Move over, Star Trek crew: James Cameron has officially boldly gone where no man has gone before. If space is the final frontier, I think I'd argue that diving seven freaking miles below the surface of the Earth's ocean is a damn close runner-up.
As you've probably heard, Cameron made history yesterday by becoming the first man to travel alone to reach the deepest part of the ocean. He descended in a submersible called Deepsea Challenger, and managed to successfully reach the "Challenger Deep"—an area at the very bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench.
So, what unworldly visions did the famed Hollywood director record with his high-resolution 3D cameras, as he spent more than 3 hours at 35,756 feet deep?
Well … it sounds like the much-hoped-for deep sea life visuals (monstrous squids! Bizarre jellyfish! ANCIENT CRASH LANDED ALIEN SHIP) for the inevitable IMAX experience haven't quite been captured yet. According to Cameron, the bottom of the trench that he experienced was, in a way, like the surface of the moon:
I landed on a very soft, almost gelatinous flat plain. Once I got my bearings, I drove across it for quite a distance ... and finally worked my way up the slope. The only free swimmers I saw were small amphipods. When I was in the New Britain Trench a couple weeks ago, the bottom was covered in the tracks of small animals, which gave it an eggshell appearance. (In the Challenger Deep) the bottom was completely featureless. I had this idea that life would adapt to the deep ... but I don't think we're seeing that. (...) This is a vast frontier down there that's going to take us a while to understand. The impression to me was it's very lunar, very isolated. I felt as if, in the space of one day, I'd gone to another planet and come back.
Of course, just because he didn't encounter any living creatures aside from the small shrimp doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to be learned from samples and footage gathered during the trip—but I'm sure there's at least a tiny bit of disappointment that he didn't come across some super freaky new sea life. After all, the entire expedition was filmed for a 3D feature film both for theatrical release and the National Geographic Channel.
Still, even without the visual WHOAH factor of some crazy never-before-seen hundred-foot luminescent octowhaletopod, I'm betting Camera and his crew will create a hugely popular documentary about the mind-blowing technological and scientific efforts behind the dive. His actual descent will likely make great video (he was crammed into a 43" sphere, enduring extreme heat and cold during the superfast descent, while water dripped everywhere—GAH!), and the details of what went into the creation of the sub itself will be fascinating to see.
Plus, as the saying goes from Cameron's first blockbuster, he'll be baaaaaaaaack. There are already more dives planned in the coming weeks, and Cameron hopes the interest in his project will start a new chapter in deep-sea exploration:
Every time you dive, you hope you'll see something new—some new species. Sometimes the ocean gives you a gift, sometimes it doesn't. But I call this dive just the first phase. We prove that the vehicle works, and hopefully bring some real science back.
What an amazing guy. I can't imagine anything more terrifying that being crammed into a metal tube in order to descend to the very bottom of the ocean (unless maybe the sub was also filled with spiders), but I'm glad someone else has the balls to do it ... so I can observe from the safety of a theater seat.
What's your prediction on the upcoming Deep Sea Challenge movie? Will you be interested in seeing it?
Image via Deep Sea Challenge