The wreck of the RMS titanic is “eaten by the ocean” but will likely survive as an artificial reef for centuries, said Stockton Rush, the director of OceanGate Expeditions, a company that conducts a multi-year survey of the site. Pleasemynews.
the titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg in the North Atlantic about 370 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 15, 1912. The ship was four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton , England, New York.
The sinking of the ship, considered the most advanced of its time, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, more than two-thirds of the crew and passengers who were on board at the time. The tragedy’s story holds a special place in the popular imagination, having been the subject of exhibits, documentaries and Hollywood blockbusters, including James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning drama.
OceanGate, founded by Rush in 2009, is a society of explorers, scientists and filmmakers dedicated to the study of the underwater world, including shipwrecks, underwater canyons and other features. To do this, the company operates a 307-foot research vessel equipped with an offshore submersible called titanium can carry five crew members.
The company has already led two expeditions to explore the titanic—in 2021 and 2022—and will continue to return over the next few years. It aims to survey the wreck site using advanced sonar, laser scanning and other technologies, while capturing high-resolution images to document the ship’s condition, as well as life living in what has become a “unique biodiverse ecosystem”.
OceanGate offers the opportunity for citizen explorers to join its expeditions – the fees to join the 2022 titanic trip, which included a submersible dive on the wreck itself, was $250,000, as part of a single trip experience.
“After several years of expeditions, it became clear that there really was one thing underwater that almost everyone on planet Earth knew, and that is the titanic– and any other shipwrecks, artificial reefs or other objects that we were going to look at were so far down the list,” Rush said. Pleasemynews. “There was just this love of titanicthis need to see him.”
In 2021, the expedition focused primarily on the archeology of the wreckage – to map and document the rate of decay as the titanic slowly collapses on itself. During this trip, the team managed to capture 8K video of the wreckage, the highest quality footage of the wreckage. titanic nowadays
“What’s interesting is that it’s estimated that there are over a million wrecks over 50 feet in the ocean,” Rush said. “And there are tens of thousands of ships that were sunk in World War I and World War II that are not radically different from the titanic– they are a bit newer. So understanding how these wrecks break down and crumble in the depths of the ocean will be helpful, especially some that have toxic chemicals and things like that on board.”
The OceanGate team was also able to conduct marine biology research, examining specific areas of the titanic wreck to assess coral growth and document the types and amount of invertebrates and vertebrates that live there. The idea is then to follow this underwater ecosystem from year to year to follow the evolutions.
Shipwrecks like the titanicwhich lies on a flat surface known as the abyssal plain – underwater sections of the ocean floor at depths between about 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) and 6,000 meters (20,000 ft) – can become refuges for life.
“In this abyssal plain, when you’re not on the sinking, it’s mostly mud with occasional rocks or boulders that get dropped by the icebergs as they come south and they start to melt. There where there’s a flat, muddy surface there’s life but it tends to dig worms and things like that,” Rush said. “When you get to the wreckage, all of a sudden, there’s a surface that sea life can attach to and you see a whole lot of it.”
For example, coral likes to grow on shipwrecks, which leads to the creation of artificial reefs, frequented by a host of other creatures.
“As soon as you get a structure where larger creatures can hide, they start to adapt,” Rush said. “Having a structure there is almost like irritating the San Joaquin Valley, it gives structure to life and then creates its own reef. There has been a resurgence over the past two decades in understanding that the artificial reefs are probably a net positive in the ocean depths.”
“When you look at some of the images we have online, it’s amazing the amount of creatures you’ll see there – the prawns, the chunky lobsters, lots of rattail fish, which are quite inquisitive and cruise around the wreckage.”
During their previous expeditions, the OceanGate team visited another site about 25 miles from the titanic, which was the location of a volcanic reef. There, scientists studied how corals grew on a structure that may be thousands of years old from the wreckage of the titanicwho is only about 110 years old.
“It’s going to be really exciting, because the titanic transforms from a wreck into an artificial reef, seeing how these corals grow and which grow. Scientists are really excited to compare this to the natural environment,” Rush said.
“The idea is to be able to do this year after year. There are almost no sites in the deep ocean that are visited every year,” he said. “But due to the unique nature of the titanicwe can afford to go back every year and see the changes.”
The wreckage of titanic, which split in two during its sinking, is decomposing under the combined effects of water pressure, salt water and microbes eating away at the steel hull. Exactly how long the wreckage survived is unclear, according to Rush, but life may linger at the site for some time.
“People always ask how long the wreckage is going to stay and the whole talk is it’ll be gone in 20 years – they said that 20 years ago,” Rush said. “I think there’s a general consensus that at some point the bow will collapse in on itself, but the site itself will be an artificial reef for hundreds of years.”