The Philippine Trench is an oceanic trench, a depression in the seafloor that tends to count among the deepest places of the ocean floor. It runs from the northern Maluku islands of Indonesia going north-northwest, running along the Philippine Sea east of Mindanao and the Visayas before veering towards Luzon. It is separated from the Luzon Trench to its north by the Benham, or Philippine Rise. As stated, ocean trenches are as deep as the ocean can get, and the Philippine Trench has the Emden deep, touted as the third deepest place on Earth. Ironically, no Filipino has even gone down those depths, until now.
GMA News reports that at last, a Filipino scientist has descended into the third deepest part of the Earth’s oceans, Emden Deep in the Philippine trench. Dr. Deo Florence Onda, an associate professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) and an oceanographer, made the nationally historic descent before noon this past Tuesday, March 23. He was part of a deep-sea exploration team from EYOS Expeditions, under the sponsorship of Caladan Oceanic, a private oceanographic company founded by American deep-sea explorer Victor Vescovo. Vescovo and Dr. Onda were aboard a Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) that went into the Emden Deep.
Emden Deep is 10,045 meters or 34,100 feet at its deepest point. For comparison, the highest mountain on Earth above sea level, Mount Everest, will be completely submerged in the water, and more than a dozen Burj Khalifa skyscrapers of Dubai (the world’s current tallest building at 828 meters) can be stacked end to end from seafloor to sea level. So extreme is the depth that Ondo and Vescovo reached their destination down below before Tuesday noon, when they cast off from their mother-ship the DSSV Pressure Drop, at 6:30 AM earlier in the morning.
Before going on his momentous journey into the ocean deep, Dr. Onda wrote his reflections on what he was about to do on Facebook, calling the descent a giant leap for the country and something Filipinos can be proud to count among their national heritage. “With the ship are the Filipino crew who are contributing their skills and talents to make the voyages and dives safe and meaningful,” he says, noting the Filipino crewmen of the DSSV Pressure Drop ship. “They are the reasons why the aquanauts are able to accomplish their missions and tell tales of the deep seas.”
Onda was in good hands in this trip with his veteran companion Vescovo, a retired US Navy man turned undersea explorer. He holds the current record for the deepest manned ocean descent since 2019 when he went down by DSV into the Mariana Trench, deepest place on Earth bar none.