THE BATHYSPHERE BOYS: The Depth-Defying Diving of Messrs. Beebe and Barton

The Bathysphere Boys

The Bathysphere Boys
© Ted Enik and G.F. Newland

Back in 1930, William Beebe and Otis Barton were plunged into international notoriety when they took a series of deepsea dives in a hollow steel ball, their “Bathysphere.” It was a rather bare-bones contraption: lowered and reeled back up on cables tethered to a rocking boat, and equipped with limited lighting, stale air, no cushions, a single hatchway, and three tiny portholes used for discovering unanticipated Wonders of The Deep.

The Bathysphere was designed by Engineering Grad Student / Child of Privilege, Otis Barton, for the already-famous Explorer / Science Journalist, William Beebe, and this mismatched twosome made a series of historic dives in it. Never before could a Marine Biologist actually see deepsea creatures live, within the blackness of their home turf.

After several false starts and near calamities, on June 11, 1930, Beebe and Barton reached a depth of about 1,300 feet. And in 1934, the duo hit a whopping 3,028 feet down.

Throughout these dives, the Bathysphere proved its worth but simultaneously exhibited some potentially serious flaws: even a hairline crack in one of its quartz portholes would have allowed tons of pressurized seawater to explode-in and crush the Aquanauts instantly. It was virtually unnavigable, and a break in the slack suspension cable would have meant certain death.

Nonetheless, Beebe and Barton broke several consecutive World Records for the deepest manned-dives ever.

Excerpt:

Beefy Marines with their weaponry ready
Stand guard as the Crew holds a — can’t tell yet — steady.

Their salty hub-bubbling fills in The Plot,
And we learn (between cursing) The Story is not

About Smuggling, War, or a Rescue at Sea.
`Seems a deep-water Nuclear Bomb Test released

A freak Beast from a crack in the floor of The Ocean
(Or some interchangeable Jules Verne-ish notion).

            ~ o ~   

Oh! The Crew’s been equipping a Diving Contraption!
The Scene, as a whole, qualifies for the caption:

“Mankind on the Brink of Exploring The Drink.”
Then the Doc gets the dunk and commences to sink.

             ~ o ~

We cut to on-deck. “Look! The cable’s gone slack!”
Yep, the Nuclear Dinosaur snarfed down a snack.

Burp.

The Creature is killed (many model-stomps later)
In ol’ Coney Island. Goodbye Giant Gator!

* * *

What’s fun is, the History’s pretty intact there.
You take out the monster, the rest of it’s Fact:

• Daring Gentleman Scientist-Cowboy-Explorer — check.
• Yearns to observe deepsea fauna and flora — check.
• Hits The Abyss in this small metal sphere…
• And survives! He’s an Oceanographical Miracle Man.

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