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August 22nd, 2009
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Titanic Under the Ocean


“The whole world was talking about the Titanic, this wonderful new ship,” had written Eva Hart, a 2nd class passenger onboard the doomed ocean liner...

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg. The wreckage is slowly being reclaimed by the ocean. Savlvaged artifacts are on display at the Georgia Aquarium’s “Titanic Aquatic.”

By Jonathan Copsey / STAFF


“The whole world was talking about the Titanic, this wonderful new ship,” had written Eva Hart, a 2nd class passenger onboard the doomed ocean liner. Of course, even nearly 100 years since the ship sank after hitting an iceberg, the Titanic is still being talked about. And now, thanks to the Georgia Aquarium, the people of Atlanta can learn all about the mythic ship and those who sailed with her, with the “Titanic Aquatic” exhibit.  


We have all heard the stories. The largest, most technologically advanced steam liner of it’s day, proclaimed to be practically unsinkable, jewel of the early 20th Century’s art, design and engineering, sank on its maiden voyage. More than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers died.


It is with both the awe and tragedy of the Titanic in mind that the Georgia Aquarium is housing the “Titanic Aquatic” exhibit, a roaming exhibit featuring artifacts pulled from the wreck itself coupled with detailed accounts and photographs of the ship.


Upon entry into the exhibit, visitors are given a passenger card. This card details the life of one of the original passengers of the Titanic, with name, occupation, brief biography, etc. Guests are encouraged to learn about these people and keep them and their lives in mind when going through the exhibit; at the end is a full passenger manifest, divided by class and then further divided by whether they survived or perished in the biting cold of that fateful night.


At the beginning of the exhibit, visitors are treated to the eerie positivism that surrounded the Titanic’s maiden voyage, from Southampton, England to New York City.    


“I could not conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel; modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that,” said Captain Edward J Smith, whose 32-year career captaining luxury steamships ended when he went down with the ship.


At 882 feet long and weighing 46,000 tons, the Titanic was the largest man-made movable object at the time. It had the capacity to carry over 3,000 passengers in all classes, ranging from the most lavish extravagance to extreme simplicity; however, like most cruise liners of the day, its primary purpose was as a transatlantic postal carrier and cargo ship (thus the RMS in its title, meaning Royal Mail Ship).


Due to the horrific loss of life, the world banded together to institute naval reforms for commercial ships, including the creation of the International Ice Patrol, since which there have been no deaths related to ice collisions. Other reforms include sufficient lifeboats for all aboard and that all ships must have radio rooms, to be manned 24/7.

Above: Delicate and ornate China is among the many artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Titanic; Below: a lecreation of a lavish First Class stateroom aboard the Titanic.


Discovery


In 1985, after years of searching for the exact resting place, researchers found the wreckage beneath almost 13,000 feet of ocean. The intense water pressure at such depths have collapsed much of the ship, with hungry bacteria stripping it of its ornate fittings; wood paneling, gold trim, carpet, even the steel itself have been eaten away by time.


It is hard to compare the tortured mass at the bottom of the ocean with the impressive and beautiful ship as it left port.     


Surprisingly, a large amount of artifacts are recoverable by researchers, with many examples on display at the exhibit. China, clothing, light fittings and glasses have all been found and, after being cleaned, are in an amazing state of preservation. 


It is these items that are on display at “Titanic Aquatic.”


“Titanic Aquatic” is on display at the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta until Spetember 7. For ticket prices and further information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.

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