Benham: What’s in a name?

Naming rights is NEVER ownership…

The naming of Undersea Features is like the naming of plants, animals, archaeological discoveries, an international convention practiced by the scientific community to recognize the efforts of scientists and discoverers for thousands of years!  An American botanist can name a plant he discovers in the deep Philippine forests or a Filipino biologists name a new specie he finds in the Amazon but that does not mean either of them own their discoveries!

Benham Rise is named after a US Navy Admiral.  The name Philippines was named after Spain.  Does that make Benham or the Philippines any less Filipino?

President Duterte was criticized for allowing China to be awarded five undersea features by an international scientific organization for an application that China had applied in 2014, under former President Aquino!  Why didn’t the so-called “Filipino maritime expert” protest in 2014?

Moreover the same “expert” reported that China had applications for 142 names, which the Philippine media headlined—to scare or to misinform Filipinos?

The facts:

The applications for the 142 names are for features WORLDWIDE and spanned several years.  At the same time, Japan had 169 applications.  In fact Japan was awarded 34 names in disputed areas!

Was the “maritime expert” selectively ignorant in his report or maliciously Anti-China?

The US and Western European countries had thousands of names awarded over the past decades because their scientific communities are much more advance.  As the second largest economy, China is only now racing with the rest of the world on scientific discoveries worldwide, which our Filipino scientists are also doing, as scientists push the borders of knowledge for humankind.

Why do we Filipinos continue to listen to “experts” who have achieved nothing that push the development of humankind, except for Facebook posts?

Technical Background

The IHO-IOC GEBCO (General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans) Project is a joint ocean mapping project of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. Its objective is to provide the most authoritative, publicly-available bathymetric data for the world’s oceans through the efforts of an international collaborating community of scientists and hydrographers with the support of their parent organisations.

An undersea feature is a part of the ocean floor that has measurable relief or is delimited by relief. An undersea feature name agreed by SCUFN is made up of a specific term followed by a generic term. The first choice of the specific term, which is unique for a given undersea feature, should be one associated with the geographical feature, for example: Aleutian Ridge, Mariana Trench, Barrow Canyon. Other choices can commemorate ships, expeditions or scientific institutes involved in the discovery and/or delineation of the feature, or to honour the memory of famous persons. Names of living persons are normally not allowed.

SCUFN only names undersea features that are located outside the external limits of the territorial sea. Names can be submitted to SCUFN by individuals, agencies and organizations involved in marine research. Each submission must be supported by valid evidence.

Interesting Read

The article “Why Don’t We Spend More On Exploring The Oceans, Rather Than On Space Exploration?” found that the two times humans have reached the deepest part of the ocean, it required a foot-thick flawless metal sphere with barely enough internal space to sit down. The pressures are too great, and no engineering or materials conceivable today would allow us to live more than 1000 ft deep (Benham Rise is 5,000 meters or about 16,000 ft).

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