Historic deep dive into Pacific's Mariana Trench yields 'obvious human contamination'

Clay Curtis
May 14, 2019

For more than four hours, alone but unfazed, the American businessman and explorer piloted the vessel down into the abyss of the Challenger Deep, the 11km-long depression at the southern tip of the Mariana Trench that contains the deepest known area of the planet's sea bed.

Victor's team found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers. Once at the bottom, he explored the seafloor for four hours in his submersible, The Limiting Factor, according to CNN.

He is attempting to become the first person to travel to the deepest part of the Earth's five oceans and needs only one more dive to complete the Five Deeps: the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean at 18,599 feet.

First, Vescovo will dive to the second deepest trench in the Pacific, the Tonga Trench, he says there is a slim chance it could actually be deeper than the Mariana Trench. Canadian movie maker James Cameron was the last to visit in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 35,787 feet (10,908 meters).

The team said its scientists were going to perform tests on the creatures found to determine the percentage of plastics found in them.

Sir David Attenborough, a naturalist and wildlife campaigner, reacted to Vescovo's unsavory find at the bottom of the Mariana Trench by calling plastic in the sea an "unfolding catastrophe" that we "ignore at our peril".

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.

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On May 1, Vescovo set a record for the deepest dive and deepest solo dive, using a titanium Triton submersible called Limiting Factor to descend 35,853 feet, the Five Deeps Expedition announced Monday morning. Previously, he climbed the highest peaks on each of the planet's seven continents.

The final challenge will be to reach the bottom of the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean, which is now scheduled for August 2019.

The submarine "Limiting Factor" is prepared at a drop point above the Mariana Trench. "That is the story of our species, and I am just so happy that even if in a small way, I have been able to contribute to forward progress".

The creative director of Atlantic Productions, Anthony Geffen, explained it is the hardest thing he has ever filmed, due to the near-freezing temperatures and pitch black the sub operates in.

When the Five Deeps expedition is complete, the researchers plan to pass their findings onto science institutions, which will continued to use their information for studies.

Images from the fourth of The Five Deeps dive to Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean.

They also observed a variety of critters.

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