First the Titanic was claimed by the ocean; now it’s being eaten by the ocean. “The iconic ocean liner that was sunk by an iceberg is now slowly succumbing to metal-eating bacteria,” the Associated Press’ Ben Finley reported last year. “Holes pervade the wreckage, the crow’s nest is already gone and the railing of the ship’s iconic bow could collapse at any time.” Given the loss to bacteria of “hundreds of pounds of iron a day,” some predictions indicate that “the ship could vanish in a matter of decades as holes yawn in the hull and sections disintegrate.”
This makes the documentation of this best-known of all shipwrecks a more pressing matter than ever — and, incidentally, provides a convenient reason for enterprising ocean-explorers to promote and sell the experience of Titanic tourism.
“OceanGate, a privately owned underwater exploration company founded in 2009, began offering annual journeys to the wreck of the Titanic in 2021,” writes Smithsonian.com’s Michelle Harris. “This year, civilian ‘mission specialists’ paid $250,000 each for the privilege of joining diving experts, historians and scientists on the expedition.”
OceanGate’s latest expedition produced the video above. It features a brief clip of footage of the Titanic in 8K resolution, the highest-quality video yet used to shoot the ship in its final resting place two and a half miles beneath the North Atlantic. (Stephen Low’s 1992 documentary Titanica used IMAX film, an extremely high-resolution medium but one difficult to compare with modern digital video.) That level of detail captures aspects of the Titanic previously only suggested in photographs, or indeed never before seen — at least not in this ruinous and eerily majestic suboceanic state. The survivors of the sinking are all long gone, but how long will the ship itself be able to reveal its secrets to us?
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.