A retired naval officer recently broke the record for the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, discovering more than just sea creatures.
Victor Vescovo recently descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Travelling 52ft lower than the previous descent in the trench in 1960, Vescovo spent four hours exploring the surface in a mission which is only the third time a human has reached the ocean’s extreme depths.
Vescovo dove to the surface in his submersible, which is built to with stand the immense pressure of the deep, the BBC reports.
The retired naval officer believes he and his team discovered four new species of prawn-like crustaceans called amphipods, as well as seeing a creature called a spoon worm and a pink snailfish.
Those weren’t the team’s only discoveries though, as they also discovered a plastic bag and sweet wrappers among the sea creatures in the brightly coloured rocky outcrops.
The plastic carrier bag and sweet wrappers prove just how negative an impact humanity is having on the planet, with plastic pollution becoming a recurring theme in these deep sea dives.
As per The Guardian, Stephanie Fitzherbert, a spokesperson for Vescovo’s Five Deeps Expedition, confirmed Vescovo found the manmade material on the ocean floor and is trying to confirm that it is plastic.
A massive 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year, according to the United Nations, making plastic a major contributor to ocean pollution which can persist in the environment for centuries.
The first dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench took place in 1960 by US Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard. Film director James Cameron later embarked on a solo dive in 2012.
Vescovo, whose dive is the deepest by 16 metres, said, as per the BBC:
It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did.
This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving – rapidly and repeatedly – into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean.
In total, Vescovo and his team made five dives to the bottom of the trench during the expedition, also using robotic landers to explore the remote terrain.
The scientists now plan to test the creatures they collected to see if they contain microplastics.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).