The explorer-filmmaker emerges from his sub after returning from Challenger Deep. Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

After seven years of preparation James Cameron has become the first person in history to solo dive the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, and earth for that matter.

According to National Geographic, the famed movie director, Academy Award winner, environmentalist, and now record-holding solo diver, reached the Challenger Deep – a staggering 6.8 miles (35,756 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean – at 2:52 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday aboard his 24-foot green submersible, the Deepsea Challenger.

Cramped up the state-of-the=art and price-undiclosed submersible  (that actually shrank 3 inches during the trip), Cameron descended for 2 hours and 36 minutes before telling his crew, “all systems OK.”

While down there, he collected samples of sediment via a robotic arm, shot still photos and 3D video for upcoming documentaries and scientific research, and marveled at a place only two other men in history have reached.

Cameron described the Challenger Deep as ” bleak and barren as the moon,” adding he did not see any fish, or living creatures more than an inch long.

“The only free swimmers I saw were small amphipods”, or shrimp-like bottom-feeders, said Cameron.  “When I came to Challenger Deep, the bottom was completely featureless. I had this idea that life would adapt to the deep … but I don’t think we’re seeing that.”

After few hours at the bottom Cameron was forced back to earth, a roughly 70-minute ascent described by expedition member Kevin Hand as “perfect”.

Now, scientists and researchers will sift through the data collected and Cameron will likely return to his ‘day job’,  attending the London premiere for a 3-D re-release of his blockbuster, Titanic, on Wednesday.  Not to worry though, Cameron already has more dives planned in the coming weeks as part of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE project, a partnership Cameron has with National Geographic and Rolex.

Tweet from the bottom:

@JimCameron: Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing w/ you @DeepChallenge

READ: James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive – National Geographic

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