Deepest underwater dive in human history finds plastic on ocean floor

James Cameron emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible after his successful solo dive to the Mariana Trench

Explorer and retired naval officer Victor Vescovo descended 11 kilometres at the Earth's deepest point - the Mariana Trench - and found some tiny sea creatures, but more alarmingly, he claimed he saw a plastic bag floating in the depths, along with some candy wrappers.

Epic trip: The Mariana Trench dive is part of a series of dives known as the Five Deeps Expedition: an attempt to visit the deepest point in each of the world's five oceans.

The first dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench took place in 1960 by US Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard in a vessel called the bathyscaphe Trieste.

Vescovo's dive was one of five made by the team between April 28 and May 5, which included the deepest marine salvage operation ever attempted.

Vescovo, the Dallas-based co-founder of private equity fund Insight Equity Holdings, found the man made material on the ocean floor and is trying to confirm that it is plastic, a spokeswoman for Vescovo's Five Deeps Expedition said.

Vescovo undertook his dive alone in a submersible called the DSV Limiting Factor created to withstand extreme pressures.

He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his sub, built to withstand the vast pressure of the deep ocean.

"It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean", Vescovo said in an interview.

Canadian filmmaker James Cameron was the last to visit the location in 2012 in his submarine, when he reached a depth of 10,908 metres.

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Vescovo's solo dive was punctuated by 248 minutes spent on the bottom exploring the basin, which the expedition team said "is now the longest period of time ever spent on the bottom of the ocean by an individual".

The 'Five Deeps' expedition has already successfully reached the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

The Mariana trench is deep enough to completely submerge Mount Everest.

"It is nearly indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did", Vescovo told the BBC.

The area in the ocean is known as Challenger Deep.

According to the United Nations, there is an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic waste in the world's oceans.

In an interview with CNN, the American diver said his team were going to perform tests on the creatures to determine the percentage of plastics found in them.

Among the discoveries made aboard the The Limiting Factor - the world's first titanium-hulled, two-person submersible to dive this far - were giant prawn-like amphipods and bottom-feeding sea cucumbers.

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