Dallas businessman Victor Vescovo became the deepest diving human in history when his Five Deeps Expedition reached the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Challenger Deep on April 28, the expedition disclosed Monday.
Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended almost 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 meters) to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth.
Sitting there in the deepest point of the planet, Vescovo also came across a plastic bag and candy wrappers.
While discovering plastic in the ocean's depths isn't new, scientists will now begin testing the creatures collected to see if they contain microplastics. At 26,247 feet (8,000 m), they observed Mariana snailfish and supergiant amphipods (Alicella species) - creatures about 20 times larger than typical amphipods.
Until now, only two people have successfully made it to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the planet's deepest point at the southern end of the Mariana Trench.
"It's nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", Vescovo said.
An American undersea explorer has completed what is claimed to be the deepest manned sea dive ever recorded - returning to the surface with the depressing news that there's plastic trash down there. In addition to the creatures, they discovered something that past expeditions have not: pollution.
Due to the small difference in measured depths between the Challenger and Horizon Deeps, Vescovo and team plan to find out once and for all if the Tonga Trench is actually deeper than the Mariana Trench.
After the conclusion of the dives, the submersible - built to withstand 1000 bars of pressure - will be given to researchers at science institutions to continue exploring the ocean's depths. There is also growing evidence that they are carbon sinks, playing a role in regulating the Earth's chemistry and climate.
"Six decades ago, Jacques Piccard and I were the first to visit that deepest place in the world's oceans". Humanity's impact had reached the deepest parts of the sea floor, too, the team realized. Canadian movie maker James Cameron was the last to visit in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 35,787 feet (10,908 meters). Vescovo, a private equity investor, is funding the expeditions. Vescovo is planning to complete his historic expedition in late August when he dives the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.
Vescovo has lead dives in the Atlantic's Puerto Rico Trench, the South Sandwich Trench and the Indian Ocean's Java Trench.
At the deepest point, they were accompanied by some transparent bottom-dwelling sea cucumbers (Holothurians) and an amphipod called the Hirondellia gigas. According to the BBC, the pressure at the bottom of the ocean is equal to about 50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person.
Once thought to be remote, desolate areas, the deep sea teems with life.