National Geographic : 2012 Apr
• EXPLORERS JOURNAL Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society has added to our knowledge of earth, sea, and sky by supporting more than 10,000 explorations and research projects. Readers' member- ship dues make this support possible. PHOTO: DAVID MCLAIN Robert Ballard MISSION To explore and inspire discovery in the world's oceans Titanic's Titan I saw the search for the Titanic as a sci- entific challenge. But it was not until I actually discovered it---on September 1, 1985, at 1 a.m.---that it spoke to me in a way that surprised me. I'd entered a piece of history. I feel connected to it now, the memory of it, but I'm more tied to the people than to the ship: the people of Belfast who built it, those who lost their lives on it, and survivors like Eva Hart, a seven-year-old pas- senger who lost her father. She died at 91 as one of the oldest survivors. We became friends. "That's my father's grave," she once told me. "Don't disturb it." And I agree. Why desecrate the site? Technology will let us explore it remotely someday. The Titanic is more than what people who bring up artifacts for display see. The place is just as important as an object from the place. These days, my deep-sea work goes at a faster pace than ever. My ship of exploration, the E/V Nautilus, is giving us an unprecedented view of the oceans. We found 40 wrecks in the past two seasons alone. In the Black Sea we were finding one each day, including perfectly preserved wrecks from the Greek classical era. We've accelerated discovery. I haven't a clue what else we'll find---but that's just it. I'll discover whatever is there. We've seen one-tenth of one percent of what's out there, and maybe I'll find one percent. It's a continuum, and Titanic was a step along the way. ---Robert Ballard "Every generation rediscovers the Titanic," says Ballard, here in 2003 on the research ship that enabled the wreck's find. Watch Save the Titanic With Bob Ballard this month on National Geographic Channel.