In a startling discovery, Texas investor and explorer Victor Vescovo has found plastic objects almost 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 metres) in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench.
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.
In the depths, during those five dives, they discovered red and yellow rocky outcrops that could be chemical deposits or bacterial mats, which are made by chemosynthetic microbes, meaning they can convert carbon-containing molecules into organic matter.
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. Because on previous missions these amphipods have been found to have microplastics in their guts, the team collected samples to test how much.
"It is nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", says Vescovo. "This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to an unprecedented new level by diving - rapidly and repeatedly - into the deepest, harshest area of the ocean". They found one 8,530 feet (2,600 m) below the surface, one 14,600 feet (4,450 m) and two at the deepest point they reached.
After spending hours crisscrossing the bottom of the Challenger Deep, collecting video evidence of different wildlife, geological formations and man-made objects, Vescovo stopped for a second.
The 'Five Deeps' expedition has already successfully reached the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
Vescovo also made progress toward his larger goal.
"Honestly, towards the end, I simply turned the thrusters off, leaned back in the cockpit, and enjoyed a tuna fish sandwich while I very slowly drifted just above the bottom of the deepest place on earth, enjoying the view and appreciating what the team had done technically", he recalls. The pressure at the bottom of the ocean is equal to about 50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person, according to BBC News. Vescovo, a private equity investor, is funding the expeditions.
Five Deeps Expedition believes it has identified at least three new species of marine animal, including a long-appendages amphipod.
Anthony Geffen, creative director of Atlantic Productions, said it was the most complicated filming he'd ever been involved with.
"Our team had to pioneer new camera systems that could be mounted on the submersible, operate at up to 10,000m below sea level and work with robotic landers with camera systems that would allow us to film Victor's submersible on the bottom of the ocean", Geffen told the BBC.
"We also had to design new rigs that would go inside Victor's submersible and capture every moment of Victor's dives".