What James Cameron saw 6.8 miles deep in Mariana Trench (+video)
Returning from humankind's first solo dive to the deepest spot in the ocean, filmmaker James Cameron said he saw no obvious signs of life that might inspire creatures in his next "Avatar" movie but was awestruck by the "complete isolation."
The Oscar-winning director and undersea explorer said his record-setting expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 7 miles beneath the surface of the western Pacific, not only capped seven years of painstaking preparation but was the "culmination of a lifelong dream."
Cameron, 57, spoke to reporters in a telephone conference call from a yacht en route back to shore from the dive site hours after returning safely to the surface from his voyage to the floor of the immense undersea canyon at a point some 300 miles (480 miles) southwest of the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
He described a flat, desolate landscape, 50 times larger than the Grand Canyon, "devoid of sunlight, devoid of any heat, any warmth," where the pressure was so great that it squeezed the height of his submersible vehicle by several inches.
He looked out on the sea floor, illuminated by the lights on his submarine, through a small window.
"When I got to the bottom ... it was completely featureless and uniform," he said. "My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity. ... More than anything, (it's) realizing how tiny you are down in this big, vast, black, unknown and unexplored place."