When it comes to awards, James Cameron says his latest honor is "just as amazing" as winning an Oscar. 

The acclaimed director of the films "Avatar" and "Titanic" was recently named a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, joining just 14 others who hold the honor. The 56-year-old, along with marine ecologist Enric Sala, became the newest members since the last inductees were announced in 2005. 

According to the NatGeo site, Cameron will “apply his distinctive storytelling skills and innovative filmmaking technologies to National Geographic Society projects and programs.”

Indeed, ever since he was a teenager, the director has dreamed of exploring the oceans' depths. 

"At the age of 16, living landlocked in a small town in Canada, 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the ocean, I got certified to scuba dive," he told the AFP. "I didn't even see an ocean for two more years. I was scuba diving in a river but it didn't matter — I had set my foot down that path and the end of the path, or certainly a milestone on the path, is today."

Becoming a successful filmmaker has certainly afforded Cameron plenty of opportunities to embrace that dream. As we've been following for some time now, he's currently planning an expedition to the deepest part of the ocean — the 36,000-foot Mariana Trench. 

"Our goal is to be on the bottom in less than an hour so that we can spend six or seven hours on the bottom doing science, taking images, taking core samples, discovering new species," he told AFP.

Cameron expects to launch his expedition sometime next June, and hopes to produce a 3-D documentary from the footage as well. Rumor has it that some of the upcoming underwater scenes in the "Avatar" sequels may also contain shots from this record dive. 

To learn more about the other 14 explorers-in-residence, hit the official National Geographic site here

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