Dr. Deo Florence L. Onda, a microbial oceanographer of The Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines is set to make history as one of the first humans and the first Filipino to reach the 3rd deepest spot on earth, located in the Philippine Trench called the Emden Deep which is approximately 10,400 m or 34,100 ft deep.
Dr. Onda was invited by the organization Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition targeted on March 22 to 28, 2021. He will be joined in the descent by Mr. Victor Vescovo, the current record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019. Mr. Vescovo is also the main sponsor of Caladan Oceanic, which is a private organization that has been setting records for deepest manned descents in the world’s deepest trenches, with the most recent one in the Marianas in 2019.
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. To date, most of these records are held by foreign scientists or explorers. The Philippine Trench is a unique feature found within the EEZ 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.
Dr. Onda and Mr. Vescovo will dive the 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.
Part of the goal is to wave the Philippine Flag in the Emden Deep during its record-setting voyage, highlighting that it is an integral part of our nation’s heritage. Dr. Onda, as the sole Filipino researcher representing the country, will also be given a unique 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 (NARFleet), an ongoing national project funded by the Philippine Government. 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.
Dr. Onda is now onboard the DSSV Pressure Drop and will start the voyage from the port of Guam to the Philippine Trench. This activity has been fully coordinated with the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and is considered a non-Marine Scientific Research (MSR) activity.