American explorer says record-breaking deep dive "opening the door for science"

American sets new record with deepest dive
American sets new record with deepest dive 02:48

An American diver set a new record for the deepest dive in history last month when he plunged nearly 36,000 feet. Victor Vescovo descended in his watercraft to the to the lowest part of the ocean in the Pacific's Mariana Trench, marking only the third time humans have reached the sea's extreme depths.

Deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Vescovo dove 35,853 feet beneath the waves, breaking previous records by about 36 feet. He spent four hours exploring the deepest known area of the planet's seabed in a $48 million submersible – a small watercraft built to withstand the extreme pressure of the deep waters.

But this wasn't Vescovo's first thrill-seeking moment. The private equity investor also skied both the North and South Poles and conquered the highest peaks on all seven continents

"We wanted to prove the capability of the submarine and the whole system by diving there repeatedly and really, hopefully, opening the door for science," Vescovo said.

Though he was the first to make it to those depths, man's impact is already present there with plastic scattered among the sea creatures. 

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"In most of the depths I've been down [to] I've seen contamination of plastic or things I can't even recognize but they're definitely man-made which is really unfortunate," Vescovo said. 

Vescovo and his team saw a pink snailfish, a spoonworm and also discovered four new species whose genetic information could help with medical research.

"It feels like a great privilege that I was able to do this as a human being," he said. "It's a great feeling just to try and, you know, push humanity a little bit forward."

Vescovo's next challenge is to reach the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, which he plans to do in August.

A documentary series that chronicles his expedition will air on Discovery Channel later this year.

Once he's conquered the mountains and oceans, Vescovo says his next challenge is space.