Nicole Yamase first Pacific Islander, only third woman to reach Challenger Deep
She is the third woman, the first Pacific Islander, and the youngest person to visit Challenger Deep.
Located in the Western Pacific ocean, nearly 11,000-metre deep, in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, the Challenger Deep is always enveloped in darkness. It is the deepest known point of the Mariana Trench and on Earth and not many imagine going there. On March 2021, Nicole Yamase, a young Micronesian, registered her name in record books by becoming the third woman, first Pacific Islander, and the youngest person to visit Challenger Deep. According to a report in The Guardian, the trench falls in the territorial waters of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and its President David Panuelo was all praises for the young Pacific Islander.
Panuelo said Yamase’s work was "awe-inspiring", adding it was fitting that a Micronesian had finally visited the bottom of the Challenger Deep.
Micronesia is a country in Oceania and is made up of more than 600 islands. It is mostly an independent country with the United States controlling a few islands.
Among the personal articles that Yamase took with herself on the mission were a country flag, a traditional mwaramwar cowry shell necklace, and a small model wooden canoe, a gift from her father which symbolizes her navigator heritage.
"I couldn't believe we reached the bottom... I didn't trust my eyes," she told ABC. It was amazing, being there where nobody has been before, she added.
With this mission and the fact that she was only the third woman to achieve the feat, Yamase hopes more women will now draw inspiration and join STEM courses. She is studying for her PhD at the University of Hawaii.
"There's really not many of us in this field... and it's really important for subjects to get excited about science," she said, adding her experience was also a way to break gender boundaries and expectations.
Yamase shared she found Challenger Deep similar to a desert or moonscape where “marine snow” — tiny particles of organic material — float down from above.
She added they noticed waste — pieces of rope — on the seabed.