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Sunday, 15 April 2012





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James Cameron's Odyssey into the Mariana Trench

Two weeks back, James Cameron flatly defied all possibilities of danger by cruising into the fathomless watery abyss of Mariana Trench. The news that a celebrated film-maker deliberately exposed himself to high peril in the deep sea left me (and the world!) in open-mouthed wonderment. James Cameron's historic odyssey rekindled my passion to know what Mariana Trench is and why he braved such a risk in the deepest reaches of Mariana Trench.

Mariana Trench

Though Cameron is generally identified as a reputed film-maker, his ruling passion has been to explore deep sea and to draw material for his films. However, Cameron's off-repeated journeys to the wreck of Titanic whetted his appetite for exploring the bottom of Mariana Trench (perhaps to encounter monstrous creatures to be recreated in his future films).

As Cameron says, he plunged into the Mariana Trench to uplay latest information about the deepest point of the sea.

But what is Mariana Trench? Geographically it is a great pit of incredible depth situated near Japan in the Pacific Ocean. What is most surprising about the Trench is its depth of 11 kilometres from the surface of the ocean.

To illustrate this, the watery hole is deep enough to submerge Mt Everest, the world's highest mountain, even with two kilometres of water above the peak. Varieties of small fish such as sole, and flounder are revealed to live in Mariana Trench in spite of the high water pressure at the bottom. Cameron enjoyed record-breaking success as the third person to have crossed the deepest point of the sea in history.

At the final stage of his journey to the ‘netherworld’, this Canadian film maker could have drawn a long breath of relief.

Cameron exploited a high-tech submariner called “Deep Sea Challenger” which is an extra special machine meant for the journey. The Australian company which designed the machine is said to have taken eight years to complete it.

The submariner has been produced in such a way that it has the capacity to hold only one person, This bullet shaped submariner records the average speed of 500 feet per minute in the water.

The journey

“As I descended slowly into the dark waters, I felt as if I was travelling through the universe. Through the glass of the submariner, I could see nothing but darkness. As soon as I got to the bottom of Mariana, I radioed to my team on the ship that everything was ok with me.....”

As Cameron landed on the bottom, he felt that he was walking on a jelly-like substance on the sea bottom.

Strangely enough, he encountered no unusual sea-creatures not even ordinary fish except for a few small prawns.

As a film-maker, James Cameron at the bottom of Mariana Trench must have been astounded by the total absence of sea creatures (let alone ‘fabulous’ crabs, octopuses or massive fish with sharp teeth.!)

Until this strange discovery, we too have laboured under the considerable misapprehension that the deep sea is the perfectly natural environment for bigger, unusual fish and other creatures.

In complete contrast to Cameron's expectation to see a ‘primitive sea bed’ with fabulous surroundings and hitherto unseen or unheard of creatures, he saw jelly-like ground and dark water.

He surveyed the bottom for three hours and captured everything through his latest 3D cameras. As he later acknowledged, the walk on the bottom of the Trench seemed to resemble that experience of walking on the moon.

Throughout his exciting hours on the gloomy and dangerous world, Cameron felt that he was standing on another strange, depopulated planet. Nevertheless, these three hours must have been the dealiest but most significant spell in Cameron's life and this experience deserves to be called an exceptional adventure - much more exciting than the like in cinema.

Cameron did not forget to obtain samples from the sea bottom in the course of his three-hour ordeal under eleven kilometres of water in pitch darkness.

Wherever the light form the submariner fell, Cameron noticed bizarre landscape which has been enshrouded by dispiritingly dark water for millions of years.

For Cameron, it was a bleak world - a completely peculiar world with no mark of life of any type and he felt as if he was strolling on the moon.

As he acknowledged, he was overwhelmed by the strange sensation that how undersized he appeared against the barren and unexampled terrain of dark water.

He might have been impressed by the rare landscape which falls beyond the boundaries of human imagination. Now and then a variety of tiny creatures that resembled shrimps hit the sides of the submariner.

In whatever way, James Cameron's risky expedition into the Mariana signals the first delving by man into the deepest point of sea in the history of deep sea exploration. The solitary and uninhabited apprearence of the place greatly astonished him because, as a film maker, he would have expected more dramatic atmosphere in the deep hole.

He could not spend more than three hours under-water as he detected a technical defect (probably a fuel defect) in the submariner.

Sensing the forthcoming danger he steered the machine up the water and as he claims, the return journey took up 70 minutes. After a helicopter monitored the submariner, the ship made arrangements to hall it up on board. Diving into deep sea has been his hobby from his childhood. During his lifetime, Cameron has travelled 72 times to the bottom of deep sea.

Out of it, 33 cruises have been made to the wreckage of Titanic which probably inspired him to create his cinematic masterpiece ‘Titanic'.

It is important to note that Cameron had a special training to keep his body folded in the small pilot's cabin of the submariner which he used to probe the bottom of Mariana Trench.

During 58 years of his life, James Cameron has left a choicest legacy of films which comprise ‘Titanic’, Avatar, Terminator’, Aliens (serial),

‘The abyss’, ‘True lies’ etc. When questioned whether he discovered anything worth while for his next cinematic work, he expressed his confidence that everything he saw will enrich his imagination and future films will reflect the effects.


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