A mysterious sonar signal, detected near the wreckage of the Titanic in 1998, has finally been identified, deep in the North Atlantic.
The “blip” suggested it was some large object, even another shipwreck, or a fault line. However, the find was even more surprising: a dense marine ecosystem, close to what is left of the British luxury liner.
The discovery was made by OceanGate’s Titanic 2022 expedition, a non-profit organization that provides financial support for marine research and applied technology.
What the explorers found was a broad volcanic basalt formation that is teeming with life. “We are amazed at the diversity and density of sponges, bamboo corals and other cold water corals, lobsters and fish that are thriving at 2,900 meters in the North Atlantic Ocean,” explains Steve W. Ross, Chief Scientist at OceanGate.
“Discovering this hitherto unknown ecosystem also provides the opportunity for us to make a comparison with the marine biology in and around the Titanic.”
Watch the video, at 2,900 meters deep:
The noise was detected 26 years ago by diver PH Nargeolet. On sonar, its frequency was very similar to that of the Titanic itself, which made it even more intriguing. And it was he who, more than two decades later, solved the mystery, aboard a small submarine called the Titan — with a high-resolution video system and laser scanning.
In addition to videos and photos, water samples were collected for environmental DNA analysis, with the aim of measuring the extent of biodiversity on the reef, as well as providing vital information about these living beings that can disperse across vast distances from the seafloor.
“We need to share the information with the scientific community and with public policymakers to ensure that these vulnerable ecosystems receive the attention and protection they deserve,” said Murray Roberts, professor of Applied Marine Biology and Ecology at the University’s School of Geosciences. from Edinburgh.
The point has been tentatively named “Nargeolet-Fanning Ridge”, in honor of veteran diver and mission specialist Oisín Fanning.
OceanGate intends to continue research on the Titanic and surrounding areas in 2023. The company had already released, in the middle of this year, the first 8K images of the wreck, in great detail: