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Safety and conservation at the deepest place on Earth: A call for prohibiting the deliberate discarding of nondegradable umbilicals from deep-sea exploration vehicles

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alan Jamieson


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© 2021 Elsevier LtdExploration vehicles can introduce vast quantities of single-use, plastic-coated tether that have been deliberately discarded as observed at the deepest site of all Earth's oceans. Manned submersible dives to Challenger Deep (10,925 m deep) in the Mariana Trench in 2019 and 2020 revealed hundreds of metres of yellow and white tether strewn across the seafloor. Due to its composition, these fibre-optic tethers will not only persist environmentally, but form a significant risk to equipment and life should unmanned and manned craft become entangled. As a result, the site of the iconic first descent to the deepest place on Earth by Piccard and Walsh in 1960 is unlikely to be safely explored again if this practise continues.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vescovo VL, Jamieson AJ, Lahey P, McCallum R, Stewart HA, Machado C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Policy

Year: 2021

Volume: 128

Print publication date: 01/06/2021

Online publication date: 03/03/2021

Acceptance date: 24/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 0308-597X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2021.104463


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