Divers made a surprising discovery near the wreck of the Titanic

Divers made a surprising discovery near the wreck of the Titanic

(CNN) — The wreck of the Titanic lies in two pieces at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, slowly disintegrating nearly 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) below the surface, but it’s not alone. A sonar probe discovered some 26 years ago has now shown that there is much more to this underwater area than previously thought.

PH Nargeolet, a veteran Nautile dive pilot and Titanic diver, originally acquired the echo sounder in 1996, but its provenance remains unknown.

During the Titanic Wreck Expedition earlier this year, Nargeolet and four other explorers went to the hill’s previously recorded location in search of the mysterious object it represented. Because of the size of the surroundings, Nargeolet thought he was looking for another sunken port; instead he found a rocky reef made up of various volcanic formations and thriving with lobsters, deep sea fish, sponges and several species of coral that could number in the thousands. annually.

“It’s biologically fascinating. The animals that live there are very different from animals that otherwise live in the deep ocean,” said Murray Roberts, professor of applied marine biology and ecology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and one of the expedition’s researchers. “(Nargeolet) did really important scientific work. He thought it was a shipwreck, and it turned out to be even more amazing in my mind than a shipwreck.”

The abyssal plain is a term used to describe the ocean floor between 3,000 and 4,000 meters (about 12,000 feet) of water, which makes up 60% of the Earth’s surface, according to Roberts. It is believed to be an individual, muddy seafloor without much structure. Several times divers noticed rocky formations in the plain. After the recent discovery on the Titanic, Roberts now believes that such features may be more common than previously thought.

The rocky areas may also help explain the distances that sponges and corals travel across the ocean floor, which has always been a mystery to scientists. In the turbid environments where they are commonly seen, there are few hard surfaces for these species to attach to in order to grow and reproduce.

“Sometimes they end up in places where we think. “So how did they get there? They don’t live long enough to get there,” Roberts said. “But if there are more of these rocky places, these stepping stones, than we ever thought, I think it could help us understand the distribution of these species in the ocean.”

The researchers are currently working on analyzing images and videos of the reef during the dive, and they intend to share their findings to improve the scientific community’s collective knowledge of deep-sea life. Roberts also hopes to link the discovery to a broader Atlantic ecosystem project he leads called iAtlantic, which will allow for further study and protection of the reef’s fragile ecosystem.

The Titanic has another sonar that Nargeolet hopes to uncover on a future expedition. It was recorded in the same survey he conducted years earlier between the Titanic wreck and the newly exposed reef, now named the Nargeolet-Fanning ridge, after him and 2022 expedition mission specialist Oisin Fanning. Nargeolet expects whatever it is to be bigger than this sail.

OceanGate Expeditions and their foundation, which together with Fanning provided financial support for the Nargeolet dive this year, will continue longitudinal research work on the Titanic and surrounding areas in 2023.

“The marine life … was so beautiful. It was really incredible because I never expected to see that in my life,” said Nargeolet. “I will be very happy to continue watching Titanic.”

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