You too can now see what James Cameron saw, only without the hair-raising plunge through seven miles (11 kilometers) of water. Until July 10, a United States government expedition is streaming live video from the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean.
The video has already revealed a host of rarely seen organisms from the deep, including a truly bizarre glowing jellyfish, sponges, starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, and more. The feed comes from three remotely operated cameras controlled from the research ship Okeanos Explorer, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (View camera 2 or 3.)
The vessel has been on a research cruise since April. The Mariana Trench (also written as Marianas Trench) lies east of the Philippines, in the western Pacific. It is deeper than Mount Everest is tall above sea level and has been visited directly by human beings only a few times (the most recent visitor was Cameron, in 2012).
If you'd like to follow the expedition, the location of the ship is also tracked in real time online.
The expedition is mapping corals and cataloging sea life in order to better understand one of the world's most mysterious places. The scientists will also investigate hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes, seamounts, and subduction zones.
Since 2009, much of the area has been protected by the Marianas Trench National Marine Monument, a U.S. jurisdiction due to the country's administration of the Mariana Islands and Guam.
Even in such a remote place, the team has found evidence of human trash.
"You may think that working the deep sea means that we only see pristine environments, but unfortunately, that isn't true," NOAA writes on the expedition website.