SALT LAKE CITY — Victor Vescovo has just broken the record for the deepest manned solo dive in history, and he returned with depressing news: there’s plastic waste down there.
An announcement made Monday said that on May 1, the 53-year-old Vescovo descended 35,853 feet, or nearly seven miles into the bottom of Challenger Deep, which is part of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, according to CNN.
Vescovo was part of a mission to chart the world’s deepest underwater places, and the Mariana Trench is considered the deepest place in the ocean, according to the BBC.
"It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” Vescovo told the BBC. "This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving — rapidly and repeatedly — into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean."
Vescovo made multiple trips through the trench. Once at the bottom, he explored the seafloor for four hours in his submersible, The Limiting Factor, according to CNN.
Vescovo’s team discovered four potentially new species of prawn-like crustaceans called amphipods, a spoon worm at 7,000 meters and a pink snailfish at 8,000 meters.
They also discovered brightly colored rocky outcrops that were possibly created by microbes on the seabed, according to the BBC.
Vescovo’s mission also discovered less than exciting findings: plastic bags and candy wrappers at the bottom of the trench.
Scientists plan on testing the creatures collected on the expedition to see if they contain microplastics.
Vescovo, a financier with a naval background, told CNN that his journey was about testing human limits as much as scientific discovery.
"Going to the extremes I believe is a natural inclination of man," Vescovo said. “I think it is a wonderful part of human nature that makes us want to push ourselves to the limits, which has helped propel us as a species to where we are now."
Vescovo’s journey was filmed for Discovery Channel and has been dubbed the “Five Deeps Expedition.” 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.
The Molloy Deep has yet to be explored, and Vescovo’s team will be there in August, according to CNN.
According to BBC, the first dive into the Mariana Trench occurred in 1960 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard.
The previous deep solo dive record was held by “Titanic” and “Avatar” director James Cameron, who completed the dive in 2012.
"I felt like I literally in the space of one day have gone to another planet and come back,” Cameron told CNN at the time.1 comment on this story
"You know, there's so much we don't know," Cameron added. "I'm hopeful that we'll be able to study the ocean before we destroy it."
Vescovo said, "It is very important to us that we show some initial scientific discoveries, just to give a small sample of what we could do if the sub was in the hands of a professional research organization.”
"That is my sincere hope — to sell the system to an institute, government, or individual, that can use the whole diving system to advance marine science for decades to come."