The Deep takes us on an epic journey into the unknown, a world of crushing pressure, brutal cold and utter darkness. It's the largest living space on our planet; and today, scientists think there’s more life here than anywhere else on Earth. This is our final frontier.
We discover alien worlds, bizarre creatures. Savage hordes of squid hunt in the depths. Coral gardens flourish in absolute darkness. A whale carcass generates a frenzy as slow-moving five metre sharks fight for their first meal in a year.
There are fish that walk instead of swim; worms that feed on bones; shrimps that spend their lives imprisoned in a cage of crystal sponge. As we go deeper, the sheer weight of water creates almost unendurable pressures. Yet even eight kilometres down - where the basic chemistry of life was once thought impossible - we find strange new species in the dark.
At volcanic hotspots, micro-worlds blossom into life. The creatures that live here are as alien as the worlds they inhabit. Hair-covered crabs feed on gushing plumes of hydrogen sulphide. Shrimps hover on the fringes of clouds of chemicals, so hot they could melt lead...
...yet one of these geysers may even hold the secret to all life on Earth.
Key story - Methane Volcano
Written by Orla Doherty, Producer
We set out to capture scenes at the extraordinary brine pool - an almost mythical lake at the bottom of the sea - and a death-trap to any unfortunate creature that strays into its toxic waters. For several days, we had been capturing wonderful footage of the scene that lay below us at the brine pool. But in the spirit of exploration, we ventured further west in the Gulf, to a site described to me by Dr Samantha Joye, our expedition scientist and deep sea researcher as a ‘thin curtain of bubbles’.
When we dived there the next day, we found nothing but a barren desert when we first touched down. Then suddenly, just ahead of us, something shot out from the seabed. We watched it rise up into the water column - a huge bubble, the size of a basketball. As it ascended, a trail of sediment fell away from it, drifting back down. Then another bubble, and another. Suddenly, we were entirely surrounded by giant bubbles of methane, erupting from what had been an empty abyssal desert only minutes before. It felt as if we had voyaged to another planet and we nick-named the site ‘War of the Worlds’.
We returned to ‘War of the Worlds’ twice more during our expedition. Both times, there was barely a puff coming from the methane volcano. We had been unbelievable lucky - the deep had given up one of its great secrets, but only the once.