Underwater explorers say they've found plastic in deepest ocean trench

Explorer reaches deepest spot on Earth in historic dive

An announcement made Monday said that on May 1, the 53-year-old Vescovo descended 35,853 feet, or almost seven miles into the bottom of Challenger Deep, which is part of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, according to CNN.

Victor Vescovo journeyed 10,927 meters (35,853 feet) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the southern end of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, as part of a mission to chart the world's deepest underwater places. His dive went 52 feet (16 meters) lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960. It's only fair to assume that undiscovered species and evolution taking its course will unearth new deep-sea life forms in dives like Five Deeps'.

In the last three weeks, the expedition has made four dives in the Mariana Trench in his submarine "DSV Limiting Factor", collecting biological and rock samples.

Photos showing Victor Vescovo, his launch in Triton submersible, the bottom of Mariana Trench, and Vescovo being congratulated by Don Walsh courtesy of the Deep Five Expeditions and Discovery Channel.

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

Vescovo's solo dive was punctuated by 248 minutes spent on the bottom exploring the basin, which the expedition team said "is now the longest period of time ever spent on the bottom of the ocean by an individual".

Images from the fourth of The Five Deeps dive to Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean. The Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

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". Scientists on Vescovo's team plan to conduct tests on some of the creatures to discern the levels of microplastics in their bodies, which could further bolster the claim of the man-made material's presence in the ocean depths. It's part of the Five Deeps Expedition, which is charting the ocean's five deepest areas.

It was the third time humans dived to the deepest point in the ocean, known as Challenger Deep.

"It's nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", Vescovo said.

What's more shocking in the report is the epidemic proportions of plastic in the world's oceans, with an estimated 100 million tonnes dumped there to date.

A documentary series that chronicles his expedition will air on Discovery Channel later this year. The group is using a submersible called Limiting Factor to complete its challenge.



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