James Cameron has completed his deep-sea dive.
At noon, local time (10 p.m. ET) on Sunday, the filmmaker's "vertical torpedo" sub broke the surface of the western Pacific, coming back up from the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the earth's ocean.
"It was very lunar, very desolate," Cameron told reporters this morning in a press call. "My feeling was of complete isolation from all humanity."
He added, "It really gives you an appreciation. It's very different than kind of what you imagine. You have to go through it, you have to really experience it. It's really the sense of isolation, more than anything, realizing how tiny you are down in this big vast black unknown and unexplored place."
Cameron is the first human to reach the 6.8-mile-deep undersea valley solo. His descent in the Deepsea Challenger sub took 2 hours and 36 minutes. Coming back up took a faster-than-expected, roughly 70-minutes, according to National Geographic. Cameron's sub, bobbing in the open ocean, was spotted by helicopter and plucked from the Pacific by a research ship's crane.
Expedition member Kevin Hand called the timing of the Deepsea Challenger's ascent "perfect."
"Jim came up in what must have been the best weather conditions we've seen, and it looks like there's a squall on the horizon," said Hand, a NASA astrobiologist and National Geographic emerging explorer.
Before surfacing about 300 miles southwest of Guam, Cameron spent hours hovering over the seafloor and gliding along its cliff walls, collecting samples and video with 3-D cameras.