Photo of the week: Exploring the endless fascination of humans for the ocean

Descending into a shipwreck in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Lagos – Eyes of a Lagos Boy

For humans, the ocean represents the final frontier of exploration on the planet. The call of the deep ocean has drawn humanity for millennia. There is something primal about the sea that tugs at our curiosity. For all the technological advances that have allowed humans to explore earth’s last frontier, over 80% of the ocean remains unmapped and unobserved. The ocean pulls us in with the promise of mystery and secrets yet to be revealed. The phenomenon also holds clues, from ancient/modern shipwrecks to hidden ecosystems.

According to the National Oceanic and Geographic Atmospheric Administration –  historically there are four named oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. However, most countries – including the United States – now recognize the Southern (Antarctic) as the fifth ocean. The Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian are the most commonly known. The Southern Ocean is the ‘newest’ named ocean.

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water. Its depths hold creatures of all shapes and sizes, from the tiniest plankton to the largest mammals on earth. Beneath the surface lies a world of adventure and danger that sparks the curiosity in humans.

Scuba diving in Lagos Nigeria 

Discovering the unknown is a thrill in itself for humans, which leads to pushing limits and exploring uncharted territory, thereby tapping into something primordial. Even with advanced tech, there is always an element of risk when venturing into the deep. This sense of peril in a harsh, alien environment gets the adrenaline pumping. For many divers and researchers, descending into deep, dark waters also means facing your fears. The ocean evokes a sense of vulnerability that can be terrifying yet exhilarating to overcome. Reaching new depths requires mental toughness and determination to overcome anxiety and push through discomfort. The reward of conquering your fears and accomplishing a challenging dive is a rush like no other.

RMS Titanic

The most well-known shipwreck of all time, the Titanic sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Over 1,500 passengers lost their lives due to the lack of lifeboats. Its remains were discovered in 1985, with many artifacts recovered and placed in museums. Tourists and researchers pay frequent expensive visits just to catch a glimpse of it where it sits 3,800 meters below sea level. The Titanic’s enduring legend lives on in popular culture.

Currently, the BBC reports that search teams are racing against time to find a tourist submersible with five people inside that went missing one hour forty five minutes during its eight hour dive to the wreck of the Titanic since last Sunday. The site of the famous wreck is about 600km (370 miles) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Why shipwrecks capture our imagination

Shipwrecks have captivated imaginations for centuries. Could it be about these tragic tales of lives and treasure lost at sea that intrigues us so? For one, shipwrecks represent mystery and the unknown. As the ships slip beneath the waves, they enter an alien world largely inaccessible to us. What secrets do the wrecks and their cargos hold? Or what stories could they tell?

There is also a sense of tragedy and drama to shipwrecks that sparks interest in humans. Wondering about the final moments of passengers and crew. At the same time, fascinated by stories of heroism and survival against the odds.

The possibility of discovering treasure locked within a sunken ship holds an allure on its own. The thought of unearthing a valuable relic of the past or a cache of gold and jewels excites our sense of adventure and dreams of riches. From Spanish galleons to pirate ships, shipwrecks have inspired many a tale of fantastical treasures waiting to be found.

Deep sea diving appeals to our sense of adventure. It sparks that urge to explore and make discoveries in a world so unlike our own. The otherworldly scenes and creatures encountered on dives fuel our imagination.

The ocean is home to millions of species and  it contain vast natural resources that humans rely on. However, the delicate balance of life in the seas is under threat. Pollution, overfishing, mining, and climate change are putting intense pressure on ocean habitats and the creatures that inhabit them.

Humans must make serious efforts to curb pollution, transition to sustainable fishing practices, ban deep sea mining, and reduce the effects of climate change in order to preserve these fragile paradises for future generations.

The ocean holds eternal charm. It is about following our curiosity to discover the hidden stories that lie just beneath the surface, waiting to be found.