(Left) Microbial oceanographer Dr. Deo Florence Onda of the UP Marine Science Institute and (right) Victor Vescovo, creator, sponsor and subpilot, Caladan Oceanic. | Screenshot from UP MSI

A Palaweño microbial oceanographer of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) will be one of the first humans and Filipino to reach the third deepest spot on earth called Emden Deep located in the Philippine Trench.

Dr. Deo Florence Onda, who hails from Brooke’s Point in southern Palawan, will make history when he descends to reach the Emden Deep in the Philippine Trench in an expedition organized by the Caladan Oceanic.

UP MSI announcement on the first Filipino to reach the 3rd deepest spot on earth.

Dr. Onda was invited by the Caladan Oceanic, a private company engaged in promoting undersea technology and supporting expeditions to increase ocean understanding, to join the Emden Deep Expedition targeted to happen on March 22-28, 2021.

A press statement from the UP MSI on March 17 said Emden Deep in the Philippine Trench is approximately 10,400 m or 34,100 feet deep.

Dr. Onda will be joined in the descent by Victor Vescovo, the current record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019.

Vescovo is also the main sponsor of Caladan Oceanic, which 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,” the statement said.

Dr. Onda and Vescovo will make the dive to 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, the statement further said.

Part of the expedition’s goal is to wave the Philippine flag in Emden Deep during the record-setting voyage to highlight that it is an integral part of the country’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),” the statement added.

NARFleet is an ongoing national project funded by the national government “to 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. (with a report from Romar Miranda)