James Cameron is most widely recognized for his films Avatar and Titanic, but now he’s going on an adventure that will make him known for something else: deep sea descents.
Not just regular old “Hawaii vacation” deep sea adventures, either. On Wednesday, Cameron folded himself up into a 43-inch-wide capsule by himself and plummeted down 5 miles into the New Britain Trench off Papa New Guinea. This feat actually broke the world depth record for modern deep sea vehicles by a mile, previously held by a Japanese submersible.
His adventure isn’t over yet, either. He wants to go even deeper, plunging nearly seven miles into the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific, the planet’s most inaccessible spot. This 1,500-mile long world along the ocean floor has yet to be explored or documented by humans and is expected to be populated by eels, fish, worms, and crustaceans. Cameron plans to spend 6 hours filming the creatures and sucking up samples with a slurp gun as part of his “Deepsea Challenge” project.
“It’s a blast,” he said in an interview during trials. “There’s nothing more fun than getting bolted into this and seeing things that human beings have never seen before. Forget about red carpets and all that glitzy stuff.”
Cameron had the submarine built himself, and so far it’s already outdone other watercraft in its ability to dive through the crushing pressures of the very deep sea.
This adventure doesn’t come without dangers, either. Two people have died in submersibles similar to this in previous deep sea attempts.
In his next dive, Cameron plans to beat a 50-year-old record where the US Navy sent two men seven miles into the Challenger Deep in a 60-foot long vehicle. A window cracked on the way down, and after only 20 minutes on the seabed they began their ascent with no pictures or documentation of their trip.
Cameron wants to make it known that his efforts are for scientific interest as opposed to a competitive desire. You can follow the expedition at deepseachallenge.com.