First Pacific Islander to Visit the Deepest Underwater Trench on Earth
PALIKIR, POHNPEI, FSM, March 26, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — On March 11th ChST, Nicole Yamase, graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, became the first Pacific Islander, third and youngest woman to travel to the deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep. The Challenger Deep, part of the Marianas Trench, is 35,856 ft (10,929 m) below sea level; Nicole is one of only a handful of people to ever descend to the bottom of the ocean and, as the Challenger Deep is located within the territory of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), she is the first citizen to visit this unique environment of her country.
On March 30th at 1:00PM HST, President of the FSM, David W. Panuelo, Nicole Yamase, and Yolanda Joab Mori, Program Coordinator for Blue Prosperity Micronesia, will virtually “sit down” for a discussion in celebration of this historic event. This virtual Talk Story will share Nicole’s unique story, her hopes for the future of the FSM, and why it is so critical to protect and manage our rich ocean environments.
Talk Story with President Panuelo and Nicole Yamase
A Conversation on Navigating the FSM’s Blue Heritage and Future
March 30th, 1:00PM HST
Blue Prosperity Micronesia Facebook
Nicole grew up on the islands of Palau, Saipan, Pohnpei, and Chuuk, and was passionate about science and the environment from a young age. She graduated from Chaminade University of Honolulu with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology and Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies. She received the Bill Raynor Micronesia Challenge scholarship from Micronesia Conservation Trust to continue her PhD in the Marine Biology Graduate Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her research focuses on the effects of climate change on the marine plant community. Understanding how primary producers respond to these changes will help scientists and managers predict the future health of reefs, which is crucial for the livelihoods of Pacific Islanders who highly depend on the ocean for many purposes.
Says Nicole: “Climate change will be a long-term issue, which means we need a long-term solution. I believe that the long-term solution is found in the education of our youth. I hope the expedition will help inspire young Pacific Islanders to pursue STEM fields and encourage them to obtain higher degrees.”
Despite their distance from human communities, the offshore and deep sea environments are increasingly impacted by human activities like deep sea mining, bottom-trawl fishing, and pollution. Nicole’s journey is a reminder that like the ancestors of the FSM, we are fundamentally connected to the ocean and are supported by its vast and diverse habitats. Nicole made this voyage thanks to deep sea explorer Victor Vescovo, who owns and operates the Limiting Factor, one of the only submarines capable of descending to such depths.
Blue Prosperity Micronesia is a partnership between the Government of the FSM and the Blue Prosperity Coalition, including Micronesia Conservation Trust, the Waitt Institute, National Geographic Pristine Seas, and Oceans5, to protect 30% of the FSM’s waters, including unique places like the deep sea.