The King of the World can rightfully call himself the King of Explorers
When James Cameron emerged from his coffin-tight submarine on Monday having completed the first ever solo dive to the ocean abyss, the Marianas Trench's Challenger Deep, it was a thrilling achievement that advanced humanity's knowledge of the deepest point on earth.
And now he has the film to prove it.
In footage the Today show aired from an upcoming National Geographic special on the voyage, Cameron talked about the point of the mission and what he saw when he finally hit the pressure-filled bottom 6.8 miles down.
"'Jacques Cousteau always used to say, 'If we knew what was there, we wouldn't have to go. So we have to go because we don't know what's there,' " said the Titanic director, who called the dive the "culmination of a lifelong dream."
Cameron's vehicle, the Deepsea Challenger, descended 500 feet per minute over two and a half hours to what the filmmaker turned explorer described was a "completely alien world." There, he spent three hours studying and filming the trench with 3-D cameras before a hydraulic leak forced him to cut short his journey.
"It was a very lunar, very desolate place. Very isolated," he said.
Alas, there were no aliens living down there à la The Abyss. Instead, about the closest Cameron came to sea life 36,000-feet below the surface were some tiny, shrimp-like arthropod (really, Jim, no giant squid?)
Naturally, the 57-year-old helmer isn't giving up his day job just yet. Once he's done with the expedition, he'll use the footage for a 3-D film and a National Geographic documentary he's planning before getting back to making the long-awaited Avatar 2 and Avatar 3.