Cameron has been an avid scuba diver since 1969, logging over 3000 hours underwater. Seeking to combine his two great passions, diving and film-making, he directed THE ABYSS, which broke new ground in underwater cinematography and lighting. His attraction to the deep, and specifically to diving shipwrecks, ultimately drew him to the Everest of shipwrecks: Titanic. In 1995, Cameron made 12 manned-submersible dives to the Titanic in preparation for his feature film. For that expedition Cameron developed unprecedented filming, lighting and robotic equipment for use in the extreme pressures of the deep. The technical success of that expedition fueled his desire to bring that experience to audiences around the world. He turned to documentary filmmaking and formed Earthship Productions to develop films about ocean exploration and conservation.
In preparation for his 2001 expedition to the Titanic wreck, Cameron developed revolutionary fiber-spooling mini-ROV's as well as other deep ocean lighting and photographic technology. His team's historic exploration of the inside of Titanic was the subject of Cameron's 3-D Imax film, GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS. In May of 2002, Cameron guided his robotic cameras inside the wreck of Bismarck, which resulted in groundbreaking discoveries about the sinking of the legendary German battleship, and the Discovery Channel documentary, JAMES CAMERON'S EXPEDITION: BISMARCK. Cameron was lead author on what is considered the definitive marine forensic paper on the sinking of the DKM Bismarck, which was presented at the ASNE/SNAME annual meeting in 2009. Cameron's team also made 3 expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise, and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez, over a two-year period, which became the subject of ALIENS OF THE DEEP (also released in 3D Imax.) He was joined in his exploration of these extreme environments by a team of young scientists and marine biologists to study how life forms discovered there represent life we may one day find on other planets and moons in our solar system.
Most recently, Cameron returned again to the Titanic in 2005 to complete his interior exploration of the ship. Cameron has ultimately led seven deep ocean expeditions with 72 deep submersible dives, including 51 Mir dives to depths up to 16,000'. Cameron is currently leading a team building a unique manned submersible capable of diving to the ocean's greatest depths. In 2012 he will pilot the sub to a depth of 35,800' in the Challenger Deep, and work with scientists over a series of dives in the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches to explore the deepest places on our planet, discovering new species in the least understood ecosystems on Earth.