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Deepest underwater dive in human history finds plastic on ocean floor

14 May 2019

Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, 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, his expedition said in a statement on Monday.

On the bright side, his team says it found four new species and marveled at a colorful underwater world.

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. Vescovo's recent dive broke the record for the deepest decent into the world's oceans, reaching a depth of 35,849 feet and beating the previous record by 36 feet.

Canadian filmmaker James Cameron was the last to visit in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 10,908 meters. The Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

His submarine, "Limiting Factor" also made history. Since our dives don't have near the physical trauma associated with extreme mountain climbing, I do believe what Sir Hillary and Tenzing did was more overall more hard and certainly intense. Long before that, in 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh together descended 35,813 feet into the Mariana Trench.

The expedition has explored the deepest points of four of the five oceans so far, leaving only the Arctic Ocean's Molloy Deep, exploration of which is scheduled for August 2019.

Victor Vescovo and his team are in the middle of the Five Deeps Expedition. The group is using a submersible called Limiting Factor to complete its challenge.

His voyage, in a submersible named The Limiting Factor, is part of a landmark odyssey into the world's watery depths that's being filmed for Discovery Channel - dubbed the Five Deeps Expedition.

"I always had the urge to explore, even as a little kid", Vescovo said.

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.

The Five Deeps Expedition is exploring the planet's deepest undersea places.

"It's just an unfortunate effect of multiple billions people on earth and all we consume", he said.

As well as the plastic, the team identified at least three new sea animals.

Diving isn't Vescovo's only passion- he's also a climber.

It was chilly; it was quiet; and "it was so very peaceful", he told Live Science.