'Titanic' director James Cameron attempting real-life deep-sea adventure

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by Jason Caroll, CNN

KTVK

Posted on March 9, 2012 at 4:13 PM

ON THE SOLOMON SEA, OFF THE COAST OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA -- Movie director James Cameron earned fame with his ambitious movies.

Now, the "Titanic" director is turning that ambition in a different direction: to real-life deep sea exploration.

He's trying to reach the bottom of the ocean.

CNN's Jason Caroll was invited along for the ride, and filed this report from on board the Mermaid Sapphire in the Solomon Sea:

Carroll was the only news reporter invited on the ship during Cameron’s test dives off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Cameron is on a mission and this is another step -- or, better to say -- dive towards reaching it.

"It's so exciting. Because every second you see something cool. I tell you, I'm wiped out after the dive, because your brain is going 1,000 miles an hour," explained Cameron.

Though Cameron may be best known for directing two of the highest-grossing films of all time, "Avatar" and "Titanic," he is also known in the scientific community as an accomplished deep sea explorer.

After working for several years, Cameron and his team of scientists have created a technologically advanced sub take him to the deepest known point on the planet.

In a joint project with the National Geographic Society, Cameron has set his sights on Challenger Deep. It's carved in the Mariana Trench some 36,000 feet below the surface of the ocean -- nearly seven miles down.

"I want to get down there, look around and image, and use these 3-D cameras, and bring it on back to see what's there, you know. I mean, it's the last unexplored frontier on the planet," Cameron says.

Cameron has taken his sub, aptly named "Deepsea Challenger," on a series of test dives.

Already the team has collected strange looking organisms at depths so extreme it would crush a man.

It's a treasure trove for scientists.

Cameron plans to spend six hours at the bottom of the trench filming and collecting samples for research in marine biology, microbiology, astrobiology, marine geology and geophysics.

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