When a ship meets with an accident and sinks to the ocean floor, it is said to be wrecked. How do these wrecks happen? Wrecks usually happen in storms or by running aground from poor navigation, or due to enemy attacks during the war. There are an estimated 3 million shipwrecks sitting on the ocean floor all around the world. A lot of shipwrecks are as old as 400BC, and that is why they become favorite diving spots as millions dive in for a treasure hunt or a piece of history. The most famous shipwreck so far has been the HMS Titanic, an 882 ft luxury cruise ship that hit an iceberg and sank. Almost 1500 people died in the icy ocean. In 1982, pictures of the Titanic were captured by a remotely operated deep-sea submarine.
How are these shipwrecks found?
Sometimes they are found accidentally, and sometimes people go look for them as such wrecks are described in the history books. Maritime archaeologists are people who find out what life was like long ago by looking at ancient objects and ruins. Some archaeologists study the shipwrecks deep beneath the sea. They dive in deep and look for clues like coins, ivory vessels, ostrich eggs and precious treasure.
What do the archaeologists need to wear?
Divers have special diving suits to wear in deep water. Most suits have an aqualung, a small tank of air that a diver wears strapped to his back. A tube leads from the tank to the diver’s mouth so that he or she can breath underwater. The gives them the flexibility to move around. Did you know that deep sea divers sound high pitched and squeaky like mickey mouse?
How do they bring their finds back to the surface?
It can be difficult to move around the objects if they are heavy or very fragile. So the archaeologists put them delicately in a box and fix it to an air balloon that carries it to the surface.
Can the shipwrecks be brought back to the surface?
Oh yes. It can be done, but it is a very expensive procedure and can cost millions of dollars, so it is usually not done. It was done in 1961, the remains of a warship Wasa were brought to the surface. It is now in a museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The ship sank in 1628. Two floating cranes helped to lift it out of the sea.
Can you tell us about any famous shipwrecks that you know about?