Thursday October 17, 2019

Trash Found Littering on Deepest Place on Earth- Mariana Trench

Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the guts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales

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trash in ocean
Undersea explorer Victor Vescovo pilots the submarine DSV Limiting Factor in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench in an undated still image from video released by the Discovery Channel, May 13, 2019. VOA

On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.

Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 meters) to a point in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth. His dive went 52 feet (16 meters) lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.

Vescovo found undiscovered species as he visited places no human had gone before. On one occasion he spent four hours on the floor of the trench, viewing sea life ranging from shrimp-like anthropods with long legs and antennae to translucent “sea pigs” similar to a sea cucumber.

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Sea creatures swim around a part of a submersible lander, illuminated by the light of the submarine DSV Limiting Factor, on the floor of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench in an undated still image from video released by the Discovery Channel, May 13, 2019. VOA

He also saw angular metal or plastic objects, one with writing on it.”It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean,” Vescovo said in an interview.

Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions in the world’s oceans with an estimated 100 million tons dumped there to date, according to the United Nations. Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the guts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales.

Raise awareness

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.

trash in ocean
Scientists have found large amounts of micro plastic in the guts of deep-dwelling ocean mammals like whales. Wikimedia Commons

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“It’s not a big garbage collection pool, even though it’s treated as such,” Vescovo said of the worlds’ oceans. In the last three weeks, the expedition has made four dives in the Mariana Trench in his submarine, DSV Limiting Factor, collecting biological and rock samples.

It was the third time humans have dived to the deepest point in the ocean, known as Challenger Deep. Canadian movie maker James Cameron was the last to visit in 2012 in his submarine, reaching a depth of 35,787 feet (10,908 meters). Prior to Cameron’s dive, the first-ever expedition to Challenger Deep was made by the U.S. Navy in 1960, reaching a depth of 10,912 meters. (VOA)

Next Story

Giant Floating Boom Designed to Collect Trash from Ocean Finally Working

Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics!

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FILE - A ship tows the Ocean Cleanup Project's first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

After several initial failures, a giant floating boom designed to collect trash from the ocean is finally working.

The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets to as small as 1 millimeter pieces of plastic from the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located halfway between California and Hawaii.

“Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?” Boyan Slat tweeted.

The 600-meter-long free-floating boom has a tapered 3-meter-deep screen that acts like a coastline to trap the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that form the patch, while allowing marine life to swim under it.

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The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets. Pixabay

An underwater parachute anchor was added to the boom after it failed to trap any trash in the sea last year. The anchor slowed down the boom to allow it to passively catch the trash while moving with the currents.

Using sensors and satellites, the boom communicates with scientists to let them know when it is time to send out a boat to pick up the collected trash for recycling.

The environmental nonprofit Ocean Conservancy estimates between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tons of fishing gear is abandoned or lost in the oceans every year. Another 8 million metric tons of plastic trash such as bottles, bags and toys flow annually into the ocean from beaches, rivers and creeks.

Slat said the next move will be to design a bigger, stronger boom that will be able to collect trash for a year or more before a ship is sent out to empty it.

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“There’s a lot of work still ahead of us,” he said. (VOA)