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Mariana Trench Dive: Plastic Rubbish Found At The Deepest Point On Earth

Victor Vescovo, an American millionaire and undersea explorer just made a record-breaking dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench -- and found plastic rubbish down there.

Vescovo, a private equity investor who partially funded the dive, successfully reached reached the point commonly recognised as the deepest on Earth: Challenger Deep within the Mariana Trench.

He set the record in a small submersible submarine known as the Triton 36000, diving to a depth of nearly 11 kilometres, which was 16 metres deeper than any previous manned dive.

The last dive to the bottom of Challenger Deep was made by director James Cameron in 2012, who reached a depth of 10.9 kilometres in a submersible named the Deepsea Challenger.

The submersible returning to the ocean surface. Source: Discovery Channel.

Vescovo spent four hours at the bottom of the Mariana Trench observing sea creatures, including three crustaceans believed to be new species.

However, the Five Deeps team also discovered plastic waste on the ocean floor, including a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

According to estimates made by environmental scientists, over eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year. This amount is predicted to double in the next ten years.

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However, researchers are unclear on where 99 percent of this rubbish ends up -- one study that involved trailing fishing nets around the world only detected 40,000 tonnes.

Researchers theorise that most of the plastic has been broken down in to microplastic fragments and has possibly been consumed by marine life.

Vescovo's dive was part of The Five Deeps expedition, a project that aimed to reach the deepest point in each of the Earth's five oceans.

As well as Vescovo himself, the project was partially funded by the Discovery Channel, which plans to air a documentary series about the dives in late 2019.