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Marine Biology in the News: Famed Oceanographer Jacques Piccard Dies

Eileen here. The oceanographic and scientific community lost one of its pioneers this past weekend with the death of a renowned Swiss oceanographer, Jacques Piccard. Piccard was one of the first deep-sea explorers and, along with Lt. Don Walsh from the United States Navy, reached a greater depth than any other scientist.

Jacques Piccard had science and discovery in his genes from birth. His father, uncle and aunt were revolutionary aeronauts and balloonists who helped the scientific community understand jet streams and atmospheric currents. Jacques’s own son is continuing this family tradition and completed a trip around the world in a balloon using his grandfather’s knowledge of the air current and his father’s research of deep-sea currents as inspiration.

Jacques Piccard is most famous for his 1960 dive into the Mariana Trench with Lt. Walsh. The Mariana Trench is located near Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It is the deepest point in the oceans known to man and Piccard’s dive went to about 35,797 ft below the surface to reach the bottom of part of the trench. Piccard is quoted as saying one of the most surprising parts of the 20-minute dive was the life discovered there, life that many marine biologists said could not possibly survive because of the extreme pressure at that depth. The submarine used for the dive reportedly started leaking during the dive and cut the trip even shorter than planned. That submarine, the Trieste, was eventually retired and inspired other naval research submarines as Piccard continued his research with the Untied States Navy until a few years ago. Piccard was 86 years old when he passed away on Saturday.

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Until next time,

About Eileen Daub

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Marine Biologist/Aquatic Husbandry Manager I was one of those kids who said "I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up!"....except then I actually became one. After a brief time at the United States Coast Guard Academy, I graduated from Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2004. Since then, I've been a marine biologist at That Fish Place - That Pet Place, along with a Fish Room supervisor, copywriter, livestock inventory controller, livestock mail-order supervisor and other duties here and there. I also spent eight seasons as a professional actress with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and in other local roles. If that isn't bad enough, I'm a proud Crazy Hockey Fan (go Flyers and go Hershey Bears!).