The Guam Daily Post

12 23Sat11282015


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Back Opinion Treasure from the Deep

Treasure from the Deep

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WE HAVE no idea what sorts of things explorer James Cameron scooped up from the depths of the Mariana Trench and brought to the surface, but it will be like the moon rocks brought back to Earth by the first lunar astronauts. The stuff will be studied by scientists and no doubt will provide all sorts of information about the deepest parts of the ocean and what forms of life can exist there.

The submersible with Cameron aboard was uniquely equipped to gather stuff, with claws and scoops, vacuums and scrapers and lights all around. Video was rolling continuously, which will become part of a National Geographic special in the future, and perhaps part of the film director’s next adventure movie.

Guam and the Northern Marianas have already gotten a treasure out of Cameron’s adventure – in the form of publicity, however. The story was everywhere yesterday – the BBC, CNN, Australia, Fox News – and all of those stories mentioned the Marianas, of course, but also Guam, the closest point of land to the ocean's deepest place.

This kind of publicity can’t be bought. No amount of advertising can bring the sort of benefit to a destination that a well-heeled adventurer and his backers can provide, just by being here and doing what they do. Our own University of Guam has been closely involved too, which will probably result in a spate of new applicants and inquiries from people also wanting to study the ocean depths. We have one of the best marine institutes anywhere.

Then there is the Mariana Trench National Park, an undersea park whose headquarters is to be located on Saipan. Visitors won’t be able to dive into the trench the way Cameron has, at least not yet, but they will be able to see dioramas and displays of the Challenger Deep exploration and what was learned at the park’s visitor center.

Already there are international travelers whose interest in this part of the world has been stimulated by this publicity, enough to make them want to come and visit us. For that we can thank the National Geographic Society, the Rolex watch company, which also provided funding for Cameron’s adventure, and even Paul Allen, the co-founder with Bill Gates of Microsoft, who is a friend of the movie director and whose yacht has been part of the support for the Challenger Deep excavation.

Plus, Richard Branson hasn’t even done his Mariana Trench dive yet. More free publicity still to come.

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