Deepest ever dive made by man into the Mariana trench unearths plastic

Federico Mansilla
May 15, 2019

The dive on May 1, which broke a record previously set by "Titanic" director James Cameron in 2012, uncovered disheartening evidence of humans' destructive impact on the planet: plastic bags and wrappers floating in the deepest depths of the ocean.

During their descent, the expedition crew saw a number of sea creatures - a spoon worm at 7000 metres and a pink snailfish at 8000m - and believe they discovered four new species of crustaceans called amphipods, similar to prawns.

They also discovered brightly colored rocky outcrops that were possibly created by microbes on the seabed, according to the BBC.

"It's nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", Vescovo said. It's part of the Five Deeps Expedition, which is charting the ocean's five deepest areas.

"There were some small, translucent animals", Vescovo said. While the statement included details of the voyage, which included four dives into the deep-sea trench over the course of three weeks, beginning in April, it did not make any mention of the waste discovered on the floor.

The team next plans to conduct dives in the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean.

The dive was the first for The Five Deeps Expedition, funded by Vescovo, and is being filmed for a Discovery Channel documentary.

Sea creatures swim around part of a submersible lander, illuminated by the light of the submarine DSV Limiting Factor on the floor of the Mariana Trench.

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Vescovo said he wasn't surprised by the discovery, though, disappointed to see "human contamination" in the deep ocean.

Millions of tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year, but where it all goes it a bit of mystery.

Mr Vescovo's latest dive is part of the "Five Deeps expedition", where he is attempting to explore the deepest parts of all five oceans.

It was the third time humans dived to the deepest point in the ocean, known as Challenger Deep.

Vescovo says he's proud of these scientific finds - and also that the team's got a submersible that's up for the challenge.

"This vehicle is effectively a reliable elevator that can transport us to any depth, in any ocean".

These conditions also made it challenging to capture footage - the Five Deeps expedition has been followed by Atlantic Productions for a documentary for the Discovery Channel. The Limiting Factor is described as the world's first two-person, titanium-hulled submersible fully tested to 120% of full ocean depth.

Bottom of the ocean: Vescovo used a submersible called The Limiting Factor to reach the ocean floor, almost 11 kilometers below the surface, in The Challenge Deep, a trench in the Pacific Ocean.

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