Exactly one year after plunging to the Pacific Ocean's deepest point and breaking records along the way, James Cameron has announced that he's donating the one-man submersible that took him there to science.
The 58-year-old, currently hard at work in New Zealand on the "Avatar" sequels, has designated the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as the recipient of the craft, noting the organization's leadership in developing deep submersible technology.
"The seven years we spent designing and building the Deepsea Challenger were dedicated to expanding the options available to deep-ocean researchers," said Cameron in a joint statement. "Our sub is a scientific proof-of-concept, and our partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a way to provide the technology we developed to the oceanographic community."
He added: "WHOI is a world leader in deep submergence, both manned and unmanned. I've been informally associated with WHOI for more than 20 years, and I welcome this opportunity to formalise the relationship with the transfer of the Deepsea Challenger submersible system and science platform. WHOI is a place where the Deepsea Challenger system will be a living, breathing and dynamic programme going forward."
Last year's record-breaking dive saw Cameron travel 7 miles beneath the surface of the western Pacific. "When I got to the bottom ... it was completely featureless and uniform," he said. "My feeling was one of complete isolation from all of humanity. ... More than anything, (it's) realizing how tiny you are down in this big, vast, black, unknown and unexplored place."
As part of the agreement with the WHOI, Cameron will serve as an advisory board member on the organization's newly launched Centre for Marine Robotics.
"Jim's record-breaking dive was inspirational and helped shine a spotlight on the importance of the deep ocean," said Susan Avery, president and director of WHOI. "We face many challenges in our relationship with the ocean, so there is heightened urgency to implement innovative approaches. Partnerships such as this one represent a new paradigm and will accelerate the progress of ocean science and technology development."
The Deepsea Challenger is expected to be delivered to the institute early this summer.