Science

Plastic found during historic ocean dive in Mariana Trench

Plastic found during historic ocean dive in Mariana Trench”

U.S. man Victor Vescovo broke the record for the deepest dive ever in a submarine at a depth of 11 kilometres to the Mariana Trench.

Deep sea explorer Victor Vescovo, a 53-year-old financier and former Navy Reserve commander, traveled almost seven miles to the floor of the Challenger Deep, a relatively uncharted area at the southern tip of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.

Technology has changed quite a bit since the Challenger Deep was first explored in 1960 by oceanographers Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the submersible Triest. Vescovo's dive was the deepest on record.

Vescovo, a private equity investor who climbed the world's highest peaks before taking on the world's deepest ocean depths, funded the diving expedition into the Mariana Trench himself, according to the BBC.

According to the Dallas News, at the very bottom of the Challenger Deep Vescovo found a plastic bag and other bits of trash.

Vescovo undertook his dive alone in a submersible called the DSV Limiting Factor created to withstand extreme pressures.

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.

The last visit to Challenger Deep also set a depth record at 35,787 feet.

"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", Geffen told the BBC.

But Vescovo and his team are not stopping now, with another dive of the Horizon Deep within the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean coming up next.

On one occasion, he spent four hours on the trench floor, viewing sea life ranging from shrimp-like anthropods with long legs and antennae, to translucent sea pigs, which are similar to sea cucumbers. The Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

In the next step, the team said its scientists were going to perform tests on the creatures found to in order to have a clear picture about the percentage of plastics found in them. Sitting there in the deepest point of the planet, Vescovo also came across a plastic bag and candy wrappers.

"It is nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", he said in a release after the completion of the dives.

The United Nations estimates 100 million tons of plastic waste already occupies the world's oceans and large volumes of microplastic have been discovered in the intestinal tracts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals, UK's Telegraph newspaper reported.

Before now, the Five Deeps Expedition surveyed the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean, and the South Sandwich and Java Trenches in the Indian Ocean. The group is using a submersible called Limiting Factor to complete its challenge.



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