The Bathysphere Book. First Sight of the Ocean Depths
For fans of Undrowned, The Brilliant Abyss, and The Book of Eels. For fans of visually rich nature documentaries: My Octopus Teacher, Planet Earth.
A gorgeous account of William Beebe’s 1934 Bathysphere expedition, the first-ever deep-sea voyage to the otherworldly environment 3,024 feet below sea level.
In the summer of 1934, aboard a ship floating near the Atlantic island of Nonsuch, marine biologist Gloria Hollister sat on a crate, writing furiously in a notebook with a telephone receiver pressed to her ear. The phone line attached to a steel cable that unrolled off the side of the vessel and plunged into the sea, sinking 3000 feet. There, suspended by the cable, dangled a four-and-a-half-foot steel ball called the bathysphere. Crumpled up inside, gazing through three-inch quartz windows at the undersea world, sat Hollister’s colleague William Beebe. He called up to her excitedly, describing bizarre creatures, explosions of bioluminescence, and strange effects of light and color. Hollister, listening amid rocking waves, tried to get down everything she heard.
The story of The Bathysphere Book springs from the original expedition logbooks—the first eyewitness account of the deep ocean. They possess a strange poetry, scientific vocabulary shot through with the thrill of the new, and an erotic charge due to the illicit affair Hollister and Beebe were carrying on. The expedition launched from an expansive, transforming America, as streetlights came on in New York City and the Great Plains baked to dust. Backers ranged from eugenicist conservatives to billionaire socialists, while the expedition staff was a ragtag team of eccentrics who socialized with iconic figures of the period, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Gypsy Rose Lee. The bathysphere was the subject of much media attention and made the team famous. Prefiguring NASA’s blue marble photograph, the first images of the deep ocean offered a new sense of the planetary. The book will include archival images as well as a few reproductions of illustrations by expedition artists.
The Bathysphere Book delights in the human drama that surrounds this groundbreaking move into the deep ocean, a story of one visionary encounter with the unknown.