An American explorer has found plastic waste during a record-breaking victory for the deepest ever ocean dive.
Retired naval officer Victor Vescovo descended nearly seven miles (35,853ft) to the floor of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the sea. Upon reaching the seafloor, Vescovo found a plastic bag, angular metal objects and sweet wrappers.
The Independent reported that Vescovo hoped this discovery would raise awareness about dumping waste in the oceans and pressure governments to strengthen or better enforce regulations.
He said: “It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean. It’s not a big garbage collection pool, even though it’s treated as such.”
During the four hour expedition in his submersible, Vescovo also found undiscovered species such as shrimp-like anthropods and translucent ‘sea pigs.’
The dive was the third time humans have successfully reached the trench’s deepest point, also known as Challenger Deep. The first expedition was made by the US Navy, which recorded a depth of 10,912m (35,800ft) in 1960. The second expedition, by Canadian film director James Cameron, recorded a depth of 10,908m (35,787ft) in 2012.
The news follows findings, by researchers at the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research unit, that biodegradable plastic bags were still in a usable condition after surviving three years in the sea, soil and open-air