In deepest-ever submarine dive, explorer finds trash on ocean floor

Explorer reaches deepest spot on Earth in historic dive

During the April 28-May 5 expedition to the Mariana Trench, the team also completed a dive to the bottom of Sirena Deep, about 128 miles away from Challenger Deep.

This deepest point in the Mariana Trench is known as Challenger Deep, and it's only the third time human beings have reached the extreme depths.

Lahey said the Limiting Factor "represents a quantum leap in the capabilities of a manned submersible and everyone at Triton is immensely proud to have had the privilege and opportunity to create such a remarkable craft, which was only possible by the unwavering support and vision of Victor Vescovo".

To show how deep it is, think about this: If you were to drop Mount Qomolangma, which is more than 8,000 meters tall, into the Mariana Trench, there would still be almost two kilometers of water between the mountain's summit and the surface.

He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

The 4.6m-long, 3.7m-high submersible - called the DSV Limiting Factor - was built by the US-based company Triton Submarines, with the aim of having a vessel that could make repeated dives to any part of the ocean.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, but Vescovo is quick to point out their achievement was far greater than his in reaching the deepest place on Earth. Atlantic Productions for Discovery Channel/Tamara Stubbs/Handout via REUTERS.

Eventually Vescovo could see the bottom through one of the acrylic portholes in the titanium hull and brought The Limiting Factor to rest on the ocean floor. Because on previous missions these amphipods have been found to have microplastics in their guts, the team collected samples to test how much. "Those maps, once we've processed them and cleaned them up, they will get put on online repositories, so they will be made available to anyone who wants to use them", said Jamieson.

The area in the ocean is known as Challenger Deep.

"It is nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", said Vescovo in a statement emailed to IFLScience.

Spending four hours scouring the sea floor, Vescovo also took time to enjoy the moment.

"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 says. "That is the story of our species, and I am just so happy that even if in a small way, I have been able to contribute to forward progress".

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