Filmmaker James Cameron became the first person to make a solo dive to Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean, in a custom-built submersible.
James Cameron has returned from the abyss.
The director of "Titanic" and "Avatar" successfully completed the 6.8-mile dive to the Challenger Deep, thought to be the lowest point on Earth, and has returned to the surface. The filmmaker's verdict on the spot, which has been visited by humans only once before: "I just sat there looking out the window, looking at this barren, desolate lunar plain, appreciating," Cameron told the Associated Press.
In other words, he didn't see much, save for a few inch-long amphipods, shrimplike bottom feeders, scuttling across the soft ocean floor. Due to a hyraulic failure on his submarine's sample collector, Cameron was also unable to bring back much in the way of souvenirs.
Cameron is just the third person in history to visit Challenger Deep, which lies in the 1,500-mile-long Mariana Trench in the North Pacific. The other two adventurers, US Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard, took their dive together in 1960. But they didn't see much, as their landing stirred up so much sediment that it obscured their vision. After just 20 minutes on the bottom, the two explorers returned to the surface empty-handed.
Unlike the vehicle that transported Walsh and Piccard, Cameron made his trip in the Deepsea Challenger, a vessel that is much taller than it is wide. This unique, 24-foot-long ship took eight years to build in Australia. It's cost hasn't been disclosed.