This May, American Victor Vescovo broke the standing record of the world’s deepest solo dive, venturing 7 miles into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, where he discovered four potential new species as well as plastic waste and candy wrappers.
Vescovo is a wealth equity investor with an interest in ocean exploration. He traveled in a high-tech submersible that can withstand enormous amounts of pressure from the 35,849-foot descent. In fact, the submarine is capable of withstanding the weight of “50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person,” according to the BBC.
“It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” Vescovo told BBC. “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.”
The mission was to collect data and video footage of what is thought to be the deepest ocean trench in the world. During his expedition, Vescovo also may have found a new crustacean as well as three other new species, including a relative of the sea cucumber.
Samples of the new species will also be tested to see if they contain microplastics. The discovery of plastic in the farthest reaches of the world is disappointing, but not surprising given the scale of the plastic waste problem. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Data collection expeditions to the ocean trenches also contribute to increasing evidence that these deep sea depressions can store higher amounts of carbon than the rest of the ocean and therefore may play an important role in mitigating climate change.
Image via Jessie Sgouros