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Mariana Trench: James Cameron’s diving world record now beaten

The Bottom of the Mariana Trench Credits : ATLANTIC PRODUCTIONS / DISCOVERY CHANNE

The diving record held by the explorer and filmmaker, James Cameron since 2012 has just been beaten.  The business man Victor Vescovo dived solo into the depths of the Mariana Trench to the depth of 10, 927 metres. 

Businessman explorer

Victor Vescovo is a real modern day explorer.  After having climbed all the highest mountains on each continent, he wanted to dive into the deepest parts of the planet’s five oceans.  Last December he reached the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean in the depths of the the Porto Rico Trench at a little more than 8,000 metres below the water.  However now the businessman has just beaten James Cameron’s world record in the Mariana Trench by 20 metres.

Life at the bottom

In an recent interview Vescovo described what he saw at the bottom of the ocean.  He stated that “The bottom was a flat, beige basin of sorts with a very thick layer of silt. There were some small, translucent animals that gently undulate to move about—but there was definitely life at the very bottom of the ocean, it was not dead by any means.”  He explained the extraordinary sensation of being able to travel to such an inhospitable environment thanks to the ingenuity of human made technology.  He described the deepest depths of the world’s oceans as “a quiet and peaceful place.”  

Fosse des mariannes
Victor Vescovo, returning from his second dive in the Mariana Trench. Credits: Tamara Stubbs

A technical challenge

Managing to achieve this exploration wouldn’t have been easy. For Vescovo, one of the biggest challenges of this mission was to construct a submarine robot that was capable of resisting the extraordinary pressure at these extreme depths.

Vescovo said that “It was a big challenge to design all the systems that could reliably and repeatedly survive that massive physical assault from nature.”  He highlighted that biggest risk was a leak in that pressure as it can take up to three and a half hours to reach the surface of the ocean once you have dived into the deepest depths. If there is a quick leak then the person inside the submarine would die in a matter of seconds however while a short leak would be difficult to fix before making it to the surface.  The submarine was therefore design so these situations would never pose a problem.  In fact Vescovo stated that “I feel safer in the sub than I do often driving on a Texas highway at rush hour.

Collaborative project

The completion of this mission means that many of James Cameron‘s records have been threatened.  However the film director has taken the news in good spirits.  In fact he was an important help to the scientific mission. Vescovo highlighted that “He was actually kind enough to correspond and speak with me before my dives and was extremely supportive of our mission.”

Moreover many of the people who worked on the mission with Cameron also worked with Vescovo as well. “He was very generous with his time, explaining where he went on his dive, helped me obtain maps of the dive area, and was also the primary motivation for our trip to the Sirena Deep on our last dive,” explained the businessman.  There is a clearly a sense of collaboration to make scientific records like this possible!

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