‘Titanic’ director describes ‘desolate’ ocean floor

March 26, 2012 1:49 pm
Cameron emerges from the Deepsea Challenger submersible/AFP

, WASHINGTON, Mar 26 – “Titanic” director James Cameron, back at the surface on Monday after plunging to the deepest point of the Pacific in a solo submarine dive, described a barren “completely alien world” on the ocean floor.

The subterranean landscape he described was not unlike the surface of the moon.

It was a “very lunar, very desolate place. Very isolated,” Cameron said.

“I felt like I in the space of one day had gone to another planet and come back,” he said, describing the ocean floor as a “completely featureless, alien world.”

The acclaimed film director described the experience of hurtling down the “yawning chasm” of the ocean: “Falling through darkness – that’s something that a robot can’t describe.”

Cameron descended about seven miles (11 kilometres) to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, where temperatures are barely above freezing and the pressure is a crushing thousand times that at sea level.

He told reporters in a phone press conference that he was at the bottom of the ocean for about a little more than two and a half hours, and had to cut short the planned stay of six hours because of problems with the ocean craft’s hydraulics system.

The voyage was the first manned expedition to the trench in more than half a century and Cameron said it was the culmination of more than seven years of planning.

The journey down to the Challenger Deep valley of the Mariana Trench, which lies southwest of Guam, took two hours and 36 minutes, organizers said.

The filmmaker collected samples for research in marine biology, microbiology, astrobiology, marine geology and geophysics, and captured photographs and 3D moving images.

Cameron is the first person to make a solo dive to the Pacific Ocean trench. The last dive of any kind there was made by a two-man team in a relatively brief expedition back in 1960.

Mission partner the National Geographic said Cameron had reached a depth of 35,756 feet (10,898 meters) at 7:52am on Monday (2152 GMT Sunday) in his specially designed submersible the Deepsea Challenger.

Cameron said in the telephone news conference that being able to make the journey was “the culmination from my perspective of a lifelong dream,” and that he hopes to be able to continue to marry his love of exploring the depths of the sea with his work as director.

“Hopefully I don’t have to choose between them. Hopefully I can do the two in parallel,” he said. “I don’t want to have to decide.”


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