Last week, private equity investor and adventurer Victor Vescovo became the first person to touch the deepest spot in the Atlantic Ocean, 27,480 feet down to the floor of the Puerto Rico Trench, in his custom $35 million Triton submersible, named the Limiting Factor. From Smithsonian:
Vescovo has previously trekked to both the North and South Poles and climbed the highest mountain on each continent, including Mount Everest, a combo known as the "Explorer's Grand Slam." But that club is—relatively speaking—a little crowded, with more than 60 people having completed the feat. That's one reason Vescovo decided to take to the water. The Puerto Rico Trench dive is the first leg of his latest challenge: to reach the lowest spot in each of the world's five oceans. He's dubbed the feat, inaccessible to anyone without millions of dollars of resources, the "Five Deeps Expedition…."
Through one lens, the trip can be seen as a vanity project for a rich explorer. However, as Ann Vanreusel, head of the research group Marine Biology of Ghent University, tells Erik Stokstad at Science, whatever the motive behind the expedition, it has true scientific value. "[T]here is not any funding agency that would be willing to spend so much money to visit all those areas," she says.
Indeed, Five Deeps is poised to produce some of the most accurate maps ever of the ocean's deepest spots and unseen habitats and creatures, aided by the fact that Alan Jamieson, a marine ecologist at Newcastle University and one of the world's leading experts on the ocean's depths, is the science leader of the expedition.