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Deepest ever dive finds plastic bag at bottom of Mariana Trench

14 May 2019

For more than four hours, alone but unfazed, the American businessman and explorer piloted the vessel down into the abyss of the Challenger Deep, the 11km-long depression at the southern tip of the Mariana Trench that contains the deepest known area of the planet's sea bed.

In among the prawn-like creatures, diver Victor Vescovo also found pollution.

He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his sub, built to withstand the huge pressure of the deep ocean.

But Vescovo and his team are not stopping now, with another dive of the Horizon Deep within the Tonga Trench in the South Pacific Ocean coming up next.

Besides for breaking the record for a manned sub dive in the Mariana Trench, the latest dive down to the deepest point underwater found a heartrending discovery: The existence of the plastic waste on the bottom of the ocean.

In the next step, the team said its scientists were going to perform tests on the creatures found to in order to have a clear picture about the percentage of plastics found in them.

Vescovo found the manmade material on the ocean floor and is trying to confirm that it is plastic. It is only the third time humans have reached the sea's extreme depths. A total of four dives in eight days made it the first submersible to ever visit the bottom of the Challenger Deep a couple of times, capturing videos and conducting efficiency tests in the process.

Vescovo hopes his discovery of trash in the Mariana Trench will raise awareness of how much is dumped in the oceans, and will pressure governments to better enforce existing regulations, or put new ones in place.

They also discovered brightly coloured rocky outcrops, possibly created by microbes on the seabed, and collected samples of rock from the seafloor.

Vescovo's journey was filmed for Discovery Channel and has been dubbed the "Five Deeps Expedition".

The Molloy Deep has yet to be explored, and Vescovo's team will be there in August, according to CNN.

The group is using a submersible called Limiting Factor to complete its challenge. In 2012, movie director James Cameron made a solo trip into the Mariana Trench, however Mr Vescovo's team broke Cameron's previous records by about 11 metres. The pressure at the bottom of the ocean is equal to about 50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person, according to BBC News. Atlantic Productions for Discovery Channel/Tamara Stubbs/Handout via REUTERS.

When the Five Deeps expedition is complete, the researchers plan to pass their findings onto science institutions, which will continued to use their information for studies.

The challenges of exploring the deep ocean - even with robotic vehicles - has made the ocean trenches one of the last frontiers on the planet. There is also growing evidence that they are carbon sinks, playing a role in regulating the Earth's chemistry and climate.

Deepest ever dive finds plastic bag at bottom of Mariana Trench