Victor Vescovo Reveals Alien Landscape Almost 30,000 Feet Beneath South Pacific

Photos and video of one of the deepest points of the South Pacific have been shared by Texas millionaire Victor Vescovo, who visited the San Cristobal Trench for his latest expedition.

Vescovo, who is one of the few people to have visited the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench—the deepest known point in all Earth's oceans—posted the images from the San Cristobal Trench on Twitter.

"Just executed the first crewed descent to the very bottom of the San Cristobal Trench south of the Solomon Islands," he wrote. "Bottoming out at a preliminary 8,483 meters (27,831 feet), the bottom had a rather unique topography. Also, saw a jellyfish at a very deep 8,423 meters."

Vescovo also posted a video of the sea floor, comparing the experience to exploring the alien moons of Europa and Ganymede. These icy moons are both believed to have a salty subsurface ocean and, for this reason, NASA considers them candidates for hosting alien life within our solar system.

"Here is a clip of what it is like to skim the bottom of a deep ocean trench (the San Cristobal, South Pacific) at a depth of 8,484 meters in a submersible," he wrote. "It feels like skimming the surface of another planet like Europa or Ganymede in a spacecraft."

He said the animals recorded on the ocean floor were translucent sea cucumbers, which move incredibly slowly. "The animals that look like stalked flowers are anemones and they stay anchored to the rocks on which they live," he said.

Vescovo was diving in the San Cristobal Trench, which sits between Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as part of a two week mission to perform deep ocean mapping in the South Pacific. They set off from Cairns in Australia, but Covid restrictions meant they had to spend two weeks out at sea before docking there. In that time they carried out dives in the Bougainville and New Britain Trenches. After San Cristobal, the team will dive to the New Hebrides Trench.

Ocean trenches are incredibly steep, v-shaped depressions in the deepest parts of the worlds' oceans. The water within these trenches is known as the hadal zone—the area of ocean lying 20,000 to 36,000 feet beneath the surface of the water.

Between 2018 and 2019, Vescovo visited all five of the deepest points of Earth's oceans. These are the Challenger Deep, the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic, the Molloy Deep in the Arctic, the South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean.

In March this year, he carried out additional dives to the Challenger Deep over 11 days. He spent a total of 35 hours at the bottom of the trench. "Our ability to safely visit the most remote point on our planet regularly pulls the curtain away from the ocean deeps for mankind," he said in a statement at the time. "It enables us to discover more about this planet that still has so much to teach us."

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Victor Vescovo, the millionaire explorer, at a conference about his trip to all five of the world's deepest ocean trenches. Getty Images