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Deep in the Pacific Ocean, near China, is the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean! Join Jessi and Squeaks and learn all about the super-cool, super-tough creatures that make their home there!

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Deep in the Pacific Ocean, near China, there’s a long, crescent-shaped area that’s one of the most special places on Earth.

It’s called the Mariana Trench, and it’s the deepest part of the ocean. It’s so far down that for a long time, scientists weren’t even sure if anything could live there But then we finally were able to explore it, and it turns out that there are some awesome forms of life down there!

The Mariana Trench is almost 11,000 meters, or about 36,000 feet deep. It’s hard to even imagine how far down that is, but think about how far you would go if you walked for two hours — like for as long as a movie. [Squeaks thinks that’s a long walk] Yeah, that would be a long walk! But you’d end up going pretty far, right? [Squeaks agrees] Well, that’s about as far down as the deepest part of the ocean is.

If you put the biggest mountain on Earth inside it, the top of the mountain wouldn’t even come close to the surface of the water! And when you get that deep into the ocean, it becomes really hard for anything to survive. For one thing, it’s super dark.

The light from the sun can’t go through all that water! And almost everything that’s alive needs sunlight to live, so it’s really important! It’s also reallllly cold!

It’s so cold that if it got even a tiny bit colder, the water would freeze into ice. And, there’s tons of pressure down there, too. Pressure is what happens when something pushes on something else.

Like if you press your hand against this table, Squeaks … [he puts his hand (paw?) on the table] … exactly! Your hand is putting pressure on the table. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench, all the water above creates lots of pressure — so much that it wouldn’t be safe for people, or almost any other living thing, to swim around down there.

The pressure would be way too strong! Between the darkness and the cold and the pressure, it’s very hard for anything to survive at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. But there are some special types of life that can!

Like something called a sea cucumber. [Squeaks is surprised] No, not that kind of cucumber! Even though they have a similar name, sea cucumbers aren’t anything like the cucumber vegetables we eat in salad sometimes. They’re animals!

They kind of look like big worms, and they live on the ocean floor, where they look for things to eat — like tiny animals, so small you wouldn’t even be able see them. Another type of animal that lives in the deepest part of the ocean are amphipods, which look a little bit like shrimp. Most of the animals that are similar to amphipods and live in other places are pretty small — they’re usually only about a centimeter long, or about as long as a fingernail.

But the amphipods at the bottom of the Mariana Trench are much bigger — they can be 20 centimeters long, or about the size of a grown-up’s hand! There are also lots of another type of living thing, called foraminifera, or just forams for short, that live in the deepest part of the ocean. There are more than 400 kinds of them living in the Mariana Trench, and they’re not animals, or plants, or even fungi like mushrooms.

They’re a type of living thing called a protist. These forams can be about the same size as the amphipods, or even bigger — up to 30 centimeters long. All the types of life in the deepest part of the ocean are soft, with no hard bones.

They can’t have bones, because the pressure down there is so strong that it would just turn them into mush! That strong pressure is also makes it very hard for us humans to go explore the Mariana Trench, which is why there’s a lot scientists still don’t know about it. We can send people in special types of submarines that keep them safe from the pressure and the cold, or we can send robots without people. [Squeaks volunteers] I know, Squeaks, I’d love to go explore it too!

But it’s very hard and expensive to build submarines or robots that can go that far down. Scientists have only done it a few times! So, we know a little bit about what’s down in the deepest part of the whole ocean.

But a lot of it is still a big mystery! Thanks for joining us! If you want to keep learning and having fun with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!