August 16, 2010 – “Avatar” and “Titanic” director James Cameron on Monday celebrated his 56th birthday by diving to the bottom of the world’s deepest lake, following in the footsteps of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
It was Cameron’s first venture to the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia, said Russia’s Fund for Protection of Lake Baikal, which organized the dive.
The Canadian-born director went underwater aboard the Mir-1, similar to the mini-submarine he used to make his 1997 disaster epic “Titanic” when he dived to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
Cameron went to a depth of around of 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) and spent around 3.5 hours at the bottom, said Inna Krylova, deputy head of the fund.
“He is delighted,” Krylova told AFP from the scene. “He would really like to continue research,” she said, adding that Cameron took soil samples from the lake’s bottom.
Upon resurfacing the crew opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the successful dive and the director’s 56th birthday, Krylova added.
World famous for its dramatic beauty, Lake Baikal contains around a fifth of the world’s fresh water and is home to a variety of endemic species such as the omul fish.
The Fund for Protection of Lake Baikal is a group created in 2008 on the initiative of Russian investment bank Metropol to promote conservation of the lake.
The Mir-1 submarine carried Putin to the depth of around 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) — the deepest point in the lake’s southern part — in a highly publicised media stunt in August last year.
Last month Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj became the first head of state to dive to the bottom of the Russian lake where he spent two hours underwater examining the unique flora and fauna of the lake.