James Cameron sets world record deepest dive
James Cameron, Film Director and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, broke the record for the solo man dive earlier this week after venturing to the deepest point of our oceans, the Mariana Trench.
It took about two and a half hours to descend and seven miles down to reach the Trench’s deepest spot, the Challenger Deep.
“The whole sub actually squeezes down almost three inches in length when it gets to the bottom of the ocean just because of the pressure. The sphere that I’m in actually shrank. The window that I looked out at pushed in towards me under 16,000 pounds per square inch of pressure,” James Cameron told The Telegraph.
Cameron spent a total of three three hours exploring the Challenger Deep. “I didn’t see anything bigger than about an inch long,” he said. “I didn’t see fish. The only free swimmers I saw were these amphipods, which are shrimp-like.”
His ascent, you could say, was somewhat different. The green submersible, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, took only 70 minute to break the surface. The filmmaker described the dive and ascent as a “heckuva ride”.
His description of the ocean’s abyss could be likened to an alien world, a lunar landscape that has not been visited since 1960.
“It was very lunar, a very desolate place, very isolated,” the filmmaker said. “My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity.
“It was absolutely the most remote, isolated place on the planet. I really feel like in one day I’ve been to another planet and come back.”
Larger than the Grand Canyon, the Mariana Trench is as deep as Mount Everest is high.
“When I came down and landed, it was a very, very soft – almost gelatinous – flat plane, an almost featureless plane that went out of sight as far as I could see,” Cameron recounted during a press meeting on board of the Octopus. “Once I got my bearings and started moving around, I drove across it for quite a distance and I finally started to come to the slope that went up to the [Mariana Trench] wall and I started working up that wall.”
But his trip was cut short because of a hydraulic failure, meaning he couldn’t operate the manipulator arm to collect samples, while leaked hydraulic fluid coated the sub’s window rendering his view to a minimum.
“It’s a prototype vehicle, so it’s gonna take time to iron out the bugs,” Cameron said. “The important thing is that we have a vehicle that’s a robust platform – it gets us there safely, the lights work, the cameras work, and hopefully next time the hydraulics will work.”
Though he did not get the chance to collect samples, it was hardly the one and only opportunity for Cameron and his team. Together with co-designer Ron Allum, who is the managing director of the Acheron Project and design firm in Australia, they have already planned a few more dives in the coming weeks.
But movies are still at the forefront of Cameron’s attention. “I’m going to be turning my attention to Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 as soon as I finish up with this expedition,” he told the BBC.