It was a day of joyous celebration. Deep sea diver Victor Vescovo pushed down seven miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, setting a record for the deepest dive of all time. Vescovo joined two other divers — American navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard, who dove in 1960 — as the sole divers to ever reach the bottom of the trench, with Vescovo reaching about 36 feet deeper than his predecessors.
But news of the record-breaking dive has been overshadowed by what Vescovo found lurking on the ocean floor, 35,849 feet below the ocean surface. His mission found at least one plastic bag along with multiple candy wrappers, signifying that the impact of humanity’s filthy obsession with plastic has reached the farthest depths of our planet.
Beyond the discovery of plastic litter, the mission proved to be a successful undertaking. The ocean floor teems with life, as evidenced by the microbes collected on the mission. Over the course of four hours exploring these deep depths, the mission released robotic ocean floor crawlers to conduct studies of the deep ocean. Exploring inside a submersible craft built by Triton Submarines, Vescovo also collected rock from the seafloor and believes they have discovered four new species of crustaceans called amphipods.
This dive effort is one of five being undertaken by Vescovo and his team. Dubbed the Five Deeps, they will attempt to reach the deepest point of each of the world’s five oceans. Vescovo, who is privately funding the expeditions, has also climbed the tallest mountain on each continent, according to a BBC report. The expeditions are scheduled to be completed this year before the submersible is donated to scientific institutions for further research.