Normally it is James Cameron’s movies which are breaking records and making the headlines, but this time the director of blockbusters like Titantic and Avatar was in the news for a totally different reason.
As part of a venture sponsored by National Geographic, James Cameron, 57, became the first solo diver to descend the 6.77 miles down to ‘Challenger Deep’ in the Mariana Trench. Travelling in a state of the art sub that he helped design, the Deepsea Challenger, Cameron recorded much of his record-breaking journey for a forthcoming documentary.
He also plans to conduct several more dives down to this dark and mysterious place, which he described as ‘bleak’ and that it looked ‘like the moon’. Upon his return to the surface, he told reporters;
“I see this as the beginning…It’s not a one-time deal and then moving on. This is the beginning of opening up this new frontier…To me, the story is in the people in their quest and curiosity and their attempt to understand.”
I bet he was secretly hoping to come across something a bit magical and mysterious, like the underwater world explored in his movie The Abyss, or maybe even a giant sea serpent or some other previously undiscovered creature but it didn’t happen during this expedition – all he saw was shrimp-like amphipods. He did tell reporters that he had hoped to see something down there that would inspire the storyteller in him! I kinda hope he had too, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen the next time however!
‘Challenger Deep’ is the deepest point on earth and is deeper than the great Mount Everest is high!! It was first visited in 1960 by U.S Navy Captain Don Walsh and Swiss Engineer Jacques Piccard. They spent just 20 minutes at the bottom of the trench, Cameron was there for just over three hours, and had intended to stay much longer, but a hydraulic fault caused him to surface much sooner than he had originally intended to. Don Walsh was there when Cameron made the dive and said he was pleased to welcome the filmmaker into their very exclusive club!
The hydraulic failure also meant that Cameron was unable to collect any specimens from ‘Challenger Deep’. He had hoped to bring up several species for scientists to study, but that will just have to wait until his next trip!
Cameron is a highly proficient diver and has made several other deep-sea diving trips, although this has to be his biggest accomplishment to date. The infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in Cameron’s hugely popular Terminator films, was among several other celebrities who congratulated Cameron on his achievement. Schwarzenegger tweeted; “Congrats to my great friend on the deepest solo dive ever. Always a pioneer.” You can’t help but agree with Arnie on that one!
It must be hard to imagine what goes through your mind when you are sitting at the very bottom of the ocean, all alone, surrounded by water and 7 miles underneath the nearest human being. Cameron described how he savoured this experience, saying;
“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?”…I just sat there looking out the window, looking at this barren, desolate lunar plain, appreciating…It’s really the sense of isolation, more than anything, realising how tiny you are down in this big vast black unknown and unexplored place.”
I suppose there isn’t much else you can do down there, but reflect upon your achievement and take in your surroundings, but who knows, maybe he got the idea for his next big movie whilst sitting in his sub at the bottom of the ocean!
Via Daily Mail