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I'm a New York City based kidlit writer, diver & adventurer. I love sharing the mysteries of the deep with kids of all ages who love adventure.

If I could live anywhere I wanted to, it would be at the bottom of the ocean or in a tree house that I designed myself.

If I were a character in a novel, I'd choose a middle grade adventure novel, just like the kind I like to write! 

Explorer's Club: James Cameron!

Explorer's Club: James Cameron!

Today, I'm kicking off a new feature on my Adventures! Blog: the Explorer's Club. I wrote about the Explorer's Club once before (here). It's a real place in New York City where explorers share their adventures and their discoveries. On the blog, I'll use it to talk about people who are making amazing discoveries and dreaming big about our world.

James Cameron returns from the Mariana Trench,

Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

This is one of my favorite photographs. James Cameron is emerging from his submarine after visiting the deepest place in the ocean. 

What's the deepest place on Earth? I'm glad you asked.

The Mariana Trench is in the western Pacific Ocean near the Philippines (and the Mariana Islands). In the trench, there is a spot called Challenger Deep that is 36,070 feet deep. How deep is that? That is almost 7 miles straight down to the bottom of the ocean. Or, taller than Mount Everest. Or, almost as high as you fly when you're in an airplane. If you want to think about how far 7 miles is, take a ride in a car traveling in a straight line. Ask the driver to let you know when you've driven a mile. Where did you start? Where did you end? What did you pass along the way? You can also head out for a walk wearing a pedometer and measure a mile. Now, imagine that distance times 7. Only now, you're traveling straight down through the water. 

Mariana Trench Comparison Chart, from Deepsea Challenge

I think the Mariana Trench is one of the coolest destinations on the planet because we know so little about it. Only 3 people have ever been there: Jacques Piccard, Don Walsh, and most recently, James Cameron.

Have you seen Avatar? Aliens? Titanic? The Terminator? Or, my favorite, The Abyss? James Cameron is the guy who made those films. But in addition to tickling our imaginations with fun and exciting movies, he's also an explorer and someone I admire very much.

James Cameron believes that we need to look to nature as a teacher. Hmmm.... think about that. What can we learn from nature? What lessons can we learn from watching what happens in the natural world around us?

James Cameron says, "Nature's imagination is so boundless compared to our own meager human imagination. I still, to this day, stand in absolute awe of what I see when I make these dives."

Did you see Avatar? Do you remember how on Pandora the animals glowed blue? That's called bioluminescence. And James Cameron didn't make it up, he borrowed it from nature. (Here's a post I did earlier on bioluminescence). Cameron learned from nature. Once you start thinking about it, you'll see that his films are filled with extraordinary things that actually happen in nature. 

But exploring is more than gathering ideas for films for Cameron. He also believes deeply in the importance of scientific research and exploration. If we don't explore our ocean, we won't know what's there!

So, he had an idea to recreate the historic 1960 exploration of the Mariana Trench done by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, but he wanted to do it alone. Now, you might be thinking: why would he want to go back there if someone else already did it? Well, 1960 was a really long time ago. In 1960, cars looked like this:

The 1960 Oldsmobile small Super 88  Photo by: Publications International, Ltd., 2007

The 1960 Oldsmobile small Super 88

Photo by: Publications International, Ltd., 2007

In the same way cars have changed, so has the ocean. That sounds weird, right? When you look at photographs of the ocean, it looks basically the same. The colors might change based on the day and the sunlight. The size of the waves and chop might change based on the weather and the moon's gravitational pull. But the ocean essentially looks like the ocean at the surface. So, what could possibly be different?

Well, a lot. What happens under the waves is affected by how we live life on land. And, the ocean is a huge place. We haven't explored much of it, so there's a lot to discover. We can find new things and also find out how things have changed by comparing them to previous expeditions. So, James Cameron wanted to see what was new and what was different. 

The problem is that going to the bottom of the ocean is a pretty big deal. There are lots of problems and issues that have to be worked out ahead of time. But one thing that all explorers have in common is their ability to think creatively to solve problems. They are also pretty good at working with a team to make things happen. 

James Cameron is great at both of those things. So, he had the idea and he pursued it. He put together a team. They built a special submarine to go that deep. And, they had to overcome many different challenges from designing the sub to the weather to making sure that everything worked. 

And it did! James Cameron became the first solo explorer to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench on March 26, 2012. 

It took a long time, a lot of training, and a lot of help from his team to make it happen. Sometimes our biggest dreams take a long time because we have to work hard and be creative in solving problems that come up along the way. But, if getting to the bottom of the Mariana Trench was easy, then James Cameron wouldn't be an awesome explorer!

So, there's our first entry for the Explorer's Club!


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