Science & Environment

Weather holds key for Cameron’s dive to Mariana Trench

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Media captionBefore he set off for the Mariana trench, James Cameron told the BBC's Rebecca Morelle why he was risking it all to make the dive

Hollywood director James Cameron is still awaiting a clear stretch of weather to begin his dive to the deepest place in the ocean.

He has built a prototype, one-man, submarine to take him 11km (seven miles) down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, in the western Pacific.

The team left the island of Guam for the dive site several days ago.

They say the sub is ready to go, but so far the seas have been too rough for his voyage to the deep to begin.

At this time of year, strong winds blow in across the Pacific, making the sea state unpredictable.

Mr Cameron and his team are waiting on the sub's mothership near the trench until the weather improves.

They need calmer seas to safely launch the sub into the water, but as soon as this happens they are determined to make the dive.

Until now, there has only ever been one manned expedition to deepest ocean, which took place in 1960.

US Navy lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard made the 11km journey in a vessel called the Bathyscaphe Trieste.

Mr Cameron's sub, called the Deepsea Challenger, has been built in Australia by a team of engineers, many of whom have worked on his films.

Search for new life

The vessel is bright green, and is kitted out with lights and cameras so that he can film the deepest ocean.

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Media captionEngineer David Wotherspoon shows off the Deepsea Challenger

A science team is also working alongside Mr Cameron so that they can identify any new species that he spots, and study samples of soil and rocks that he intends to return to the surface.

Mr Cameron completed an 8.2km (5.1 mile) dive to the New Britain Trench, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, at the beginning of March.

He told BBC News that he thinks that one of the jellyfish he caught on camera could be a new species.

He said that the dive to the Mariana trench would not a one off, and that he wanted to open up the oceans for exploration.

Image caption The Trieste submersible completed the only previous manned dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench

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