Divers Exploring Titanic Make Chilling Discovery
Over the years, stories of the Titanic have often taken on the qualities of a good ghost story. By now, everyone is familiar with the tragedy of this “unsinkable” ship hitting an iceberg and sinking to the depths of the sea. It’s horrifying enough to think about the final moments of crew and passengers dying in pain and terror. And to this day, a ship full of corpses awaits at the bottom of the ocean.
It’s tough to imagine the Titanic story getting much scarier. However, when divers made their most recent exploration of the ship, they made a chilling discovery that completely changes both how we think about the Titanic and how we will treat it in the future!
Back into the depths
The Titanic originally sank way back in 1912. Over the years, improvements in underwater technology (both in terms of cameras and ship construction) have helped different groups explore the remains of the wreck.
In 2019, a group explored this famous wreck for the first time in over 14 years. They made multiple dives 4,000 meters under the water, hoping to uncover more mysteries regarding this famous vessel and its faithful last day.
The Titanic’s final resting place
If you’re wanting to make your own visit near where the Titanic sank, be sure to pack a bag. It’s going to be a long trip!
The legendary ship sank near the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Of course, getting to Newfoundland is easy enough. But getting to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is the hard part! Fortunately, this crew had the motivation necessary to make the trip!
This most recent dive was led by Atlantic Productions London. Their mission? To complete a documentary, Back to the Titanic, chronicling the disintegration of the wrecked vessel.
There have been Titanic documentaries before, so what makes this one special? In addition to focusing on things such as the deteriorating condition of the ship, documentary footage was shot using special 4K cameras specially adapted for underwater use. The detailed imagery that the crew (including famous explorer Victor Vescovo) captured have allowed people to create the most detailed 3D recreations of the ship.
Such recreations are more important than ever. As this crew discovered, there are only so many years left for anyone to explore the Titanic!
Fading into history
Over the years, how long the Titanic has left has been a major topic of debate. We know that the water is slowly deteriorating the ship, but nobody knew exactly how long the vessel had left… until now.
Henrietta Mann was already one of the world’s leading experts on the Titanic. By combining her previous discoveries with this new footage, she was able to offer a bleak prognosis: that the Titanic will be completely disintegrated within the next 30 years.
What is causing the ship to fall apart? There are many factors, but the primary one is something that Mann co-discovered back in 2010.
She discovered a brand new kind of bacteria affecting the ship. And she helped give the frightening bacteria a very fitting name: Halomonas titanicae. This bacteria breaks down iron, and it is slowly turning parts of the Titanic into “rusticles” (which are basically like icicles made of rust). These rusticles fall apart very easily, slowly destroying parts of history.
Other factors making the ship fall apart
While bacteria is the main culprit behind the Titanic’s slow disintegration, it’s not the only factor. Other factors include corrosion, undercurrents, and eddies that all serve to accelerate the ship’s destruction.
The crew went underwater to learn more about the Titanic. But what they discovered is that learning anything new about this famous ship has become a race against time.
A race against time
At first, a 30-year timetable may not sound so dire. With decades to spare, we have plenty of time to learn more about the Titanic, right?
The answer is “yes and no.” The 30-year time frame is simply an estimate of when the ship will be entirely gone. But as Mann is quick to remind us, the ship’s condition is only going to get worse over the years. Every moment of every day, we lose more of this valuable history that we may never be able to retrieve.
It’s admittedly depressing to think about the Titanic disappearing forever. However, some of the research team’s findings give us reasons to be hopeful.
For example, Time reports that exploration leader Vescovo was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the vessel. “I had read some projections by some scientists that major portions might have utterly collapsed since the last photo survey in 2010, but, at least at the bow, they haven’t,” he said. “There was less of a ‘collapse’ than just a slow, steady, degradation of the exterior areas. The fact that there are still many glass portholes intact amazed me, and really impressed me just how durable this ship is.”
Some famous areas of the ship, including the captain’s bathtub, have disintegrated entirely. But Vescovo’s words give us hope that more of the ship will survive in the coming years for us to make additional trips and additional discoveries.
A return to nature
The idea of something as beautiful and historic as the Titanic disappearing entirely may be depression. But one team member offers us a kind of Zen perspective on the whole thing.
According to Time, Triton Submarines president and dive pilot Patrick Lahey claimed the ship is returning to its “elemental form.” He said that “The most fascinating aspect was seeing how the Titanic is being consumed by the ocean while providing refuge for a remarkably diverse number of animals.” It’s fair to say, then, that this historic ship is merely returning to nature!
A proper goodbye
Some may find the documentary process a bit ghoulish. No matter how you look at it, the expeditions boil down to modern explorers disturbing the resting place of over 1,500 souls.
However, this expedition’s crew was quite respectful of the dead. They took the time to both lay a memorial wreath down and hold a special ceremony to honor the fallen dead. They hope, as many of us do, that those who died have returned to a state of peace just as the Titanic has returned to nature.