By Karl Stanley – Jan 2010 – Bay Islands Voice
Though many people visit Roatan for their love of the ocean, most often their love remains shallow and superficial. As opposed to the mere 130-foot depths explored by Roatan scuba divers, the world’s oceans have an average depth of over 14,000 feet. Most of the planet is covered in waters that have never seen light and are inhabited by otherworldly animals adapted to this extreme environment. Currently the most accessible point for people to explore this world for themselves is right here on Roatan.
To better understand the uniqueness of the Roatan Institute of Deep-sea Exploration (RIDE) and its current submersible Idabel, it is useful to have a brief history of submersibles. It was in the 1960s that modern submersibles were born, that interest was at the highest in exploring the ocean, (as well as space one could add), and that most developments in submersible design were made as well as in vehicles. It was during this time the submersible Alvin was launched that famously found the Titanic (1964), and the standing record for deep submergence was made by the Trieste to the bottom of the Marianas Trench (1960). In 1968, six men spent over a month drifting 1500 miles in the Gulf stream in a submersible named the Ben Franklin. Television regularly featured the exploits of Cousteau piloting his diving saucer and living underwater in the Conshelf habitats. In short, it was an exciting time to be exploring underwater.
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