Scientists have found a stunning volcanic reef near the sunken Titanic years after a mystery perplexed the experts.
Nearly 30 years ago, veteran Nautile submersible pilot and Titanic diver PH Nargeolet observed an odd object showing up on sonar near the famed shipwreck, sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic at 9,514 feet.
Scientists thought it could be a geological feature or potentially another shipwreck.
Several years later, divers were sent into the area on an expedition conducted by OceanGate Expeditions. Once underwater, they discovered a volcanic formation. However, it got even better as that formation was teeming with life.
Divers found sponges, bamboo corals, cold water corals, squat lobsters, and fish surrounding the basalt volcanic formation. According to Nargeolet, he had been “seeking the chance to explore” the large object that had appeared on the sonar for years.
“It was amazing to explore this area and find this fascinating volcanic formation teeming with so much life,” Nargeolet said.
The famed RMS Titanic is one of the world’s most well-known shipwrecks. The ship tragically sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. It now sits at the bottom of the ocean, located 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland, Canada.
Scientists discover teeming underwater ecosystem nearby sunken Titanic
OceanGate is a team of scientists and explorers who conduct excursions to study shipwrecks and other geological features in the deep sea.
The new, exciting discovery suggests that our ocean is home to much more life than previously expected.
The reef, located separately from the iconic shipwreck, will let scientists study and compare the marine life in the area. In addition, the Titanic is surrounded by marine life and has thus become its own ecosystem. It also acts as a reef for organisms.
In addition, many of these organisms need a surface to live on and have attached themselves to the ship’s remains.
“Shipwrecks act as artificial reefs. They sit up above the surrounding seabed and provide a hard surface that animals like corals and sponges can fix onto. They’re also complex structures that animals like fish can use as a habitat or refuge,” Professor of Applied Marine Biology and Ecology in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, Murray Roberts said.
“Because we discovered a natural deep-sea rocky reef close to the Titanic wreck, albeit a little shallower, we can compare and contrast what’s living there with what we find on Titanic,” he added. “There are many more deep-sea corals growing on Titanic now in 2022 than when the wreck was first filmed in the mid-1980s. As part of our work we’re going back through the archives to see how things have changed.”
Scientists from OceanGate will now examine videos and photographs of the thriving volcanic ecosystem. The unexplored rocky areas may be vital in understanding how sponges and corals spread across the sea floor.