An American deep-sea diver has become the first person to reach the deepest points of the world’s five oceans.
Victor Vescovo, 53, embarked on the Five Deeps Expedition in December 2018, finishing his last dive to the Arctic Ocean’s Molloy Hole on August 24. It was the first time a person had ever been to this location, at a depth of 5,550m.
The project was self-funded by the private equity investor from Dallas, Texas, and covered 74,000 kilometres travelling to each dive site.
Mr Vescovo had a submarine specially designed by Triton Submarines for the task of taking him to the depths of the Pacific, Southern, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic oceans. Although the 12,500 kilogram Limiting Factor was built for two people, Mr Vescovo insisted on taking the challenge on alone.
A US Navy vessel was repurposed to launch Limiting Factor. The DSSV Pressure Drop contains both a wet and dry lab for science activities and can host 49 personnel.
This isn’t the adventurer’s first challenge - he has also scaled the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents and skied to both the North and South poles.
"I come from a philosophy that says we're put here not just to survive, or even just to be comfortable - but to contribute in some way,” he told the BBC after completing the fifth and final dive.
“And the path I chose was to have some adventure whilst also doing something that could move us forward as a species."
Mr Vescovo’s penultimate dive was the deepest at 10,928 - the deepest of any dive by any human in history. It took place at Challenger Deep within the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. The trench was last visited by filmmaker and explorer James Cameron in 2012, who reached a depth of 10,908 meters on a dive in his own submersible craft, the Deepsea Challenger.
The Five Deeps Expedition also visited the wreck of the titanic for the first time in 14 years, capturing video of erosion.
Scientific discoveries have also been made as part of the process, which not only launched Limiting Factor into the depths, but also measurement and camera equipment.
The team, led by University of Newcastle scientish Dr Alan Jamieson, says it has discovered over 40 new species and taken hundreds of samples for analysis in the lab. His team also made more depressing discoveries; at Challenger Deep they found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers on the ocean floor.
"It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean," Vescovo told Reuters at the time.
"It’s not a big garbage collection pool, even though it’s treated as such.”