‘Avatar’ director became the first solo diver to dive to 35,756 feet in the Pacific Ocean.
By Gil Kaufman
Director James Cameron has scaled the heights in Hollywood with mega-smashes including “Titanic” and “Avatar.” Hell, he even once described himself as “king of the world” at the Oscars.
But on Sunday, the oceanographic nut reached new depths when he piloted his custom one-man submarine to the deepest point in the world’s oceans by hitting 35,756 feet in the Mariana Trench, southwest of Guam, according to National Geographic. It marks the first time a solo diver has ever reached that point. Following seven years of preparation for the dive, and a few days cooling his heels to wait for bad weather to pass, Cameron pulled the feat off at 2:52 p.m. PT and then shared the historic news on Twitter.
“Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good,” Cameron tweeted after the two-and-a-half-hour descent that took him 6.8 miles deep. “Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing w/ you @DeepChallenge.”
The record earned props from none other than movie tough guy and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tweeted, “Congrats to my great friend on the deepest solo dive ever. Always a pioneer.” Cameron surfaced a short time later after a 70-minute ascent.
Cameron helped design the torpedo-shaped sub called the DeepSea Challenger, which he used to collect samples and 3-D video on the ocean floor for nearly six hours. He was pleased with how the dive went, though he lamented that the “manipulator arm” didn’t work, which is “to be expected w/a prototype vehicle. Takes time to iron out bugs.” He said the team plans to go back and do a number of other dives over the next few weeks. “I see this as the beginning of opening up this frontier,” he said. “Open up to science & understanding these deep places.”
Though he’s focused much of his time lately on the dive, it’s possible Cameron surfaced with some ideas for the “Avatar” sequel. In August of 2010, the director told us that the sequel could be focused on the oceans of Pandora.
“I think what we should do there is — because we’ll have to have characters that are in and under the water — is that we should actually capture them underwater,” Cameron explained. “It’s not the same as going diving, but I like to keep my diving, which I do for pleasure, separate from work.”