Changing Planet

An Honor of “Titanic” Proportions

Two outstanding explorers — filmmaker and alternative-energy proponent James Cameron and marine ecologist Enric Sala — are the National Geographic Society’s newest Explorers-in-Residence. Both were honored today at a special gathering of National Geographic’s top explorers at Society headquarters.

Explorers-in-Residence are some of the world’s preeminent explorers and scientists and represent a broad range of science and exploration; they develop programs in their respective areas of study, carrying out field work supported by the Society. The group includes a geographer, three paleontologists, an archaeologist, a geneticist, conservationists and leaders in several other disciplines.

Enric Sala during this year’s Salas y Gómez Expedition. NGS Photo

As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Cameron will apply his distinctive storytelling skills and innovative filmmaking technologies to National Geographic Society projects and programs. Sala, formerly a National Geographic Fellow, will continue his leadership of Pristine Seas, an exploration, research and conservation project that aims to find, survey and help protect the last healthy and undisturbed places in the ocean.

“We are thrilled to welcome James Cameron to National Geographic’s cadre of explorers and to elevate Enric Sala’s important work on ocean conservation,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic executive vice president for Mission Programs. “They perfectly round out our very diverse team of explorers.”

Cameron When the Camera’s Off

Cameron has written and directed scores of films, among them “The Terminator,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” “Titanic” and “Avatar.” His films have blazed new trails in visual effects and have set numerous performance records, both domestically and abroad, including a record-setting 11 Oscars for “Titanic.” “Avatar,” a 3-D science fiction epic, reflected more than two years in development of new production technologies; it won Golden Globe Awards for best director and best picture and three Academy Awards.

Work on “Avatar” inspired a new mission for Cameron — illuminating the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those involved in struggles over energy issues, some of whom came forward after seeing the film. Since the film’s release, Cameron has spent some 18 months in energy battlegrounds — in the Alberta, Canada, tar sands and the Amazon — meeting with indigenous peoples whose environment and way of life are threatened. Cameron also organized a task force of deep-ocean experts to address offshore oil production and ocean engineering issues raised by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. He continues to work in the arena of alternative energy.

Two of Cameron’s passions — filmmaking and scuba diving — blend in his work on movies such as “The Abyss” and “Titanic,” which took him on 12 manned-submersible dives to the famed shipwreck in the North Atlantic. The technical success of those expeditions led Cameron to form Earthship Productions, which develops films about ocean exploration and conservation. Since then he has investigated and written a marine forensic paper on the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, organized expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez, and led seven deep-ocean expeditions with 72 deep submersible dives.

Boldly Going…

Cameron is currently leading a team that is building a unique manned sub capable of diving to the ocean’s greatest depths. Next year he plans to pilot the sub to the ocean’s deepest point in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench, part of a series of dives to the world’s deepest places — the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches.

Also fascinated by outer space, Cameron has worked with scientists and engineers developing “architectures” for human exploration of Mars. He is a co-investigator on the Mars Science Laboratory Mastcam, the “eyes” of the Curiosity rover, which is to explore the Martian surface next year.

Finding and Saving the Ocean’s Last Pristine Areas

Witnessing the harm people do to the ocean led Enric Sala to dedicate his career to working to restore marine life. Sala is a rare scientist who combines research with effective communication to inspire leaders to protect the ocean. One of his goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, using scientific expeditions, media, partnerships with local conservation organizations and high-level discussions with country leaders.

Sala fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and watching Jacques Cousteau on television. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology in 1996 from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, he worked in California for 10 years as a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2006 he moved back to Spain to take the first position on marine conservation ecology at Spain’s National Council for Scientific Research, and in 2008 he became a Fellow at the National Geographic Society, where he leads the Pristine Seas project.

The Pristine Seas team recently worked with Oceana-Chile and the Chilean government to establish the 150,000-square-kilometer Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park around Salas y Gómez, a small, uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean (see photos, read blogs, and more from the expedition). Working with local and international NGOs, Sala’s Pristine Seas project also was instrumental in inspiring the Costa Rican government to create the new 10,000-square-kilometer Seamounts Marine Managed Area around Cocos Island (see photos, blog, more).

Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

James Cameron and Enric Sala stand to either side of Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Mission Programs. NGS Photo

In Good Company

Cameron and Sala join 13 other National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence: oceanographer Robert Ballard, anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis, geographer Jared Diamond, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, conservationist J. Michael Fay, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, filmmakers/conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, paleontologists Meave and Louise Leakey, anthropologist Johan Reinhard, paleontologist Paul Sereno and geneticist Spencer Wells. The last new Explorers-in-Residence were named in 2005.

Learn More

See photos and get the stories behind all the National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence.

  • Matthew Gianni

    James Cameron and Eric Sala should be congratulated for their many successful efforts to raise public awareness and promote the conservation of the world’s oceans. The organization I work for, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, has been working since 2004 to secure international protection of the deep sea from the greatest direct threat to deep-ecosystems today – deep-sea bottom trawl fishing. In response to our concerns and those of scientists and conservation minded governments worldwide, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a series of resolutions, beginning in 2004, committing high seas fishing nations to preventing damage to deep-sea ecosystems such as cold-water coral, seamount and hydrothermal vent ecosystems, from bottom trawling on the high seas. As a result of the UN resolutions, regional regulations have been adopted to ban bottom trawling on the high seas of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica and hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of ocean space in the Atlantic have been closed to bottom fishing altogether to protect seamounts, deep-ocean ridge systems and continental slope areas. However, many more areas of the high seas remain open and vulnerable to deep-sea fishing with bottom trawl fleets continuing to operate across wide swathes of the high seas in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. In September of this year, the UN General Assembly will hold a two day review of the actions taken by high seas fishing nations to manage their fleets to prevent harm to deep-sea ecosystems and decide whether to call for further international action. This review will be open conservation organizations, scientists and others deep-sea ‘stakeholders’. We would urge Mr. Cameron, Mr. Sala and other National Geographic Explores in Residence to lend their voices and support to the international effort at the UN this year to call for an end to destructive deep-sea fishing and the protection of the unique life these vast areas of the world’s oceans contain.

  • […] James Cameron was named a National Geographic Explorer in Residence!  As part of his talk, he showed footage from his explorations of the Titanic, Bismarck, and deep ocean life. […]

  • Captain Alfred S. McLaren, USN (Ret.), Ph.D.

    Two excellent choices! Congratulations!

  • Mike Land

    A group has announced new submarine visits to the Titanic site for a fee. It will allow people to see the wreck before it dissolves.

  • oucheikh

    Hello please can you send me pictures of -3000m in sea.
    Thank you very much.
    goood luck

  • archieformentera

    i like national geographic… congratulation to sir. James Cameron.

  • Richard S Liles

    Congratulations!!! Bravo Bravo Thank God for u guys 😉

  • alina

    hey im a fan of the titanic and i want too know more about it do you think you can send me some to my e-mail. i am really interested in this and i want to learn more. i also have a couple of questions to ask

  • venkata nagewarao

    congratulations,please send me real photos of titanic

  • Jr

    .can you send me a real picture of titanic caught on mini sub.?

  • Andrew Howley

    For all those looking for images of Titanic, check out the site for the NatGeo Channel’s recent show “Return to Titanic” http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/return-to-titanic-1113#tab-Photos/0

  • butterfly

    James Cameron is really cool man. I wish that all his plans would be realized.

  • Lyuba

    James Francis Cameron is truly one of the most successful directors of the planet, who directed the Oscar-winning film 9.

  • […] everybody’s review a book and they know what’s going to occur next,” pronounced Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, in a video statement. (The Society owns National Geographic […]

  • […] everybody’s read the script and they know what’s going to happen next,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, in a video statement. (The Society owns National Geographic […]

  • arsen

    hi

  • […] Using sonar, “I’m going to try to event with that car so we can observe animals that are captivated to a chemical signature of a bait,” pronounced @font-face { font-family: “ヒラギノ角ゴ Pro W3″; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }p.Body, li.Body, div.Body { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; color: black; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] Using sonar, “I’m going to attempt to rendezvous with that vehicle so I can observe animals that are attracted to the chemical signature of its bait,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] then I’ll turn 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself up the wall,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen: James Cameron on becoming a National Geographic […]

  • […] Phase two might include adding a thin fiber-optic tether to the ship, which “would allow science observers at the surface to see the images in real time,” said Cameron, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] and then I’ll turn 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself up the wall,” saidCameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen:James Cameron on becoming a National Geographic […]

  • […] Phase dual competence embody adding a skinny fiber-optic fasten to a ship, that “would concede scholarship observers during a aspect to see a images in genuine time,” pronounced Cameron, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] “I felt a real kinship with you and Jacques on the descent, thinking, Man, this is a long way down … It’s crazy,” said Cameron, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] a while, and then I'll turn 90 degrees and I'll go north and work myself up the wall," said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen: James Cameron on becoming a National Geographic explorer.) Though battery power and vast […]

  • […] And nonetheless he wasn’t means to constraint as many samples on this initial dive as scholarship teams competence have been anticipating for, “that usually means we gotta go behind and get some more,” pronounced Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] And although he wasn’t able to capture as many samples on this first dive as science teams might have been hoping for, “that just means I gotta go back and get some more,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] “I’ll be doing a bit of a longitudinal transect along the trench axis for a while, and then I’ll turn 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself up the wall,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] And although he wasn’t able to capture as many samples on this first dive as science teams might have been hoping for, “that just means I gotta go back and get some more,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. […]

  • […] might have been hoping for, “that just means I gotta go back and get some more,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. In fact, he and sub co-designer Ron Allum, managing director of the Australia-based Acheron […]

  • […] I’ll spin 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself adult a wall,” pronounced Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen: James Cameron on apropos a National Geographic […]

  • […] Cameron considered the dive a stepping stone to further expeditions in the Mariana Trench. As an explorer-in-residence for National Geographic, Cameron will no doubt continue his expeditions and hopefully present them […]

  • dalton

    where was the titanic headed for
    and why was it unsinkable

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media