National Geographic has released the first footage of James Cameron's dive to the ocean's deepest point: the Mariana Trench. Cameron reached the Trench at the beginning of this week, spending three hours collecting samples and 3D video footage. In the video, we're able to see the first hints of what he found: a barren landscape that Cameron describes as "a very lunar, very desolate place." Cameron describes a few bioluminescent creatures adapted to survive the incredible pressure, but you won't find anything but what looks like patches of lichen in the footage released so far.
Cameron's trip 35,756 feet below the ocean's surface is the deepest solo dive ever undertaken, and the first time anyone has reached the Challenger Deep — the deepest point of the Trench — for half a century. To undertake the trip, Cameron and his team worked for seven years to design the Deepsea Challenger, a craft that can withstand shrinking up to three inches in length as water pressure increases. There's sadly little ocean footage in the video, but Cameron heads underwater around forty seconds in.