautiful scene, lingering beneath the tranquility is a mystery that the world’s foremost experts can’t even definitively answer: Just how deep do the oceans get?

From Real Life Lore comes a primer on this topic, which contextualizes the ocean’s dark, cavernous depths by using famous landmarks to illustrate just how far down humans have explored, and where certain creatures live.

It turns out, the deepest anyone has ever scuba dived is 332 meters below the surface. That level, reached by Ahmed Gabr in 2014, was just 111 meters short of reaching the height of the Empire State building if it were submerged in water, upside down.

But even that is a paltry example of the ocean’s seemingly endless void. Once you enter the space below 1,000 meters, a.k.a “The Scary Zone,” all sunlight is drowned out, and if you aren’t already killed by the enormous water pressure at this point, it’s likely a giant squid would devour you anyway.

As you descend further into the all encompassing darkness, and pass ghastly creatures that lurk in the shadows, the sea does not become more forgiving: There’s the “Abyssal Zone,” which is home to the macabre looking creatures like the Anglerfish and Viperfish, and below that, the “Hadal Zone,” named literally after the fiery pits of hell.

Perhaps most telling of the infinite mystery belying the ocean, is the science world’s lack of intel on the ocean’s floor: Only 5% of the ocean’s floor has been accurately mapped.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster