Unexpected discovery on the Titanic expedition 

The Titanic, the world’s most famous shipwreck, sits 4,000 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier this year, researchers made a surprising discovery near the wreck.

Please also read: Great Barrier Reef survey 

At the beginning of 2022, a team of scientists investigated a mysterious sonar blip that they had picked up years before. They thought they would find another shipwreck somewhere nearby, but discovered something even more exciting. A reef made of volcanic rock, teeming with life. Fish, lobsters, sponges and ancient coral species thriving near the wreck of the Titanic. 

“It is biologically fascinating. The animals that live there are very different to the animals that are found otherwise living in the abyssal ocean.

Professor Murray Roberts
Expedition researcher

The discovery made scientists even happier than the possibility of finding another shipwreck. Finding that much life in the abyssal plain is quite rare and an almost unbelievable event. 

The so-called abyssal plain describes the ocean floor at a depth of 3,000 to 4,000 metres deep. It was assumed to to be a nondescript, structureless seabed, but this last discovery has challenged that. The abyssal plain might hold more living treasures than we think. 

For a long time, it was a mystery how sponges and coral travel across the ocean to reach a depth of a few thousand metres. These organisms have short life cycles and are highly vulnerable to predators. For now, the researchers are analysing photos and videos recorded from their expeditions to expand their knowledge of deep-sea life. They hope to link this incredible discovery to iAtlantic, a wider Atlantic ecosystem project, in order to study and protect the reef’s newly discovered and vulnerable ecosystem.

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