In 1986, tapes from the first manned journey to the Titanic were released publicly. These publicly released tapes gave the first detailed view of the Titanic since the ship sank 74 years ago. The manned journey leader, Robert Ballard, had discovered the wreck of Titanic on the ocean’s floor a year before. Robert found Titanic’s wreckage using an unmanned underwater camera on a mission for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Robert could not capture high-quality photos, and therefore, the images were not very detailed. The public interest by the following year began to grow about what was down there on the ocean’s floor.
Nowadays, the public interest is not that high, and people are more familiar as countless expeditions have visited the Titanic’s wreck since its discovery. But things were different and new in 1986.
History.com wrote, “The tapes are stunning in their details and clarity, showing one of the ship’s majestic grand staircases and a slowly swinging coral-covered chandelier in the ocean”. A team of three people made 11 exploratory dives on a submarine. Alvin was accompanied by a robotic camera nicknamed Jaon Jr., and it could be piloted remotely. Water Sullivan of The New York Times reported that the team could only send Jason Jr. out a few times. The team was able to take more than 57,000 photographs as well as hours of video in an attempt to document Titanic’s wreck.
Shocking insights of the Titanic
According to the Los Angeles Times, Robert Ballard said, “The Titanic has been transformed into another ship. It has the traces of the Titanic, but now it is a ship of the deep.”
In 2012, Robert Ballard said that the moment that affected him the most was when the robotic camera found a pair of shoes lying on the ocean floor.
Rober said, “Each of those pairs of shoes was a person who fell to the ocean’s floor after they drowned. Small aquatic animals and the sea’s acidity quickly started consuming their bodies and skeletons, a process that only takes approximately five years. The left behind is their pair of shoes exactly as they fastened with the body.”
Since the first exploration, several expeditions have gone into the ocean to capture the Titanic’s wreck. Robert Ballard argued that the remains of the Titanic should be left as they were previously. UNESCO declared the wreck to be a protected cultural heritage site to protect it from future scavengers. This decision came after a number of artifacts were removed from the Titanic.