Mariana Trench first-ever look: Cameron releases video from 7-mile deep Abyss (VIDEO)
“My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity,” he said after returning from the Pacific Ocean’s deepest point, where he traveled alone in a specially designed submarine.
The acclaimed film producer and director, who has created a number of astonishing worlds for millions of viewers all over the world, was amazed by what he saw in the Mariana Trench, even though the view was not nearly as picturesque as his movie-realities.
“There had to be a moment where I just stopped, and took it in, and said, ‘This is where I am; I’m at the bottom of the ocean, the deepest place on Earth. What does that mean?’” Cameron said after spending three hours at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, nearly seven miles below the surface.
“I just sat there looking out the window, looking at this barren, desolate lunar plain, appreciating it,” Cameron confessed.
Perhaps the only disappointment for the film director was that he did not see any strange deepwater creatures. All those he did encounter were small, but voracious shrimp-like critters not bigger than an inch (2.5 centimeters) in length.
Cameron says next time he’ll bring “bait” – like chicken.
There was also one technical malfunction. Just as Cameron was about to collect his first samples of rocks and critters, a leak in the hydraulic fluid sprayed into the water, rendering it impossible to bring anything back.
Deepsea Challenger too small for Cameron
Cameron’s decent to the depth of 35,576 feet (10,843 meters) took two hours and 36 minutes. He spent around three hours exploring and filming the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the Mariana Trench. His ascent was faster than expected, says National Geographic, a cosponsor of the expedition, and took only 70 minutes.
Conditions aboard the 12-ton, lime-green sub called Deepsea Challenger were not exactly comfortable. The vehicle was somewhat cramped, barely fitting Cameron’s tall 6’2 frame, and not giving him enough room to stretch out. When the filmmaker had just gotten into the sub, he said it felt like a sauna, as the temperature outside topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). But when he dove into the deep, the temperatures outside the sub dropped to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 Celsius). The pressure at the extreme depth was comparable to three SUVs resting on a toe.
“It’s a very weird environment,” Cameron said. “I can’t say it’s very comfortable. And you can’t stretch out.”
Film director the first to reach Challenger Deep on his own
James Cameron is a world-famous director, most famous for blockbusters such as The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar. Cameron is also an explorer and has participated in a number of deep sea dives, including 33 plunges to visit the underwater grave of Titanic, which sank in 1912.
Cameron became the first person to reach the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench on his own, and the third person to do so overall. In 1960 oceanographers Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard visited Challenger Deep together aboard the Bathyscaphe Triest. Back then, they observed a number of small sole and flounder and said the floor of the Challenger Deep consisted of a “diatomaceous ooze.” However, the pair spent just twenty minutes at that depth, much shorter than the three hours spent by Cameron. Their descent and ascent were also much longer – totaling over eight hours.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and a diving enthusiast himself, called Cameron’s plunge “a fantastic achievement.” Branson is working on his own one-man sub and says he hopes to join Cameron in a tandem dive of solo subs. For now, Branson is planning on diving to the deepest part of the Atlantic – the Puerto Rico trench.
Cameron launched the Deepsea Challenge Expedition, sponsored by National Geographic Magazine and Rolex, in 2012. He has made a number of dives in his Deepsea Challenger sub, most notably to the bottom of the 26,791 foot (8,221 meter) deep New Britain Trench, located between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Sea of Solomon.
He said the mission was all about exploration, science and discovery. “I see this as the beginning,” Cameron said. “It’s not a one-time deal and then moving on. This is the beginning of opening up this new frontier.”