VIDEO NEWS RELEASE: 1st Pacific Islander to reach ocean’s deepest point is UH grad student

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Sarah L Hendrix, (808) 260-3565
Comm Spec, External Affairs and University Relations
Nicole Yamase
Graduate Student, Marine Biology Graduate Program
Posted: Apr 6, 2021

(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)
(Photo credit: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic)

Link to video and sound (details below): https://bit.ly/3dB405Y

WHAT: A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate student is the first Pacific Islander to voyage to the deepest part of the Earth, the Mariana Trench, and its deepest region, the Challenger Deep (35,827 feet).

WHO: Nicole Yamase, a PhD candidate in the UH Mānoa Marine Biology Graduate Program.

WHEN: March 11, 2021

WHERE: The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) ocean territory for the Federated States of Micronesia.

HOW: Victor Vescovo, owner of the 224-foot research vessel DSSV Pressure Drop and the only commercially certified submersible that is capable of reaching any ocean depth multiple times, piloted the two-person submersible to the Challenger Deep. Four hours after leaving the surface, Yamase and Vescovo made it to the bottom and spent 2 hours exploring the eastern part of the pool, an area no human, to their knowledge, has ever been before. Then they took another 4-hour ride back up to the surface, spending a total of 10 hours underwater.

WHY: Yamase was nominated by the Micronesia Conservation Trust in partnership with the Waitt Institute. She represents her country being the first Pacific Islander, first marine botanist, youngest female and third woman to ever visit Challenger Deep.

OTHER FACTS:

  • Yamase’s research focuses on shallow-water communities, specifically macroalgae—the foundation of the food web. 

  • Some of the energy that supported life in Challenger Deep may have been contributed by dead plant material that has made its way to the bottom via marine snow, a shower of organic material falling from upper waters to the deep ocean.

  • After seeing debris (tethers) at the bottom of the ocean, this pushes Yamase to finish her degree and be a part of organizations that help protect the full reef from shallow waters to deep ocean.

VIDEO BROLL: (1 minute, 35 seconds)

Please credit b-roll video: Verola Media and Caladan Oceanic

0:00-1:19 - Nicole going into the Challenger Deep

1:19-1:23 - Nicole, wide shot on boat

1:23-1:35 - Nicole in a meeting with the team 

SOUNDBITES:

Nicole Yamase, Marine Biology Graduate Program, PhD candidate (12 seconds)
“I hope this experience inspires other young Pacific Islanders to pursue STEM fields and higher education, so that they can serve as role models for the next generations.” 

Yamase (15 seconds) 
“So my research focuses on shallow water communities, specifically macroalgae which is the foundation of the food web. And now I could see, quite literally how these reefs in the Federated States of Micronesia are connected with the deepest place on Earth.”