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Sir Richard Branson And BBC To Dive The Mariana Trench

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James Cameron‘s love of deep-sea diving is well known, as underwater life inspired the design of Pandora in “Avatar.” So when Cameron won’t do a dive because of the inherent danger, you’d have to be crazy to try it yourself.

Well, call Sir Richard Branson and the BBC crazy.

BBC Earth and Virgin Oceanic are teaming up for the “Five Dives” project, which will put camera crews down into five of the deepest points of our planet’s oceans. Included in the project is a dive into the nearly 36,000-feet-deep Mariana Trench.

Cameron had planned to dive into the Mariana Trench as well, in order to do research for “Avatar 2” and find inspiration for new creature and environment designs. He even has a submersible halfway built. But since the earthquake that hit Japan happened, that area could be subject to aftershocks for years to come, and no insurer wants to cover Cameron’s team as they dive into the area. Thus, the dive has been called off, and “Avatar 2” has been delayed.

BBC Earth, the team that brought you “Planet Earth”, seems unfazed: their planned expedition with Virgin Oceanic into the Mariana Trench, along with four other deep dives, is going forward as planned. The crew will capture images in 3D at IMAX quality.

The high risk comes with a high reward, though, as the footage will be unprecedented: filming has never been allowed before at these depths. Neil Nightingale, the creative director for BBC Earth, expects great things: “94% of all known life is aquatic and this expedition will uncover never seen behaviour and footage,” said Nightingale.

“Quite simply we don’t yet know exactly what we will find.”

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