Footage of the deepest ocean point from Titanic director James Cameron’s 6.8 mile dive into the Challenger Deep has been released, showing the desolate and “lunar” like seabed devoid of any huge, exciting beasts whatsoever. The clip from National Geographic – for whom Cameron is “Explorer-in-Residence” – is the first glimpse of around three hours of footage from the solo dive.
Cameron previously described the adventure as a “big vast black unknown and unexplored place” that left him feeling isolated and separate from the rest of humanity. He had intended to bring back numerous samples from the dive, but faults in the hydraulics system meant the submersible was forced to return empty-handed. The sub was recovered and brought to the Octopus, a yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
“It’s a prototype vehicle, so it’s gonna take time to iron out the bugs” Cameron said of the glitch, which left the viewing window part-obscured with hydraulic fluid. “The important thing is that we have a vehicle that’s a robust platform – it gets us there safely, the lights work, the cameras work, and hopefully next time the hydraulics will work.”
However, while Cameron had joked he hoped to come across mythical monsters, the only real signs of life observed were inch-long, shrimp-like crustaceans, specially adapted to handle the extremes of pressure. That pressure was enough to force the viewing window ahead of Cameron in several inches, as well as shrink the entire capsule by several inches.
The director-turned-explorer plans to return to the Challenger Deep trench for another visit soon. “This is the beginning of opening up this new frontier” he said shortly after leaving the submersible. The glitches in collecting samples “just means I gotta go back and get some more.”