The director, 56, enjoys his special day by exploring the depths of Russia's famed Lake Baikal

By Tim Nudd
August 16, 2010 10:45 AM
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Birthdays are always meaningful, but this one was particularly deep.

Avatar director James Cameron celebrated his 56th birthday on Monday with an unlikely voyage to the bottom of Russia’s Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest lake, Bloomberg reports.

Cameron, an underwater enthusiast since his pioneering work on The Abyss in the 1980s, explored the depths of Lake Baikal in a Mir mini-submarine – the same type of submersible craft he used in filming Titanic in the ’90s.

Cameron follows in the nautical footsteps of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, who himself traveled to the bottom of Lake Baikal, almost a mile deep in parts, last August. Putin said he was surprised at how gloomy the scene was at the bottom.

Cameron’s underwater interests are not just professional and recreational but also ecological. Earlier this summer, he met with officials in Washington to come up with possible fixes for the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.