Those of you who are following this year's Vendée Globe race will possibly have heard references to a place called Point Nemo, otherwise known as The Oceanic Pole Of Inaccessibility and, whilst I had never heard of Point Nemo previously, I'm now fascinated.
In a nutshell, Point Nemo, which is named after the Jules Verne character and appropriately, translates from the latin Nemo meaning no one, is is the loneliest, hardest to reach, remotest, farthest from anywhere point on earth. The point lands slap in the middle of some of the deepest waters (over 10,000 feet deep) on our planet, at the coordinates 48°52.5′S 123°23.6′W
It lies a cool 1670 miles or 2688 km away from nearest land of which, Ducie Island, part of the The Pitcairn Islands is the nearest land to the north of the point, Motonui in the Easter Island lies to the North East, and Maher Island in Antarctica is the nearest land to the south of Point Nemo. But to my mind the most striking illustration of just how remote the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility really is, is that the astronauts on the International space station are the closest humans being only 250 miles away from the point. Now that gives context to the remoteness.
Should you decide to sail to Point Nemo, it would take you approximately 1 month in a decent boat with good winds behind you. Should you decide to fly over the fantastically named Oceanic Point of Inaccessibility, it will take you a full ten hours from the nearest airport. It's a long way to nowhere and once you get there there's nothing to see but sea (love a good homophone, don't you?), it's an invisible point in the enormous Southern Ocean.
Bloopers & Wildlife at Point Nemo
In fact there's so little to see that you're unlikely to witness shoals of fish, dolphins or whales. There's nothing. Except some tenacious bacteria floating about in the water, and even then, numbers are about 1/10th of what you would expect in other oceans around the world. And these bacteria are only present because of a ridge of underwater volcanoes on the ocean bed near to Point Nemo, which release nutritious chemicals into the water that these highly specialised bacteria like to feed upon. In turn the ghostly Yeti Crabs feed upon the bacteria. And that my friends, is about as much wildlife as you're likely to see at the Oceanic Point of Inaccessibility.
It's a curious fact, that proximity to land has a positive impact on the health of our seas and oceans. Lands deposit minerals and nutrients into the seas along our coastlines and winds, which are useful for stirring deep oceans are generated as weather systems sweep over land masses. Point Nemo, is simply too far from its nearest land mass for the waters to be enriched or the winds to aerate and move the mass of water and as such is the least biologically active region of the world's oceans.
In 1997, ocean geographers researching in the area detected a bizarre under water sound and for a short time questioned whether the area might be home to an extraordinarily large and as yet unidentified creature, perhaps the Loch Ness Monster of the Southern Ocean. The unusual sound was nick named Bloop, and was quickly identified as the sound of icebergs breaking and collapsing.
The Spacecraft Cemetery
Now Point Nemo may not seem to serve much of a useful purpose, other than being a point of fascination, but it does serve a rather remarkable purpose to NASA.
Point Nemo is in fact known as The Spacecraft Cemetery. It is the designated site for returning space craft and satellites when they crash to earth at the end of their missions. The sheer remoteness and depth of waters make it a very safe landing site. Sadly we manage to litter even this isolated corner of our world, but pragmatically speaking, it is the safest and least environmentally damaging landing zone option.
Pip Hare, Vendée Globe Challenge 2020
We've been following, daily, the inspirational British yachtswoman, Pip Hare, as she races around the bottom oceans of the world, and would like to send her our very best wishes for the rest of her race. If you would also like to follow Pip, you can track her race here and read her blog here. She's quite the modern adventurer and well worth a follow.
Enjoy your week, may it be filled with curiosity.