Stop plundering of the Titanic, says expert who found wreck
Monday 16 April 2012
New rules must be implemented to stop people from plundering the Titanic, according to Dr Robert Ballard, who found the ship nearly 27 years ago.
The American oceanographer, who located the wreck in September 1985, took part in commemorative events at the new Titanic Belfast visitor centre on Saturday and used the occasion to highlight what he believes to be evidence of pillaging from the wreck.
In a public lecture, the self-confessed "equal-opportunity explorer" cited the ship's crow's nest and a light fixture as items that had "gone".
"You don't stick your finger in the Mona Lisa when you go to the Louvre," he quipped.
Dr Ballard also displayed photos to the audience showing areas where rust on the ship had been disturbed by what he believes to be robotic submarines landing on its surface.
"I have no problem with people visiting the Titanic," he said, "if we can get some rules to visitations."
Titanic's wreckage in the North Atlantic, which is in international waters and hence outside the jurisdiction of any state, is now protected under a Unesco convention as a site of cultural heritage, a status bestowed upon wrecks that have been submerged for 100 years. The convention aims to stop the illegal pillage of sites.
"The Unesco convention puts teeth to the protection of the Titanic," Dr Ballard told The Independent.
The 69-year-old stopped short of saying who was "plundering" the Titanic, but in a pointed remark said "Russians are selling dives" to the wreck that he discovered approximately 340 nautical miles from Canada's east coast at a depth of 3,800 metres.
"You don't go to a cemetery with a shovel unless you are burying somebody," said Dr Ballard, who believes it is the "world's responsibility" to protect the wreckage.
"The question is do you go through the museums of the deep to appreciate the museum or to plunder?"
Dr Ballard described visiting the Titanic with deep-sea robots as "easy" and explained how technology could be used to relay live images of the wreck across the world, including at the new visitor centre, for educational purposes. But he believes technology could also be used to police the site.
"It's trying to create this ethos that modern technology provides us with to look, but not to touch," he said. "I am interested in protecting human history in the ocean that is at peril. We can put cops and sentries on the Titanic."
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Life & Style blogs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...