The deepest manned sea dive ever recorded is claimed to have been completed by an American undersea explorer. However, he returned to the surface with the saddening news that plastic trash also exists down there, CNN reported.
In the mission to chart the deepest underwater places in the world, Victor Vescovo journeyed 10,927 meters (35,853 feet) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the southernmost part of the Mariana Trench of Pacific Ocean.
Vescovo set a record for the deepest solo dive in history, according to his team. He made multiple trips to the ocean floor of nearly 11 kilometers or seven miles, and one of them was four hours’ duration. “Titanic” director James Cameron in 2012 held the previous record.
Besides, observing four new species that could serve as possible clues about life origins on Earth, as per Vescovo, he also found a plastic bag and candy wrappers at the deepest point on the planet. Later his team said that there were ongoing tests to determine the thing he exactly saw, but they believed it is human-made.
Details of Vescovo’s voyage on May 1 were released Monday for the very first time.
The 53-year-old financier with a naval background tells CNN Travel that his journey to the ocean depths was not only about scientific discovery but also to test the endeavor limits in humans.
“Going to the extremes I believe is a natural inclination of man,” Vescovo says.
“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 used a submersible for his voyage called The Limiting Factor to reach the ocean floor. Filmed for Discovery Channel, it is part of a landmark odyssey into the watery depths of the world — dubbed the Five Deeps Expedition.
The mission of the expedition is to conduct the sonar mapping missions at the five deepest spots in our oceans in detail. Along with the Mariana Trench, it also completed surveys of the Puerto Rico Trench of Atlantic Ocean, the South Sandwich Trench of South Atlantic, and the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean.
A trip to the bottom of the never-before unexplored Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean is set to be the next mission which Vescovo will attempt to complete in August 2019.
Some places in the ocean depths are the least explored and remote places on the planet. The depth of the Mariana Trench is more than the height of Mount Everest.
The main objective of the mission was to capture video evidence of what exists at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, which was first explored by oceanographers Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in 1960 using submersible called Bathyscaphe Trieste.
“I criss-crossed all over the bottom looking for different wildlife, potentially unique geological formations or rocks, man-made objects, and yes, trying to see if there was an even deeper location than where the Trieste went all the way back in 1960,” Vescovo says.
The findings in the Challenger Deep expedition included “vibrantly colorful” rocky outcrops that could be chemical deposits, supergiant amphipods – a look-alike of prawn, and bottom-dwelling Holothurians, the sea cucumbers.
The scientists would perform tests on the creatures discovered to determine the percentage of plastics found in them, the team said.
Challenges, Scope, and Achievements
Alan Jamieson, the chief scientist of the expedition, spoke to CNN Travel in April about the discovery of a jellyfish-like creature in the Indian Ocean and the mapping process.
“So far, we’ve made up something like 150,000 square kilometers of deep sea floor now — and we’re only halfway through it. Those maps, once we’ve processed them and cleaned them up, they will get put on online repositories, so they will be made available to anyone who wants to use them,” said Jamieson.
According to Vescovo, he feels proud of these scientific discoveries and also the challenging submersible that the team has got. The Limiting Factor is described as the world’s first two-person, titanium-hulled submersible thoroughly tested to thrive even in 120% of full ocean depth.
“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,” says Vescovo.
“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.”
Vescovo also managed time to enjoy the voyaging moments besides scouring the Challenger Deep seafloor for four hours.
“Honestly, towards the end, I simply turned the thrusters off, leaned back in the cockpit, and enjoyed a tuna fish sandwich while I very slowly drifted just above the bottom of the deepest place on earth, enjoying the view and appreciating what the team had done technically,” he recalls. “It was a very happy, peaceful moment for me. And then I came up.”