Plunge Into The Abyss

The next frontier for our team is in the underwater depths of Dean’s Blue Hole. In the first descent of manned submersible, equipped with LED lights and underwater drone technology, our scientists will be able to venture into some of Earth’s least hospitable conditions in search of unprecedented findings. To date, Dean’s Blue Hole has been virtually unexplored. Venturing into uncharted waters, our team will have to “expect the unexpected.”

Why Dean’s Blue Hole?

Dean’s Blue Hole is an enigma for geologists studying underwater caverns. It is the largest of its kind in the world, and yet very little is known about it, including how it formed more than 15,000 years ago.

Its extreme depth (663 feet, 202 meters) makes Dean’s inaccessible to even the most experienced divers and its remote location makes it incredibly difficult to launch major surface-based operations. Dean’s has a unique “vase” configuration with a narrow opening near the surface relative to a much wider cavern chamber below.

Our mission is not without risk, including:

Uncharted Water. Dean’s is virtually unexplored. There is a certain amount of unpredictability our team will face in new territory.

Currents and Thermal Layers. Geologists believe there may be openings along the walls of the main chamber that connect Dean’s to the Atlantic Ocean. This can potentially cause unforeseen currents and thermal layers that could interfere with underwater operations.

Pressure and Visibility. At the floor of the cavern, our team will be subject to extreme pressure—almost 300 pounds per square inch (psi), about 20 times greater than what we feel on the surface. Due to the narrow opening near the top of the main chamber, light will not penetrate the lowest points of the cavern, so our team will be operating in complete darkness.

Remote Location. Dean’s is located on one of the more remote Bahamian islands. There are limited facilities and nothing substantive nearby. We will be relatively isolated should our team run into severe problems or emergencies.

“What Lurks Beneath.” Locals believe that Dean’s is a portal to hell and the Devil himself lurks in the black depths. Each year, several people drown in Dean’s due to a variety of misfortunes. We fully expect to find human remains and prepare to handle those situations with proper respect for the families.

Expedition Crew

Kenny Broad

Science Team Leader

Scott Parazynski

Lead Explorer
Chief Medical Officer

Guillermo Söhnlein

Expedition Leader

The Technology To Get Us There

We push the limits of technology, science, and human endurance to raise awareness of Planet Earth, our “Blue Marble”. For this expedition, we will use a variety of ocean exploration technologies, including:

Nuytco Exosuit

When exploring the depths of Dean’s Blue Hole, we’ll be able to venture beyond the submersible thanks to the EXOSUIT, developed and built in Vancouver by Nuytco Research Ltd. Constructed from aluminum alloy, it’s also lightweight — 500-600 lbs — and can operate underwater for up to 50 hours at depths up to 1,000 feet. A number of rotary joints that mimic elbows, knees, and shoulders allow for significant mobility, giving divers  exceptional dexterity and flexibility to perform delicate work. The EXOSUIT is equipped with 852 Ultra-Miniature scanning SONAR.

The EXOSUIT atmospheric diving system (ADS) maintains a cabin pressure of the surface and still allows the suit to bend due to a unique rotary joint invented by Phil Nuytten, relieving the diver of the massive deep layer pressure. Connected with a 1,250 feet tether cable, underwater guidance is benefited by onboard thrusters allow for mobility and built in LED lights.

Cyclops Submersible

The Cyclops submersible, made by OceanGate, has eight hours of life support for a crew of five and an emergency system to support five people for four days. With a 57” acrylic dome that allows for 180º degree visibility, Cyclops will enable our crew to descend as far as 500 meters below Dean’s surface with unparalleled visibility. It is equipped with internal and external lighting and video equipment for capturing the highest quality of video content while we explore.

Cyclops can descend 500 meters and is designed to meet the most rigorous needs of governmental and commercial expeditions. With control spheres to house sensors and controllers outside the pressure hull, it has minimal hull penetrations to ensure deep-dive resilience. Cyclops is also the test platform for many of the technologies currently being tested for the 4,000 meter Titan submersible, currently undergoing sea trials before heading to the Titanic in 2019.

Custom OpenROV Trident

Our team will customize the Trident Underwater Drone, developed by OpenROV, to work as a fly-off part of the submersible, giving reach to explore offshoots of the main cavern. Trident is truly the next generation of underwater drones offering a live video feed for our crew while piloting. In depths of 100 meters, the Trident can run up to four hours in temperatures from -2°C to 40°C. It contains a 3-axis magnetometer, 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, and cm-resolution depth sensor.

The drone will be controlled by an Android-based video controller and records video at 1080p, 30fps. Trident’s excellent color rendition and high dynamic range is optimized for low light and underwater. It offers a high field-of-view and its sapphire window protects it against scratches.