National Geographic : 2012 Sep
• en we are untied, dri ing, a tiny dot on the immense Paci c Ocean. Pilot Avi Klapfer oods the ballast tanks, and we sink, surrounded by bubbles. It's like falling into a glass of cham- pagne, and we feel appropriately giddy. A diver pokes through the bubbles to make a nal ad- justment to the camera housing mounted on the outside of the sub. Out there with the camera are hydraulics, thrusters, and hundreds of other essential parts that will keep us safe. Three of us---Klapfer, photographer Brian Skerry, and I---are crammed inside DeepSee's ve-foot sphere, surrounded by communication equipment, pressure valves, controls, snacks, cameras, special bags to urinate in: everything we need for our quest to reach a seamount named Las Gemelas. Its cluster of peaks, rarely seen up close before, rises from the bottom of the Paci c near Cocos Island, miles south- west of Cabo Blanco in Costa Rica. e highest peak here is more than , feet tall. Seamounts generally form when volcanic mountains rise up from the sea oor but fail to reach the surface (those that break the surface become islands). Scientists estimate that there BY GREGORY S. STONE PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN SKERRY Gregory S. Stone is a senior vice president and chief ocean scientist at Conservation International. Brian Skerry's book Ocean Soul was published in 2011. Sealed in our submersible, DeepSee, we wait, watch- ing the crew on Argo's deck shout orders to each other--- a movie without a sound track.