Bizarre Never-Seen Species on First Attempt of Indian Ocean’s Deepest Point
After Vescovo's successful descents to the deepest points of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, in December and February respectively, it was time to attempt the third of five, that of the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean's deepest region is the Java Trench, just south of the islands of Java and Bali.
In early April, using a state-of-the-art sonar dubbed EM 124, the Five Deeps expedition team imaged the depths of the Java Trench. Chief Sonar Operator, Cassie Bongiovanni, found that there were three regions of the trench competing for Indian Ocean's deepest: a 'western', a 'central' and an 'eastern' deep. Information suggested the central deep was the deepest.
On the first dive, a set of weights unexpectedly dropped from the Limiting Factor submersible. It was determined that the submersible would not make it to the bottom. The team took a few more days to resolve the problem and also to better image the 'western' deep.
After resolving more detailed sonar data, Bongiovanni and team's probability curves brought them to 90-95% certainty that the 'central' deep was the deepest.
The submersible's problem now resolved, on April 5 Vescovo successfully made a historic first dive to the deepest point in the Indian Ocean at 23596 ft deep (7192m). It was a 2 1/2 hour trip both ways, with 3 hours spent on the bottom resulting in a total trip of 8 hours which Vescovo considered, "long-ish."
Two days later, Chief Scientist Alan Jamieson and the engineer of the Limiting Factor, Patrick Lahey, piloted said submersible back to the depths. Jamieson, a Scotsman, made the current world record for deepest dive ever by a British national.
The duo focused on a near-vertical cliff wall and discovered "amazing things". One was of geologic interest but not yet specified, and another, discovered on video upon return, was an amazing animal thought likely to be a new species.
The enigmatic pale blue bulbous animal floated along several feet above the surface dragging a strange long cord behind it. Though seemingly similar to a jellyfish, closer examination reveals that it is more likely a member of the family ascidiacea, also known as 'sea squirts'. Nothing quite like it has ever been seen.
The team and their vessel, Pressure Drop, has now left the region and already arrived at the 4th deep location, the Pacific Ocean's Challenger Deep, also the world's deepest point.
If successful, Vescovo would become the first human to ever visit both the world's highest point (Mt. Everest) and the world's deepest.