On April 28, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Victor Vescovo climbed into the cramped cockpit of his personal $48 million submersible and descended beneath the waves deeper than any human being had been.
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Making multiple trips almost 11 km to the ocean floor - one of them four hours in duration - Vescovo set a record for the deepest solo dive in history, his team said.
"There were some small, translucent animals", Vescovo said. (That's like having 50 jumbo jets piled on your head-so definitely don't step outside.) Built by the US-based company Triton Submarines, Limiting Factor was created to make multiple repeated dives to the deepest parts of the ocean.
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A key mission objective was to capture video evidence of what was at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, which was first explored in 1960.
Sir David Attenborough, a naturalist and wildlife campaigner, reacted to Vescovo's unsavory find at the bottom of the Mariana Trench by calling plastic in the sea an "unfolding catastrophe" that we "ignore at our peril".
"We wanted to prove the capability of the submarine and the whole system by diving there repeatedly and really, hopefully, opening the door for science", Vescovo said.
The Five Deeps Expedition is being filmed by Atlantic Productions for a five-part Discovery Channel documentary series due to air in late 2019.
Technology has changed quite a bit since the Challenger Deep was first explored in 1960 by oceanographers Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard in the submersible Triest. According to the CNN, the expedition team stated that they plan to test these samples to check how much plastic gets ingested.
In the May/June issue of Hydro International we'll publish an article about the Five Deeps Expedition.
At the deepest point, they were accompanied by some transparent bottom-dwelling sea cucumbers (Holothurians) and an amphipod called the Hirondellia gigas.
Taking the hours-long journey to what is believed to be the deepest point mankind has visited in any ocean was a complicated one, and for Victor Vescovo, it meant being constantly on the alert as he monitored his state-of-the-art vessel.
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