Dr. Deo Florence Onda made history on Tuesday as the first Filipino to reach the 34,100-foot Emden Deep, the third deepest spot in Earth, on board a submarine with an American undersea explorer.
Onda reached the surface of the Emden Deep around 10:35 a.m. after about 10 hours, according to Joselito Membrot, crew member of the DSSV (deep submersible support vessel) Pressure Drop.
In a Facebook video shared by Membrot, the rest of the crew, who were on the surface, can be seen celebrating as the Filipino scientist set his feet down in the sub at a depth of 10,045 meters.
Onda, a microbial oceanographer, went on the expedition with Victor Vescovo, the current record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019.
According to University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, where Onda teaches, part of its goal for the expedition is to wave the Philippine Flag, “highlighting that it is an integral part of our nation’s heritage.”
“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 environment.”
They started the voyage from the port of Guam on March 15 through the DSSV Drop, the only marine vessel capable of carrying humans and diving repeatedly to the deepest parts of the world’s oceans.
The Emden Deep Expedition was initiated by the private organization Caladan Oceanic, which Vescovo owns.
Before they went into the depths, Onda said in a Facebook video: "So we are about to go out to the sub... This is it, Pilipinas. Good luck."
A photo posted by the UP Marine Science Institute showed Onda boarding the submersible Tuesday morning.
To prepare for the historic attempt, Onda said he watched previous ocean explorations, accustomed himself being enclosed in a deep-sea submersible and "not to be surprised when things could go wrong."
"It will be a privilege that when I come back, I will be teaching something that is not just from the textbooks," he said.
"It's something that I have seen myself, I have experienced myself that not all people were able to experience. It is the Filipino people who will actually benefit from that and that's what I'm hoping for," Onda added.
The UP Marine Science Institute earlier touted the activity as a "major record-setting scientific and historic achievement."
“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,” it added.