UP scientist to be one of the first humans, first Filipino to reach 3rd deepest spot on Earth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — A microbial oceanographer from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute is set to make history as one of the first humans and the first Filipino to reach the third deepest spot on Earth.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UPMSI said Dr. Deo Florence Onda was invited by private firm Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition scheduled on March 22 to 28.

“Deep sea expeditions like this one are equivalent to the first early flights into outer space, thus it would be a major record-setting scientific and historic achievement,” the UPMSI said, noting that most records are held by foreign scientists or explorers.

“The Philippine Trench is a unique feature found within the EEZ [exclusive economic zone] of the Philippines, and it is only appropriate that a Filipino scientist be one of the first to hold this record in the Emden Deep,” it added.

Also joining is Victor Vescovo, the current record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019, the most recent one achieved by the organization.

Caladan Oceanic is known for setting records for the deepest manned descents in trenches across the world.

They will dive Emden Deep onboard the DSSV Pressure Drop, the only marine vessel in the world capable of launching the deep-sea submersible DSV Limiting Factor that can carry humans and repeatedly dive to the deepest parts in the world’s oceans.

Onda is now onboard the said vessel and will start voyage from the port of Guam to the Philippine Trench on March 15. This activity has been fully coordinated with the Philippine government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and is considered a non-marine scientific research activity.

Part of the goal is to wave the Philippine flag in the Emden Deep during its record-setting voyage, highlighting that the submarine trench is an integral part of our nation’s heritage.

Being the only Filipino researcher representing the country, Onda will also be given an opportunity to be exposed to state-of-the-art vessels capable of deep-sea activities, which can enrich our experiences and knowledge as the Philippines builds its own National Academic Research Fleet.

“This endeavor can spark interest and passion for many other young Filipinos who would want to make a career in the sciences and bring more attention to the protection, preservation, and conservation of the Philippine marine environment,” the UPMSI said.

The deepest parts of the ocean floor can be found in the Marianas Trench in the western Pacific and the Tonga Trench in the southwestern Pacific, both at almost 11 kilometers deep. The Philippine Trench, also known as the Mindanao Trench, is almost 10,500 meters deep. The unique ecosystems and geologic history of these deep-sea trenches have always fascinated scientific researchers.