In deepest-ever submarine dive, explorer finds trash on ocean floor

Olive Hawkins
May 18, 2019

This isn't a one-off dive either, Vescovo has made four dives over the last three weeks into the Mariana Trench to collect various biological and rock samples.

Victor Vescovo and his team made this startling discovery while descending almost 11km (seven miles) to the Mariana Trench in Pacific Ocean, reports said.

However, Stephanie Fitzeherbert, a spokeswoman for Vescovo's team says that can't be confirmed.

Most of the plastic found at the bottom of the sea by divers (89%) has one thing in common, the Deep Sea Debris Database reported: it's waste such as plastic bottles and bags, created to be used just once, then thrown away.

Vescovo dove in a submersible called the Limiting Factor, now the world's deepest-diving operational submarine.

"I think nearly exactly 12 hours, [i.e.] four hours on the bottom, which I think is the longest anyone has ever been on the bottom of the Challenger Deep".

Due to the small difference in measured depths between the Challenger and Horizon Deeps, Vescovo and team plan to find out once and for all if the Tonga Trench is actually deeper than the Mariana Trench.

"It is nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", Mr Vescovo said after arriving in Guam after the completion of the dives. More worrisome was that Vescovo reported coming across a plastic bag and candy wrappers. The first expedition to reach the bottom was undertaken in 1960 by Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard in the Trieste, a US Navy deep-diving research bathyscape.

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Victor said, "It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean".

A documentary series that chronicles his expedition will air on Discovery Channel later this year.

Titanic director James Cameron repeated the feat in 2012.

The waste was never retrieved so it's hard to ever know whether it was indeed a plastic bag, but the discovery may still indicate that all is not well at the bottom of the world's oceans. Victor is the third person to have dived to the deepest point in the ocean, known as Challenger Deep.

Video clips by Atlantic Productions of Vescovo landing on ocean soil do point out an unidentified object in an otherwise barren-looking floor.

In the May/June issue of Hydro International we'll publish an article about the Five Deeps Expedition.

The challenges of exploring the deep ocean - even with robotic vehicles - has made the ocean trenches one of the last frontiers on the planet.

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