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What Happens to Your Body in the Depths of the Ocean?
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What Happens to Your Body in the Depths of the Ocean?

Imagine descending into the ocean’s depths, venturing into a realm few have ever witnessed. The mysterious world beneath the waves holds secrets beyond our wildest imagination. 

But have you ever wondered what happens to your body as you delve deeper into the abyss?

Earlier this week, the world was shocked after the OceanGate Titan submarine got lost while exploring the remains of the famous Titanic. The Titan had five people inside, including the boss of OceanGate, Stockton Rush.

Ocean Gate Titan Submarine

The people in charge of the Titan lost contact about one hour and 45 minutes after it started its journey from a big ship called the Polar Prince. Extensive search rescue had been done to locate the submarine, but answers were found that the submersible had imploded, along with the people inside.

What do you think could happen to the human body at 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) deep into the ocean floor? 

Pressure on the Body

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Something interesting happens when we go deep into the ocean – the pressure around us strengthens. Like when you squeeze a balloon, the deeper you go, the tighter the pressure. As we dive deeper into the ocean, the water above us adds more weight, creating pressure.

Our organs and tissues are designed to work at the normal pressure we experience on land. But when we dive deep, the increased pressure can affect them. It’s like giving them a big squeeze! This pressure can make it harder for our organs to function properly.

If we dive too deep or come back up too quickly, our bodies might need more time to adjust to the changing pressure. This can lead to decompression sickness or “the bends,” which can cause pain in our joints and muscles. 

The high pressure can also make our bodies feel tired and weak. If we don’t take proper precautions and gradually get back to a lower pressure, it can damage our organs.

Nitrogen Narcosis: The Raptures of the Deep

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When diving deep into the ocean, there’s a fascinating phenomenon called nitrogen narcosis, also known as “the raptures of the deep.” 

This condition occurs when we dive to great depths with significantly higher pressure. As we descend deeper into the ocean, the increased pressure affects how nitrogen gas behaves in our bodies. At the same time, nitrogen is a harmless gas that we breathe in and out without issues; it can unexpectedly affect our bodies and mind at high pressures, such as in the deep ocean.

It causes nitrogen gas to dissolve in our body tissues, similar to how carbon dioxide dissolves in a carbonated drink. As we go deeper, more nitrogen enters our bloodstream and tissues. Nitrogen molecules are absorbed into our body, like when a sponge soaks up water.

This can lead to cognitive impairments and altered mental states. At depths where nitrogen narcosis occurs, divers may experience euphoria, similar to being under the influence of alcohol or certain drugs. 

This altered state of mind can cause impaired judgment, slowed reactions, and decreased mental sharpness. In such a state, decision-making abilities can be compromised, and divers may have difficulty following procedures or accurately assessing risks.

Battling the Cold: Hypothermia in the Deep Ocean

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The deep ocean is frigid, with temperatures far colder than we experience on land. As we descend deeper, the water becomes colder due to factors like lack of sunlight and mixing of different water masses. In some places, the temperatures can reach near-freezing levels. It’s like jumping into a pool of icy water but magnified many times over!

Hypothermia becomes a real concern when our bodies are exposed to these extremely cold temperatures. Hypothermia occurs when our body loses heat faster than it can produce it, leading to a dangerously low core body temperature. In the deep ocean, where the water is chillingly cold, hypothermia can occur much more quickly than swimming in a heated pool.

It can cause a range of symptoms that affect our body’s functions. At first, we may experience shivering as our body attempts to generate heat. As hypothermia progresses, shivering may stop, and we may feel extremely cold, exhausted, and confused. Our movements may become slow and clumsy, like when you try to play a sport with numb fingers.

Hypothermia can lead to a lack of coordination, slurred speech, and even loss of consciousness as the body’s temperature drops. 

Oxygen Toxicity: A Hazard at Great Depths

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Divers often use specialized breathing mixtures with higher oxygen concentrations when diving to great depths. Breathing high-pressure oxygen can provide benefits, but it also comes with risks. Like how too much of anything can be harmful, breathing too much high-pressure oxygen can negatively affect our bodies.

It can cause to our central nervous system, which includes our brain and spinal cord. Prolonged exposure to high-pressure oxygen can lead to a condition known as oxygen toxicity.  It’s like your brain receiving too much electrical energy, causing it to short-circuit and malfunction. That’s why it’s important to be cautious when using high-pressure oxygen at great depths.

The symptoms of oxygen toxicity can vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, or twitching muscles. As exposure to high-pressure oxygen continues, more severe symptoms can arise, such as blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and convulsions.

Decompression Sickness: The Bends

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As mentioned, when we dive deep into the ocean, the increased pressure causes our bodies to absorb more nitrogen gas. During ascent, if we return to the surface too quickly, the excess nitrogen forms bubbles in our tissues and bloodstream. This condition is known as decompression sickness.

Imagine opening a bottle of soda and seeing the fizzing bubbles rise to the surface. Similar bubbles can form in our body’s tissues and bloodstream in decompression sickness. These gas bubbles can cause various problems, such as blocking blood vessels or affecting the function of organs.

The symptoms of decompression sickness can vary from mild to severe, depending on the severity and location of the bubbles. Mild symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, fatigue, or skin rashes. More severe cases can involve neurological symptoms like numbness, paralysis, or difficulty speaking.

The severity of decompression sickness can be influenced by dive depth, duration, and ascent speed. That’s why following proper ascent rates and decompression procedures is essential to allow our bodies to release excess nitrogen and avoid decompression sickness safely.

Conclusion

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Exploring the ocean’s depths is an extraordinary adventure filled with wonders and challenges. The recent incident involving the OceanGate Titan submarine going missing serves as a reminder of the risks and mysteries beneath the surface. This could even trigger anxiety, but as we have learned, our bodies face various changes and potential dangers in the deep ocean.

As we unravel the mysteries of the deep ocean, let us prioritize safety, maintain a sense of awe for the vast underwater world, and cherish the brave individuals who strive to uncover its secrets while ensuring their well-being. While the OceanGate Titan submarine ended up in the tragic seabed along with the Titanic’s remains, we know that the deep ocean is not something we should challenge.

FAQs

Can the ocean pressure crush you?

Yes, ocean pressure can crush you if you are not properly equipped. The pressure at the ocean’s surface is about 1 atmosphere, but it increases by about 1 atmosphere for every 33 feet (10 meters) of depth. At a depth of 1,000 feet (300 meters), the pressure is 30 atmospheres, about the same pressure as being crushed by a car. However, the human body is mostly water, which is incompressible. So, it is not the pressure that would crush you, but the air in your lungs and other air-filled spaces in your body.

How deep is the ocean?

The average depth of the ocean is 3,688 meters (12,100 feet). However, the ocean is not flat, so there are many places that are much deeper. The deepest part of the ocean is the Challenger Deep, which is located in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. The Challenger Deep is 10,935 meters (35,876 feet) deep.

What happens to your body at 13000 feet underwater?

The pressure at 13,000 feet underwater is about 1,000 atmospheres, about 100 times the pressure at sea level. This pressure would have a devastating effect on the human body. The lungs would collapse, and the blood vessels would burst, leading to internal bleeding. This would be fatal in minutes, and the tissues would be crushed. This would be excruciatingly painful and would eventually lead to death.

How deep can the human body go in the ocean?

The deepest a human body can go into the ocean without any special equipment is around 60 feet (18 meters). Beyond this depth, the body requires an oxygen supply to function properly. 

With special equipment, divers can safely dive to much greater depths. The deepest a human has ever dived is 35,858 feet (10,935 meters) in the Challenger Deep in the Marianas trench.

Have humans touched the bottom of the ocean?

Yes, humans have touched the bottom of the ocean. Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh became the first humans to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep in a submersible called the Bathyscaphe Trieste. In 2012, James Cameron became the first person to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep solo in a submersible called the Deepsea Challenger. Then on In 2019, Victor Vescovo reached a deeper part of Challenger Deep at 35,853 feet, breaking the record for the deepest dive in DSV Limiting Factor.

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