The deepest ever ocean dive discovered litter at the bottom of Mariana Trench, raising questions about the extent of plastic pollution.
In oceans, rivers, soil and sand, even inside the bodies of humans and animals, lurk tiny particles of plastic. It appears that nowhere on the planet is immune to plastic pollution with the news that the deepest ever ocean dive by a human on a submarine may have discovered plastic waste in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.
Texan businessman and explorer Victor Vescovo made the discovery as he travelled nearly 35,853ft (10,927 meters) on a solo expedition to the bottom of the Eastern Pool of Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point on the face of the planet. Vescovo, working with Five Deeps Expedition, set a record for the deepest solo dive in history, beating Titanic director James Cameron’s record from 2012.
As Vescovo plumbed the depths of the Mariana Trench on 28 April, it’s believed he discovered fragments of manmade material on the ocean floor. A spokesperson for Five Deeps Expedition told Lonely Planet that they’re working to confirm if the material is indeed plastic. Vescovo was unable to retrieve the material but a photograph (not seen here) suggests it’s some sort of plastic bag or packaging.
It’s not even the first time plastic has been discovered in this remote part of the planet. A study released in October 2018 documented a shopping bag at a depth of 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench. Last year scientists also discovered extremely high levels of microplastics there. The analysis, published in Geochemical Perspectives Letters, shows that nowhere on earth is safe from human impact.
Between 28 April and 5 May, 2019, Vescovo made four solo dives to Challenger Deep in his submarine, DSV Limiting Factor. On 7 May he made one final five to the Sirena Deep, which is also in the Mariana Trench, collecting rock and biological samples that may offer clues about the origins of life on earth.
The Five Deeps Expedition is being filmed by Atlantic Productions for a five-part Discovery Channel documentary series due to air in late 2019.
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