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“I was at the bottom of the earth.” What a scientist saw at the deepest point of the planet

"I was at the bottom of the earth." What a scientist saw at the deepest point of the planet 1

59-year-old explorer Richard Garriott, the first person in the world to visit two poles, the ISS and the Mariana Trench, shared his impressions of his last phenomenal voyage.

The researcher not so long ago made a dive to the lowest point on Earth – the Mariana Trench. It took him about four hours.

Garriott sank to a depth of 11 km. For comparison: the height of Everest is 8 848 m. For diving, he used the deep-diving apparatus The Explorers Club, which was developed by the explorer of the ocean depths Viktor Veskovo.

“There were many tiny and difficult to distinguish life forms, small creatures that looked like sea cucumbers, and there were also translucent creatures like flat worms,” the conqueror of the depths tells about what he saw. 

"I was at the bottom of the earth." What a scientist saw at the deepest point of the planet 2
Photo: Caladan Oceanic LLC

On the way up, at a depth of about 500 m, Garriott came across a siphonophore – the body of these animals consists of separate creatures – a zooid. 

“It was a bit like a large band of tentacles, each meter in length,” the researcher clarifies. 

According to him, after a collision with one such creature, it broke into pieces, from which even more siphonophores grew. 

"I was at the bottom of the earth." What a scientist saw at the deepest point of the planet 3
Siphonophore Nanomia cara (suborder Physonectae). 

Garriott was born in the UK and made millions in the video game industry (he is best known for developing computer games for Ultima, Lineage, Lineage II and Tabula Rasa) before switching to research. 

Specifically, he made a trek to the South Pole in 1998, spent ten days in orbit on the International Space Station in 2008, and went to the North Pole in 2018.

Unexpected find at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2019

In 2019, a man plunged into the ocean for the first time at a depth of 10.9 kilometers, setting a new absolute record. However, the mysterious world of the depths gave the world science a “surprise” that alarmed scientists around the world.

When Viktor Veskovo’s underwater vehicle gently touched the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the team held their breath. The incredible depth of 10,900 meters is a new world record, as no one has gone so deep before. For comparison: even if you flip Mount Everest, its top and the bottom of the colossal oceanic cleft will still be one and a half kilometers away.

And guess what was the first object that met on the path of the brave discoverer? Rubbish.

In fact, this is some kind of plastic waste – probably a bag or a wrapper from something. Even here, at great depths, where a person has to hide in a titanium alloy sarcophagus, traces of the uncontrolled use of plastic by the world industry are visible. Fortunately, the landscape was not limited to garbage.

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Veskovo, according to his own assurances, was mesmerized by the unusual picture that stretched before his eyes. Many translucent creatures slowly drifted in the water column. Life has shown itself in all its glory and diversity – neither eternal darkness, nor monstrous pressure is an obstacle to that. 

Scientists have already identified several species completely unknown to science. Researchers are currently analyzing all the data that Victor managed to collect during his first dive session. Who knows, maybe even more amazing discoveries await us in the future?

However, even the enormous depth will not save these amazing creatures if a person continues to pollute the waters of the World Ocean with wastes of his life. 

A single package will not threaten species diversity, but mountains of debris and microparticles of plastic dissolved in water can easily destroy an ecosystem so isolated from the outside world.


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