James Cameron has successfully completed the first solo dive to the furthest depth of the world’s oceans. The director of massive blockbusters Titanic and Avatar reached the surface Monday after diving more than 11 km into the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean.
“It was very lunar, very desolate,” Cameron told reporters after his dive. “My feeling was of complete isolation from all humanity.”
Cameron spent more than two hours at the bottom of the trench, filming and exploring. He told reporters that the first thing he did was simply stare out the window of his 12-tonne deep sea Challenger submarine and soak it all in.
But the mission wasn’t entirely successful. A hydraulic failure forced the team from the National Geographic expedition to cut Cameron’s dive short by six hours. He was only able to obtain one sediment sample from the ocean floor, most of which was lost on the ascent.
As Maclean’s reported last week, more people have been to the moon than to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Cameron is the first person to reach the deepest depth of the ocean since 1960, when Swiss engineer Jacques Picard and U.S. Navy captain Don Walsh spent 20 minutes at the bottom of the trench. But they kicked up so much silt that their visibility was impaired. Cameron, therefore, is the first to properly see the earth’s deepest place.
“You have to go through it, you have to really experience it,” he told reporters after the dive. “It’s really the sense of isolation, more than anything, realizing how tiny you are down in this big vast black unknown and unexplored place.”