An American explorer who has broken the world record for the deepest ever ocean dive has found plastic waste at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific as well as four new species of prawn.
Victor Vescovo, the explorer and private equity investor, descended nearly 11km to the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean in a specially built submarine called DSV Limiting Factor. The submersible was built by US company Triton Submarines and is designed to make repeated dives to any part of the ocean.
Mr. Vescovo and his team made five dives to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in what is only the third time ever humans have reached the Ocean’s extreme depths, the BBC reports.
The first dive was in 1960 by US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard.
Mr. Vescovo reached a depth of 10,927 meters, making this the deepest dive by just 11 metres.
“This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving – rapidly and repeatedly – into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean,” said Mr. Vescovo.
The team found what they believe are four new species of crustaceans called amphipods, a spoon worm and a pink snailfish. They also found brightly coloured rocky outcrops, which scientists think may have been created by microbes on the seabed. Once thought to be devoid of life, the deep sea is now known to be home to many creatures, as well as being carbon sinks that play an important role in regulating the world’s climate.
But the expedition also found plastic pollution, even at this remote location. They spotted a plastic bag and two sweet rappers. They will also test the creatures they collected from the depths of the Ocean to find out if they contain microplastics.
Five Deeps Expedition
The dive is part of the Five Deeps Expedition, which aims to explore the deepest points of the world’s five oceans. In the last six months, dives have also taken place in South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean, the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean and Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean. The team will attempt to dive to the bottom of the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean in August this year.
The expedition is being followed by a documentary team from Atlantic Productions who are making a film for the Discovery Channel. The creative director Anthony Geffen said it was the most complicated filming he’d ever undertaken.
“Our team had to pioneer new camera systems that could be mounted on the submersible, operate at up to 10,000m below sea level and work with robotic landers with camera systems that would allow us to film Victor’s submersible on the bottom of the ocean. We also had to design new rigs that would go inside Victor’s submersible and capture every moment of Victor’s dives,” Geffen explained.
DSV Limiting Factor has a 9cm-thick titanium pressure hull that is built to withstand pressure of 11,000 bars, the equivalent weight of 50 jumbo jets. At that depth, the sub also has to operate in freezing temperatures and in complete darkness.
More people have flown to space than have explored the deep ocean or Hadal Zone of between 6,000 and 11,000 meters.