When the Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 and sank the following morning, no one could have guessed that the wreck would ever be found. But in 1985 the first pictures of the sunken ship surfaced and set the world on fire. The Titanic is arguably the most famous ship to have sunk and the story of her sinking made for a hit movie in 1997. Though the movie also had a romantic flair, which was mostly fabricated, the sinking of the ship portrayed what was known about the sinking at that time. Subsequent research has revealed other sections of the ship, including a portion of the ship’s keel, located some distance from the bow and stern sections.
But there is now a more serious threat to the once great ship, that will reduce the remains to nothing more than a rust stain on the ocean floor. In a recent article the new foe is described as:
The wreck is covered with rusticles; the knob-like mounds have formed from at least 27 strains of bacteria, including Halomonas titanicae.
In the 25 years since the discovery of the wreck, the Titanic has rapidly deteriorated.
While the disintegration of the Titanic makes preservation of the ship impossible, the bacteria doing the damage may be useful in accelerating the disposal of other old ships and oil rigs. Further, it could also help scientists develop paints or protective coatings to guard against the bacteria for working vessels.
While the loss of the wreck over time concerns Dan Conlin, curator of maritime history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, he notes scientists know much more about the Titanicthan most shipwrecks.
“What is fascinating to me is that we tend to have this idea that these wrecks are time capsules frozen in time, when in fact there all kinds of complex ecosystems feeding off them, even at the bottom of that great dark ocean,” Conlin said.
So while the once grand ship may end up as nothing more than a memory, we are fortunate to have not only a movie about the ship sinking, but also a lot of video documenting what the remains looked like. Over the years many artifacts have been retrieved giving us a glimpse on how life once was on the luxury liner.