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Pinoy scientist dives into third deepest spot on Earth

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 3/23/2021 Janvic Mateo
Pinoy scientist dives into third deepest spot on Earth © STAR/ File Pinoy scientist dives into third deepest spot on Earth

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino marine scientist Deo Florence Onda yesterday made history after the successful descent to the Emden Deep, the third deepest spot on the planet located at the Philippine Trench.

“I am with explorer Victor Vescovo and we are at the Emden Deep in the Philippine Trench,” Onda said in a video posted on his Facebook account last night after the successful descent to the Emden Deep.

“I am actually very honored to be part of this trip and sa mga Pilipino, ito po ang Emden Deep, atin ito (For Filipinos, this is Emden Deep and this is ours)!” he added before raising the Philippine flag.

The video was taken inside submersible Limiting Factor after it reached the Emden Deep, which is approximately 10,400 meters or 34,100 feet deep.

According Vescovo, the record holder for the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019, they made history as the first humans to reach the bottom of the Philippine Trench.

“It’s a privilege to be here with you, a member of the Philippines and glad we were able to provide the vessel that allowed it to happen,” he told Onda in the video.

The descent to the Emden Deep started early Tuesday, with Onda and Vescovo reaching it after a few hours.

“The reality of diving the Emden is slowly sinking in,” Onda, a microbial oceanographer from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI), said in a separate post on Monday.

Vescovo is a main sponsor of the Caladan Oceanic, the private organization that invited Onda to join the descent.

In an earlier statement, the UPMSI said it is only appropriate that a Filipino scientist be among the first to dive into the Emden Deep, which is found within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

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

Onda and Vescovo reached Emden Deep aboard submersible Limiting Factor which was launched from DSSV Pressure Drop, described as “the only marine vessel in the world capable of launching the deep-sea submersible… that can carry humans and repeatedly dive to the deepest parts in the world’s oceans.”

Part of the goal, according to UPMSI, was to wave the Philippine flag in the Emden Deep and highlight that it is an integral part of the country’s heritage.

The institute also noted the opportunity for Onda to be exposed to state-of-the-art vessels capable of deep-sea activities, which can help efforts to establish the country’s own National Academic Research Fleet.

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

The expedition is considered a non-marine scientific research activity and has been coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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