Trash found littering ocean floor in deepest-ever sub dive

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The Skaff lander floats next to the research vessel DSSV Pressure Drop above the Pacific Oceans's Mariana Trench in an undated photo released by the Discovery Channel May 13, 2019. (REUTERS)
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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. (REUTERS)
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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. (Reuters)
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A technician checks the submarine DSV Limiting Factor aboard the research vessel DSSV Pressure Drop above the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench in an undated photo released by the Discovery Channel May 13, 2019. (REUTERS)
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An object described by a spokesperson for the Five Deeps Mariana expedition as "manmade" is illuminated at top right 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. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 May 2019

Trash found littering ocean floor in deepest-ever sub dive

  • Vescovo found undiscovered species as he visited places no human had gone before

NEW YORK: 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.
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.

“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 US Navy in 1960, reaching a depth of 10,912 meters


Taj Mahal damaged in deadly India thunderstorm

Updated 31 May 2020

Taj Mahal damaged in deadly India thunderstorm

  • India’s top tourist attraction has been shut since mid-March as part of measures to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic

AGRA, India: A deadly thunderstorm that rolled across parts of northern India damaged sections of the Taj Mahal complex, including the main gate and a railing running below its five lofty domes, officials said Sunday.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, India’s top tourist attraction has been shut since mid-March as part of measures to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic.
AFP images showed workers assessing the railing of the main mausoleum, after the storm on Friday night battered Agra city in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“One sandstone railing which was a part of the original structure has been damaged,” Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India, Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, said.
“One marble railing which was a later addition, a false ceiling in the tourist holding area and the base stone of the main gate has also been damaged.”
He added there was no damage to the main structure of the monument to love — built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.
Local media reports said thunderstorms and lightning on Friday killed at least 13 people in two Uttar Pradesh districts.
Fatal lightning strikes are relatively common during the June-October monsoon season.
Last year, at least 150 people were killed by lightning in August and September in Madhya Pradesh state in central India.