Descending at 34,100 feet, Filipino scientist successfully reaches the 3rd deepest spot on Earth

Published March 23, 2021, 4:15 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Microbial oceanograper Dr. Deo Florence L. Onda of the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) has officially made history as the first Filipino to reach the Emden Deep, considered the third deepest spot on Earth.

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joselito Dela Cruz Membrot of DSSV Pressure Drop via UP MSI)

In DSSV Pressure Drop crew’s video shared by UP-MSI on Tuesday afternoon, the members were seen cheering as Onda successfully reached the 10,400-meter or 34,100-foot Emden Deep.

“So we are about to go out to the sub [mersible]. Ito na ‘yun, Pilipinas [This is it, Philippines]. Good luck,” Onda said in a Facebook video on Tuesday morning, March 23, prior to the manned descent.

UP-MSI in a statement last March 17 described the DSSV Pressure Drop as 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.

Joining Onda on the historic feat was American undersea explorer Victor Vescovo, who currently holds the record for the deepest manned descend in the Marianas Trench in 2019.

Onda was invited by the organization Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition scheduled from March 22 to 28, 2021.

UP-MSI pointed out that deep sea expeditions are “equivalent to the first early flights into outer space, thus it would be a major record-setting scientific and historic achievement.”

“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 said.

Onda, who is also an associate professor and Deputy Director for Research of the UP-MSI, is known for his research on host-symbiont interactions, microbial biogeography, diversity, dynamics and trophic interactions, and consequences of changing conditions.

He has participated in a number of scientific expeditions, such as the Joint Ocean Ice Studies and Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project.

He has also received multiple grants from different institutions and programmes for his research, along with internships and further trainings abroad.