Explorer finds trash on submarine dive to deepest place on earth

Far left: Retired naval officer Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11,000m in the submarine DSV Limiting Factor to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. Left: An object, described by an expedition spokesman as "man-made", illuminated by the sub
Retired naval officer Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11,000m in the submarine DSV Limiting Factor to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench.PHOTO: REUTERS
Far left: Retired naval officer Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11,000m in the submarine DSV Limiting Factor to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. Left: An object, described by an expedition spokesman as "man-made", illuminated by the sub
An object, described by an expedition spokesman as "man-made", illuminated by the submarine's light on the floor of the trench, which is the deepest place on earth. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.

Retired naval officer Victor Vescovo said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 11,000m to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on earth.

His dive went 16m lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.

Mr Vescovo found undiscovered species as he visited places no human had gone before. On one occasion, he spent four hours on the floor of the trench, viewing sea life ranging from shrimp-like arthropods with long legs and antennae to translucent "sea pigs" similar to a sea cucumber.

He also saw angular metal or plastic objects, one with writing on it.

"It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean," Mr Vescovo said in an interview.

Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions in the world's oceans, with an estimated 100 million tonnes dumped there to date, according to the United Nations.

Mr Vescovo hoped his discovery of trash in the Mariana Trench would raise awareness about dumping in the oceans and pressure governments to better enforce existing regulations, or put new ones in place.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'Explorer finds trash on submarine dive to deepest place on earth'. Print Edition | Subscribe