Christian Long

Richard Pyle: Dives the Reef’s Twilight Zone

In TED Talks on April 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Reflection by RACHEL L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Richard Pyle:  Dives the Reef’s Twilight Zone

When scuba limits you to a maximum of 200 feet below the surface, and when you’d rather spend $30,000 diving to the farthest reaches possible, what happens to the limbo in between?

This zone, known as the twilight zone, ranges from around 200-500 feet below the surface of the waves. As it turns out, we know more about the ocean floor than we do about the reefs hundreds of feet above them. And when you’re a fish fanatic like Richard Pyle, this zone is heaven under the sea in terms of undiscovered life.

So how do you get there?

In order to explore the reef’s unknown crevices, you must first overcome the obstacle of pressure. As you dive deeper and deeper, the pressure increases. This means the density of the gas contained in your breathing apparatus also increases. Soon, the copious (and ever increasing) amount of gas particles coming in with each breath begin to build up in your blood stream. For those limited by SCUBA tanks, depths of 200 ft. + can often result in underwater convulsions, the bends, or nitrogen narcosis… which are typically things most ichthyologists wish to avoid at all costs.

So, how do you avoid the problem of oxygen toxicity? Pyle begins to develop a Re-breather. This complex device circulates different gases in order to prevent said problems. The re-breather is quieter, and allows you to not only dive deeper, but longer (which proves indispensable when collecting new species of fish).

With the re-breather in tow, you can float down into the depths of the clear, dark water filled with myriad diversity. There are not only fishes, sponges and corals, but sharks. Surprising, but nothing to really fear. Although surrounded by sharks, the the sheer depth of the dive poses an exponentially higher threat than sharks, who dart away with the shine of artificial light.

But, to Richard Pyle, the depth is worth the risk. The video showcases the sheer number of new species they have found. Up to 7 new species per hour, which is absolutely astonishing.

If you enjoy anything of the marine persuasion, I would definitely recommend watching this video due to the fact that I can only illuminate so much for you.

I’ll leave you with an allusion to Richard Pyle’s end note: Watch this video if only for the pursuit of knowledge and happiness, which is often one’s highest calling in life.

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