“People think that if they throw something into the ocean, it will just decompose over time. But they are actually preserved.”
Last March 23, the Philippine Trench’ Emden Deep has been explored by humans for the first time ever. A team of two – composed of Filipino oceanographer Deo Florence Onda and American explorer Victor Vescovo – descended 10,045 meters below at the world’s third deepest point using the submersible DSV Limiting Factor.
Although they were initially amazed by the natural beauty, they were later saddened to discover there are plenty of trash deep down below. They spotted plastic bags, food packaging, clothes, and a stuffed toy, among others.
In a media interview, Onda shared:
“If in the beginning, I felt like I was on Mars, when I saw the garbage, I thought to myself, ‘Am I in Payatas?’ The sight brought me back to the reality that I’m still on Earth.”
Payatas is Manila’s largest dump.
According to Onda, they saw the garbage about four hours after they descended.
“What I was expecting, because of the depth and high pressure there, were fragments of plastic. But they were so intact as if they just came from the supermarket,” he described.
Meanwhile, Vescovo pointed out “People think that if they throw something into the ocean, it will just decompose over time. But they are actually preserved.”
Onda is hoping that their underwater experience will serve as an eye-opener for the public.
“We don’t expect the plastic problem to go away overnight,” the Filipino scientist remarked. “But hopefully our stories will lead to behavioral change, with people seeing their connection to the problem. Whatever we do will have an impact on our environment.”
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