Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Record Mariana Trench ocean dive discovers plastic bags, new species

James Cameron emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible after his successful solo dive to the Mariana Trench Explorer reaches deepest spot on Earth in historic dive
Sandra Phillips | 15 May, 2019, 14:35

Undersea explorer and investor Victor Vescovo found signs of plastic pollution on a dive in a custom-built submersible in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world's oceans.

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.

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

Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of it now found in the world's oceans, according to the United Nations.

He is also the first human to make multiple dives, solo, to its hadal depths in the DSV Limiting Factor (Triton 36000/2 model submersible) the world's deepest diving, now operational submarine.

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

Canadian filmmaker James Cameron was the last to visit in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 10,908 meters.

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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Mr Vescovo found a plastic bag and lolly wrappers, as well as four new species of prawn. Its mission is to chart and conduct detailed sonar mapping at the five deepest places in the ocean: the Puerto Rico Trench (Atlantic Ocean), the South Sandwich Trench (South Atlantic), the Java Trench (Indian Ocean) and Molloy Deep (Arctic Ocean), according to CNN.

A type of long-appendaged amphipod was discovered at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench.

Down there he found fantastic sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

"We feel like we have just created, validated and opened a powerful door to discover and visit any place, any time, in the ocean - which is 90 percent unexplored", said Vescovo.

He explained the expedition "took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving - rapidly and repeatedly - into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean".

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

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

After the Five Deeps expedition is complete later this year, the plan is to pass the submersible onto science institutions so researchers can continue to use it.

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