A Filipino scientist found himself 10,000m below one of Earth’s final frontiers, The Emden Deep — which is considered as an unexplored section of one of the oldest seabeds in the world. It is the third deepest trench on the planet, and until a couple of months earlier, no human had ever visited the place. The 33-year-old microbial oceanologist was on the search for mysteries hidden in this darkness. Dr Deo Florence Onda from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute calls himself “very adventurous,” as he has been looking for ways through which he can push his boundaries and experience new things.
Dr Onda was from the tropics but went to the North Pole to complete his doctoral studies. However, deep-sea adventures are nothing like it. It’s a rare and complex experience, and your life is at risk throughout, just like outer space adventures.
In an interview with Channel News Asia, Dr Onda recounted that it is all about mental preparation, to convince yourself to stay in a small submersible without freaking out while you cut off from the world. To get a glimpse of life below, Dr Onda along with American explorer Victor Vescovo from Caladan Oceanic dedicated a 12-hour period in March to descend and explore the trench.
The duo was expecting to see scary, crawling things as they hit the bottom, but to their surprise, they were greeted with some familiar things which have travelled down from the above surface. Recalling a funny incident, Dr Onda said that he saw a white material floating and considered it a jellyfish. However, as they inched near, to their surprise it was just plastic.
Dr Onda said that the trench was loaded with garbage, including plastics, clothes, old toys, packaging and plastic bags. The microbial oceanologist shared that it became his responsibility to tell people that their garbage does not stay where they dump it, instead it sinks down.
Dr Onda was shocked after plastic, in large amount, was discovered from the trench. And it is well known that the transboundary nature of plastic in the ocean affects marine ecosystems in ways not even discovered.