Plastic found in the Mariana Trench
The explorer and former US Navy Victor Vescovo descended 10.927 meters deep with his submarine. It was May 1 2019, in the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean. This exploit was unfortunately also marked by the discovery, at such a depth, of a plastic bag.
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The Marianas Trench is the deepest known oceanic trench, the deepest part of the Earth’s crust. In the kingdom of the abyss where man has never been before, Victor Vescovo has achieved a record already beaten by human waste.
A sad discovery in the oceanic Mariana Trench
The dive was aboard the submarine “DSV Limiting Factor” as part of a program filmed for Discovery Channel and entitled ’The Five Deeps Expedition’. It took 3.5 to 4 hours to reach the depth record. Even at about 11,000 meters deep the human species has managed to leave traces of its presence. Equipped with a camera, Victor Vescovo filmed a particularly shocking but increasingly frequent scene, which he unveiled in a press release. Placed on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean: a plastic bag, candy wrappers, and even metal parts. For him, “It was obviously distressed to see human contamination at the deepest point of the oceans” and he grieved that the ocean is “treated like a gigantic trash”.
the plastic reaches the deepest pit of the ocean
The United Nations has estimated that there are nearly 100 million tons of waste in our oceans of which only 1% is stagnant on the surface. Each year, nearly 5 to 13 million pieces of waste are added to it. This situation threatens ecosystems and biodiversity. A study, published by the World Bank, stated that marine litter was present in all marine turtles studied, in 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabirds was found in the Philippines with 40 kilos of plastic waste the water had swallowed.
Plastic microparticles have even been found in many species of fish and seafood sold for human consumption. If this continues, some forecasts predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
Life in the Mariana abyss
From a biological point of view, the mission team expects to have discovered, in total, four new crustacean species. Victor Vescovo has, for example, observed amphipods, long-legged shrimps and antennae, or translucent “sea pigs” similar to sea cucumbers. These creatures will be studied to see if they contain plastic elements or not. Rocks and living organisms were also collected to conduct a health check of the depths.
It was the third time humans have plunged deep into the ocean, called the Challenger Deep. Canadian filmmaker James Cameron was the last to do so in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 35,787 feet 10,908 meters. Prior to Cameron’s dive, the first expedition to Challenger Deep was conducted by the US Navy in 1960 at a depth of 10,912 meters.