It’s the race for riches in one of the most inhospitable places on earth: the deepest depths of the ocean floor.
In a contest much like the space race of the 1960s, the world’s most advanced countries are competing to be the first to explore and lay claim to the valuable minerals deposited on the seabed.
“We’re facing a new gold rush down in the deep ocean… down five, ten thousand metres on the bottom,” deep-sea ecologist Professor David Booth tells Melissa Doyle in an interview to air on this week's Sunday Night.
As well as a treasure trove of rare minerals, there are also other-worldly creatures to be discovered - and maybe even answers to how life began on Earth.
It’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of the action.
The Americans, Japanese and English are all taking part in their own explorations, but it’s the Chinese that have the edge with their state of the art technology.
While other countries are sending robots to the deepest parts of the ocean, China is sending scientists who risk their lives with every dive.
Sunday Night was given unprecedented access to a diving expedition 1200 kilometres off the coast of Africa.
Four kilometres under the surface, China’s most experienced submariner, Fuen Tao, navigates an underwater vent, spewing out super-heated water and deadly gases.
Down here, one mistake could mean disaster.
Watch Melissa Doyle’s full story on underwater exploration this Sunday 7pm on Channel 7.