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'Avatar' director James Cameron to lead deep sea exploration mission

Titanic and Avatar film director James Cameron on Thursday unveiled plans to pilot a specially designed submarine to the deepest point on the planet, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Guam.

The real-life adventure will see Cameron travel 11 kilometres below the ocean’s surface, where he will collect research samples for marine biology and geology.

“Well you know Jacques Cousteau 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,” Cameron said. “We have a general idea, we know that we’re going to see very strange animals like anthropods and holothurians and other kinds of invertebrate, but science can’t answer one very basic question. Are there fish? We don’t know.”

The lowest point of the Mariana Trench, known as “Challenger Deep,” has been reached only once before in 1960 when U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard spent 20 minutes there in the bathyscaphe Trieste. Cameron plans to spend six hours there.

The exploration is a joint project by Cameron, the National Geographic Society, and watchmaker Rolex that is being called the “Deepsea Challenge” and is designed to expand knowledge of unknown portions of Earth.