2 Nov 2008

Real life 'Captain Nemo' dies aged 86

8:10 am on 2 November 2008

Deep sea explorer and inventor Jacques Piccard, who holds the record for travelling to the deepest point underwater, died on Sunday at the age of 86.

"One of the last great explorers of the 20th century, a true Captain Nemo who went deeper than any other man, Jacques Piccard passed away," his son Bertrand said in a statement.

Piccard, who was born in Brussels, together with Don Walsh reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 10,916m below sea level on January 23, 1960 - the farthest point underwater.

He also witnessed living organisms at a depth of more than 11,000m below sea level, a discovery that led to a ban in nuclear waste dumping into the ocean.

Piccard had also built four mid-depth submarines, including the first tourist submarine that carried passengers deep into Lake Geneva and carried on deep sea exploration up to the age of 82.

His father, Auguste Piccard, twice beat the record for reaching the highest altitude in a balloon, in 1931-32.