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|Return to Titanic|
In June of 2004, nearly 20 years after first finding the sunken remains of the R.M.S. Titanic, marine explorer Dr. Robert Ballard returned to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study the ship’s rapid deterioration.
“As the nation’s ocean agency, NOAA has an interest in the scientific and cultural aspects of Titanic,” said Capt. Craig McLean, director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration. “NOAA’s focus was to build a baseline of scientific information from which we can measure the scientific processes and deterioration of Titanic, and apply that knowledge to many other deepwater shipwrecks and submerged cultural resources.”In 1985, Dr. Ballard discovered the remains of Titanic in over 12,000 feet of water off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. He returned to the site in 1986 with a National Geographic Society film crew. Since then, RMS Titanic, Inc. has obtained the rights to conduct salvage operations at the site, and has recovered more than 6,000 artifacts. Several tour companies and movie producers have also visited the site in manned submersible vehicles.
In 2001, NOAA issued “Guidelines for Research, Recovery and Salvage of RMS Titanic,” including a general principle that activities should have minimum adverse impact on Titanic and its artifacts.
“I believe that the world’s oceans are the museums of the deep and that it is in the interest of all peoples to protect and conserve both wrecks of recent history as well as submerged sites of antiquity for future generations,” Dr. Ballard said. “It was important to return to Titanic to assess the state of the ship and help determine its future.”
In addition to mapping Titanic, expedition goals included microbial research by scientist Roy Cullimore, who studied the natural deterioration of the ship’s hull caused by tiny microbes that feed on iron and create icicle -shaped formations called “rusticles.” While rusticles have been observed for many years, little is known about them. Most of the wood on the ship has been eaten by mollusks that feed on organic matter, and natural environmental conditions at the site, such as pressure, temperature and salinity, have also caused the ship’s remains to degrade.
|The mission of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., which includes Mystic Aquarium, Ocean Exploration Center and JASON Learning, is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.|
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