An American diver has found a plastic bag nearly seven miles beneath the surface of the ocean, during a record-breaking dive. Victor Vescovo spent four hours exploring the deepest place in the ocean, the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, where he found sea creatures but also found a plastic bag and candy wrappers.
Vescovo beat a record set in 2012 by film director James Cameron and used robotic landers to explore the area beneath the sea. The latest descent, which reached 10,927m (35,849ft) beneath the waves, is now the deepest by 11m – making Victor Vescovo the new record holder. It is the third time humans have reached the ocean’s extreme depths.
Most of the plastic found at the bottom of the sea by divers (89%) has one thing in common, the Deep Sea Debris Database reported: it’s waste such as plastic bottles and bags, designed to be used just once, then thrown away.
Mr. Vescovo and his team made a total of five dives to the bottom of the trench during the expedition. The team believes they discovered four new species of prawn-like crustaceans called amphipods, saw a creature called a spoon worm 7,000m-down and a pink snailfish at 8,000m. They also discovered brightly colored rocky outcrops, possibly created by microbes on the seabed, and collected samples of rock from the seafloor reports the BBC.
The impact humans are having on the planet was also evident with the discovery of plastic pollution. It’s something that other expeditions using landers have seen before. Millions of tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year, but little is known about where a lot of it ends up. The scientists now plan to test the creatures they collected to see if they contain microplastics – a recent study found this was a widespread problem, even for animals living in the deep.