Director James Cameron awestruck at ocean's deepest spot

Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:24am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - 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."

The only free-swimming creatures he saw near the bottom were tiny shrimp-like arthropods, but little else in the way of life was immediately visible. Cameron said further exploration would be required to discern what other organisms might dwell there.

Asked if he encountered anything he might use in his next feature film, he replied, "I can't answer that question right now." But he said, "Anything that I've ever seen underwater goes into the hopper of imagination that gets refracted out into the things that I write."   Continued...

"Titanic" film director James Cameron gives two thumbs-up as he emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible after his successful solo dive to the deepest-known point on Earth, reaching the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench southwest of Guam in a specially designed submarine in this photograph released March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Thiessen/National Geographic/Handout