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At 35K Feet, Divers Make Grim Discovery

But explorer Victor Vescovo also makes history
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2019 2:40 PM CDT
Updated May 18, 2019 12:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – Those candy wrappers you threw out? The deepest deep-sea dive ever may have just found them, the BBC reports. American explorer Victor Vescovo journeyed down a record 35,853 feet in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench on May 1 and stumbled on two signs of human presence on Earth—wrappers and a plastic bag. On the bright side, his team says it found four new species and marveled at a colorful underwater world. "It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did," says Vescovo. "This submarine and its mother ship ... took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving—rapidly and repeatedly—into the deepest, harshest, area of the ocean." The descent beat the standing 2012 record of 35,787 feet by director James Cameron, per CNN.

Using a titanium-hulled, two-person submersible called The Limiting Factor, Vescovo spent four hours searching the ocean floor. He says it was quiet and chilly at 16,000 pounds of pressure per square inch: "It was so very peaceful," he tells LiveScience. "I was surrounded by enormous pressure, but I was safely cocooned in my technological bubble." His team apparently discovered four kinds of amphipods—shell-less, prawn-like crustaceans—and collected other amphipods to see if they, like samples in previous missions, had ingested microplastics. The dive was part of the Five Deeps Expedition, for which Vescovo has also reached the deepest parts of the Indian, Southern, and Atlantic oceans; the Arctic Ocean dive is planned for August. The Discovery Channel plans to air a series about it called Deep Planet later in 2019. (In related news, a man floated across the Atlantic in a giant barrel.)

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