The World’s Deepest Oceanic Trenches

The World’s Deepest Oceanic Trenches

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    I have always had a fascination with trenches. I remember as a small boy, spending hours at a time in a muddy depression beside the highway where I lived, or hunkering down in a ditch in the field out back, sometimes wallowing in a gully near the school, just about anyplace where I was ensconced by vertical walls of dirt or mud because my brother had told me that such areas were the safest places to be in the event of a tornado. Of course, as we lived in Los Angeles, there wasn’t much chance of a twister coming along and flinging me to the Land of Oz—or somewhere worse, like Oxnard—but I never said that I was a bright kid.

    As I grew older, my fascination for trenches only deepened. Fortunately, by then I had acquired some appreciation for hygiene and only rarely floundered in muddy troughs, so I turned my curiosity toward oceanic trenches, which were considerably cleaner but filled with bizarre and sometimes terrifyingly ugly creatures. I spent hours examining our Time Life book on The Oceans, especially the picture pages where they had illustrations of rooster fish, luminescent lantern fish, equally radiant hatchet and the meanest-looking swimmer of them all, the angler fish. I always wanted to take a trip down into the deep trenches of the Pacific and therefore decided on a career as a Marine Biologist. Unfortunately, my enduring hate-affair with seasickness put an end to that career choice, but the allure of the deep remains.

    I could list fifty or more trenches from every ocean and sea on Earth… but I don’t want to; so I settled only for those more than six miles deep (for the mathematically challenged, that’s over 31, 680 feet, considerably deeper than Everest is high).

    The granddaddy trench of them all is, of course, the Mariana Trench, about 200 miles southwest of Guam and about a thousand miles due east of the Philippines. At 6.86 miles deep, this one gets the most attention, though the Tonga Trench (about 600 miles southeast of Fiji and about 1,200 miles north by northeast of Auckland, New Zealand), at 6.76 miles, is nearly as deep. Because the southeast North Pacific Ocean is the most dimpled ocean in the world, coming in at numbers three and five are the Philippine Trench (located about three quarters of the way on a straight line from Dipolong City on Mindanao Island and Narra on Palawan Island) and the Kermadec Trench, baby sister to the Tonga trench, which come in at 6.54 and 6.24 miles deep respectively. The Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, located about three quarters of the way from Sapporo Island in Japan to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, ranks as number four on the list at 6.52 miles deep.

    Last but certainly not least is the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, situated nearly 800 miles east of the southernmost tip of Japan (Kyushu Island), which is a mere 6.08 miles deep. If I’m not mistaken, this is where the government of some nearby country that will remain nameless secretly dumped their radioactive waste from nuclear power plants back in the 1950s, spawning the most horrific mutation in the history of the world. I know what you’re thinking: Godzilla, right? Well, you’re way off. Think uglier, bigger, with a speech impediment similar to a lisp but more sibilant and the worst fashion sense this side of New Jersey.

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