When divers received a mysterious “sonar blip” while diving to the remains of the Titanic in 1998, they were amazed.
At the time, they thought the sonar transmission in the North Atlantic was caused by a second shipwreck, a geological feature, or something else entirely.
Now, 24 years later, researchers have discovered that the blip was caused by a rich underwater ecosystem teeming with sponges, corals, lobsters and fish.
Video footage shows the ‘awesome’ environment that was discovered more than 2,900 meters deep off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
During the Titanic expedition in 2022, a rich and dense ecosystem was discovered at more than 2,900 meters depth near the wreck of the Titanic
The ecosystem includes sponges, bamboo corals, other cold water corals, stocky lobsters and fish
WHAT IS SONAR?
Sonar, short for Sound Navigation and Ranging, is the use of sound waves to “see” underwater.
Sonar is used to explore and map the ocean as sound waves travel further in the water than radar and light waves.
Experts use sonar to develop sea charts, locate hazards to underwater navigation, locate and map objects on the seafloor such as shipwrecks, and map the seafloor itself.
The mystery has been solved thanks to a new expedition from OceanGate Expeditions this summer to the remains of the luxury ship.
Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg, and what remains of it lies on the seafloor about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland.
OceanGate Expeditions said the 1998 sonar transmission was “eerily similar” to that of the Titanic, but rather than being a shipwreck, it sprang from the ecosystem on a previously unknown basalt formation.
“This discovery will improve the way we think about the abyss’s biodiversity,” said Dr. Steve W Ross, chief scientist of OceanGate Expeditions.
‘We are amazed at the diversity and density of the sponges, bamboo corals, other cold water corals, plump lobsters and fish that thrive at 2,900 meters in the North Atlantic Ocean.
“Uncovering this previously unknown ecosystem also provides an opportunity to make a comparison with the marine biology on and around Titanic.”
OceanGate Expeditions said its 1998 sonar transmission was ‘eerily similar’ to that of the Titanic
The Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg, lies on the seafloor about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada
The green lines in the video are part of the laser imaging system used aboard the Titan submarine
A bamboo coral grows slowly, only millimeters per year. The stony branches of a bamboo coral contain thousands of small polyps that live and work together
DNA analysis of the collected water samples will be analyzed and shared at a future date, the researchers said
WRECK OF WWI U-BOAT FOUND
The wreckage of a long-lost World War I German U-boat that sank a century ago was discovered by a quest diver off the coast of Virginia.
The SM U-111 was a 235-foot ship that sank three Allied merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean during its time with the Imperial German Navy.
It sank on August 31, 1922 in waters that the US Navy said were 1,600 feet deep, but 100 years later it was found by a remotely operated vehicle.
This summer’s expedition took place in a submarine called Titan, equipped with cameras that capture ultra-high-resolution images to determine the extent of the wreck’s decay.
In 1998, Paul Henry Nargeolet, a diver who has visited the wreck site in the North Atlantic more than 30 times, discovered the blip.
Nargeolet, who was part of the expedition that returned to the area over the summer, said his team wasn’t sure what it would discover.
“On the sonar, this could have been anything, including the possibility of another shipwreck,” he said.
“I’ve been seeking the opportunity to explore this large object that appeared on sonar so long ago.
“It was wonderful to explore this area and see this fascinating volcanic formation teeming with so much life.”
DNA analysis of the collected water samples will be analyzed and shared at a future date, the researchers said.
OceanGate Expeditions’ research work around the Titanic and surrounding areas will also continue into 2023.
View of the bow of the RMS Titanic photographed in June 2004 by the ROV Hercules during an expedition returning to the Titanic shipwreck
Built by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship of her time.
The passenger ship, owned and operated by the White Star Line, set out on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.
The ship made two brief stops en route to her planned crossing across the Atlantic – one in the French port of Cherbourg, the other in the port of Cork, Ireland, where smaller ships were carrying passengers on and off the Titanic.
Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic collided with an iceberg around 11:40 p.m. local time, forming six narrow openings in the ship’s starboard hull, believed to be the result of the rivets breaking in the hull.
About 1,500 people were believed to be lost in the tragedy, including about 815 of the airliner’s passengers.
ATLANTIC DISASTER: HOW OVER 1,500 LIVES LOST WHEN THE TITANIC SUN
The RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
More than 1,500 people were killed when the ship, which was carrying 2,224 passengers and crew, sank under Captain Edward Smith.
Some of the richest people in the world were on board, including real estate magnate John Jacob Astor IV, great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, founder of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Built by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship of her time
Millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, heir to his family’s mining company, also died, along with Isidor Straus, the German-born co-owner of Macy’s department store.
The ship was the largest floating ship at the time and was designed to be ‘unsinkable’.
It had an onboard gym, libraries, a swimming pool and several restaurants and luxurious first-class cabins.
There were not enough lifeboats on board for all passengers due to outdated maritime safety regulations.
After leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912, Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Ireland before heading to New York.
On April 14, 1912, four days after the crossing, she collided with an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship time.
James Moody was on night watch when the collision took place and took the call from the watchman and asked him ‘What do you see?’ The man replied, “Iceberg, straight ahead.”
At 2:20 a.m., with hundreds of people still on board, the ship plunged beneath the waves, taking many, including Moody, with it.
Despite repeated distress calls being sent out and flares being launched from the decks, the first rescue ship, the RMS Carpathia, arrived almost two hours later and pulled more than 700 people from the water.
It was not until 1985 that the wreckage of the ship was discovered in two pieces on the ocean floor.