Newly released pictures of the RMS Titanic on the ocean bed of the North Atlantic shows evidence of human remains, federal officers said.
A 2004 image in an uncropped version has been released to the public for the first time in observance of the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
The images, which show a coat and pairs of boots in the legendary shipwreck area, were taken in 2004 during an expedition by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and Titanic explorer Robert Ballard.
The scientific expedition of the shipwrecked area involved a team of explorers and scientists who sent their robots underwater to explore and gather data at a depth of 12,000 feet. The expedition was carried out to see the level of deterioration the Titanic had undergone due to both human and natural causes.
The original image was cropped and published with one boot. The scientist, responsible for mapping of the ship in 2010 for NOAA, said that the unedited version of the image was released again to serve as a reminder that the ship was in an underwater resting place.
These are not shoes that fell out neatly from somebody’s bag right next to each other,” James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
“The way they are “laid out” makes a “compelling case” that it is where someone has come to rest,” he said.
The uncropped photo, released this week, was first reported by the New York Times in the Saturday edition.
Film director James Cameron has visited the Titanic wreck 33 times. He told New York Times that “We’ve seen pairs of shoes, which would strongly suggest there was a body there at one point. But we’ve never seen any human remains.”
But for Delgado, the difference in opinion is “one of semantics.”
“I as an archaeologist would say those are human remains,” Delgado said. “Buried in that sediment are very likely forensic remains of that person.”
“The images speak to the power of that tragic and powerful scene 2 1/2 miles below and to its resilience as an undersea museum, as well as its fragility,” he added.
“This is an appropriate time to note the human cost of that event, and the fact that in this special place at the bottom of the sea, evidence of the human cost, in the form of the shattered wreck, the scattered luggage, fittings and other artifacts, and the faint but unmistakable evidence that this is where people came to rest, is present,” he said.
He also said that when Ballard first showed the photo the room went silent and the explorers who looked at it could tell it had once been a lost soul from the ship.