American explorer Victor Vescovo completed an historic submersible dive to one of the most isolated places on Earth, and the expedition captured video of a new species that had researchers “speechless.”
In the Triton submarine called Limiting Factor, Vescovo descended 23,596 feet into the deepest part of the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean, becoming the first human to dive to its depths.
Vescovo is attempting to reach the bottom of all the Earth’s oceans. This was his third dive as part of the Five Deeps Expedition and it occurred April 5, though it was just announced Tuesday in a news release.
At the bottom of the Java Trench, the team captured video footage of species never before seen by humans.
“From the sub, a new species of hadal snailfish was observed amongst many other bottom dwelling organisms, and the landers observed an extraordinary gelatinous animal—thought to be a stalked Ascidian, otherwise known as a Sea Squirt—which does not resemble anything seen before [above video],” the expedition wrote in the release sent to For The Win Outdoors.
“Amongst many other rare and unique observations, the stalked Ascidian was a really significant moment,” said Dr. Alan Jamieson, the chief scientist of the Five Deeps Expedition. “It is not often we see something that is so extraordinary that it leaves us speechless. At this point we are not entirely sure what species it was, but we will find out in due course.”
Two other new species were also discovered but not disclosed.
“Among other things, the Five Deeps Expedition has finally settled the debate about where the deepest point in the Indian Ocean is,” said Vescovo. “Our Kongsberg EM124 multi-beam sonar—the most advanced sonar currently mounted on a civilian vessel—provided detailed maps of the Diamantina Fracture Zone sea floor off the coast of Australia, as well as the deepest parts of the Java Trench.
“Together with physical visitation from unmanned landers and the DSV Limiting Factor submersible, we believe we have built the most precise maps possible of the deepest places in the Indian Ocean. The deepest point is in the central part of the Java Trench—not the east as was widely assumed—and that’s exactly where we dove.”
The trip to the bottom and the ascent back to the surface each took 2 1/2 hours, and Vescovo spent about 2 1/2 hours on the bottom, so his mission took nearly 8 hours.
A second dive was piloted by Triton Submarines president Patrick Lahey, who was accompanied by Jamieson. It is believed that Jamieson became the deepest-diving British citizen and first to visit depths greater than 6,000 meters.
The Five Deeps Expedition is being filmed by Atlantic Productions for a five-part Discovery Channel documentary series to air later this year.
Vescovo has already completed two historic deep dives. In December, he descended 27,480 feet into the Puerto Rico Trench (the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean) and in February he descended 24,388 feet into the South Sandwich Trench near the Antarctic continent (the deepest point of the Southern Ocean).
The next dive is scheduled for September in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, commonly know as the deepest ocean trench on Earth at 35,843 feet.
Video and photos of Vescovo, the new species, launching of the submersible and its resurfacing, along with the 3-D mapping are courtesy of the Five Deeps Expedition.