Page 18 - National Geographic - Whats Destroying Titanic 2004
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Aft of the expansion joint we found additional damage to the deck above the Marconi room, from which distress calls had been sent by wire- less telegraph the night of the disaster. The destruction was just as bad near the entrance to the grand staircase, a popular landing site for submersibles, where the deck is collapsing. These heavy craft are like bulls in a china shop, and Titanic's china is getting broken. Then there was the debris field, with its haunt- ing evidence of human loss. When Titanicsank, bodies had rained down on the seafloor, per- haps hours after the heavy wreckage of the stern had thundered to the bottom. Each victim had struck its own repose, some face down, others on their sides, and still others facing upward. With- in a very short period of time Mother Nature had reclaimed the bodies,leaving only their treated leather shoes as tombstones. We knew that the salvagers had taken thou- sands of objects from this hallowed ground, including gold coins, silver dinnerware, fine china, lamps, a compass, a ship's bell, a stock cer- tificate, paper money, playing cards, rings, cuff links, brooches, necklaces, and even love letters. It reminded me of that old television game show where contestants had minutes to race down supermarket aisles, filling shopping carts as quickly as they could. Now I found the debris field littered with refuse: discarded piles of chain and ugly bags of sand used as ballast. or a long time I'd resisted the urge to return to Titanic. My discovery of her in Ballard was miles deep in the manned sub- 1985 had changed my life, and not all for mersible Alvrn when he first saw Titanic the better. But I'm grateful I got the chance to with his own eyes. From there he watched see her once more. The deep sea remains the Jason Jr. {belowl inch around the wreck with largest museum on Earth with many treasures a video camera. Today there's no need to yet to be found, and Titanic is still a grand old risk lives. A newer ROV, Hercules labovel, lady, even if grave robbers have made off with is controlled from the National Oceanic and some of her jewels. I'm certain the database we Atmospheric Administration ship Ronald collected during our expedition-the most com- H. Brown,where Ballard and NOAA scientist prehensive mapping effort to date-will aid Catalina Martinez lright) view the bow future preservation studies. And I accept the fact through Herculest high-resolution camera. now that, as long as she needs protection, Titanic ROVs are the future of exploration, says will always be a part of my life. I Ballard. The ques- tion is whether the ZOOM lN on an interactive image of litanic and explore technology will be the wreck section by section, including the grand staircase. used to study and Watch an underwater video of the ship, then join our forum: preserve historic Should artifacts from Titanic be salvaged or left alone on the wrecks or to plun- seafloor? Go to / 0412. der them. ll2 NATTONAL GEOGRAPHIC . DECEMBER 2OO4 IFEllAO {TOPIj WHOI (ABOVE); SERT t. fOX. NGS STAFF
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