In May 2019, humans reached farther into the depths of the ocean than ever before, only to discover that in one regrettable way, they'd already been there. Diving to the unprecedented depth of 35,849 feet (10,927 m), American investor and undersea explorer Victor Vescovo found what his team believes are four new crustacean species. He also reported seeing plastic waste lying at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean -- no doubt some of the millions of tons of trash that end up in the sea every year. Vescovo's dive in a submarine built to withstand the incredible pressure of the deep was part of a recently-completed quest known as the "Five Deeps Expedition," in which he dove to the deepest point in each of the Earth's oceans. The Mariana Trench team collected plenty of samples, including some of the creatures that call the ocean floor home, which will be examined to see if they contain microplastics. Recent research has found that many animals, even those that live far from direct human interaction, contain potentially harmful fragments of human trash.
A virtual dive into the Mariana Trench:
- If Mt. Everest were moved to the deepest part of the trench, its peak would still fall more than a mile below the surface.
- The trench is more than 1,580 miles (2,540 km) long, but its mean width is only 43 miles (69 km).
- The water pressure at the deepest part of the trench is equivalent to the weight of 50 jumbo jets.