James Cameron yesterday suceeded in his attempt to dive the seven miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest place on Earth.
Cameron was the first person to complete the dive solo, and the first to do it at all since 1960, when US Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard spent about 20 minutes on the ocean floor.
Cameron, by contrast, spent three hours filming for a National Geographic 3D movie that’s in the works, after reaching the bottom at about 8.00am locally. The trip down took two hours and 36 minutes – the return just 70 minutes.
The trip was cut short because of a hydraulic fluid leak that meant it wasn’t possible, as planned, to use the sub’s robotic arm to cllect rock and animal samples.
“This journey is the culmination of more than seven years of planning for me and the amazing Deepsea Challenge expedition team,” says Cameron.
“Most importantly, though, is the significance of pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, what they can see and how they can interpret it.”
According to National Geographic, though, Cameron didn’t see many signs of life at the bottom of the trench.
“I didn’t see a fish… I didn’t find anything that looked alive to me, other than a few [shrimplike] amphipods in the water,” he told the magazine. “I didn’t feel like I got to a place where I could take interesting geology samples or found anything interesting biologically.”
Cameron’s believed to be in good health after his trip, and is epxected to make further dives over the coming weeks.
“The endeavor was one of scientific discovery in a new age of exploration, and its success will give us a better understanding of this least explored environment and the secrets and lessons it holds,” says the team.