Into the abyss... James Cameron sets sail on voyage to bottom of the sea

Titanic director set to become first person in 50 years to reach foot of the Mariana Trench

The objects that inspired some of his greatest cinematographic successes lie deep below the waves, but now, the film director James Cameron plans to explore even further into the watery unknown. Today he will set out for the deepest point of the world's oceans in a submersible in which he will hardly be able to move.

Click HERE to view graphic

The director of Titanic and The Abyss will attempt to lead only the second manned expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the surface of the western Pacific Ocean.

Cameron has enlisted many of the teams he used to make his films for help in his mission; his project manager, John Garvin, is a former star of the West End musical Buddy who gave up acting to pursue a career as a diving instructor.

The nine-hour descent will be both lonely and cramped. His bright green, one-man submersible – the Challenger Deep – weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 7m long, but has an internal compartment measuring only 109cm across, the width of a shower cubicle.

Its small diameter means the 6ft 2in Cameron will barely be able to move his arms and will have to keep his legs bent. He has even had to take up yoga to be able to prepare his body for the tight fit.

Discomfort is a price he is prepared to pay, however. "Every single dive, I'm going to see something no one's ever seen before," said Cameron. "I'm going to do my best to image it, light it properly, bring it back in 3D – grab samples if I can, grab rocks if I can.

"We are there to do science, but we are also there to take the average person who only imagines these things and show them what it is really like."

When he arrives in the trench – which, weather permitting, he hopes will be today – Cameron will be boldly going where very few indeed have gone before, and with good reason. The pressure will be equivalent to 1.1 tonnes per square centimetre – a little less than the weight of two small cars.

"More people have been on the Moon than have been to the deepest part of the ocean," said Dr Carol Turley of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. "There is little knowledge and it is exciting to think of what might be found."

The only previous manned dive to the bottom of the trench, 35,814 feet below sea level, was led by former US Navy captain Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, in 1960.

Through the cracked window of their submersible, they reported seeing a dark brown "diatomaceous ooze" covering the sea floor, along with shrimp and some fish that appeared to resemble flounder and sole.

And while the director said he hopes to observe the trench floor, the amount of wildlife he is expected to find there is extremely limited. An unmanned mission in 2009 found only six animal species, including worms, sea cucumbers and crustaceans.

The Mariana Trench lies off the island of Guam. A small valley named Challenger Deep is the deepest part of the ocean, and Cameron's target.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
News
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
News
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living