Shipwrecks bring us to a whole other world of sea exploration.  They not only tell us why they’re there, but what marine organisms are found and its history; a time capsule of what life was like above water. 

  Our goal is to apply the science and history of shipwrecks on our ocean floors. Campers learn the history of five famous wrecks: Titanic, Empress of Ireland, Lusitania, Britannic, and the Andrea Doria. Each ship has a different story and are found in different areas of the globe. Titanic is the favorite amongst most campers because of what they were taught during the school year. This also gives campers an insight to a particular time in history: the beginning of the 20th century, World War I, and the 1950s. 
  While learning about the history, campers get to see images of what the wreck looks like at the bottom of the ocean and see the different animal species that live at these great depths. Titanic, being a favorite, the campers work together in groups towards the end to do a fun experiment related to the wreck. Finding out how the Titanic sank was one example of an experiment conducted. These experiments change every year and give the kids a chance to have fun with science (even though they are already), while learning at the same time.

  The campers will be aware that these wrecks are a special place for many sources of life and should be protected; hopefully be an advocate for future generations for their safety. Shipwrecks give away to build a new environment on the ocean floor for new plants, animals, and possible reefs. Also, while there memory is important so are the artifacts left behind; they are not to be disturbed. 
  Here’s a few little things on each ship the campers will learn:

R.M.S. Titanic
  The most famous shipwreck of all time, the Titanic sank on April 14, 1912 due to an Iceberg. Sinking in only 2 ½ hours, it took the life of 1,517 people out of 2,220 passengers(less than a third!) Most of these were steerage passengers, forced to be stuck below decks with no way out.  It was thought to be unsinkable and was the largest, most luxurious ship of her day. The wreck is 3 ½ miles below the North Titanic was discovered in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard. What makes Titanic an interesting wreck is the large amount of iron-eating bacteria called rusticles, which are slowly eating the ship.








R.M.S. Lusitania
  The Lusitania was a British ocean liner in the early 1900s during World War I in Europe. Because of the war, German raged submarine warfare against Britain, making the Lusitania vulnerable. The ship was targeted by the Germans and was torpedoed sinking in 18 minutes taking the lives of 1,198 passengers out of 1,959, many Americans. Because of the sinking, this turned many countries against the Germans, entered America into the war, and was an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought. The wreck is 11 miles off the coast of Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland. It lays 295 feet underwater lying on its starboard side, making it easy picking. Dr. Robert Ballard conducted an expedition in 1993 to the wreck.


HMHS Britannic
  The Britannic is the sister ship of the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. Being launched just before World War I, she was to be a passenger liner like her sisters, but was later to be transformed to a hospital ship to transport wounded soldiers during the war; hence the abbreviations HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) In the morning of November 16, 1916, she struck a navel mine and sank off the coast of the Greek Island Kea. The wreck was first discovered in 1975 by Jacques Cousteau and Robert Ballard made trips in 1993. It is one of the most dangerous wrecks to dive in Greece.













RMS Empress of Ireland
  The Empress of Ireland was an ocean liner built in 1904 commissioned by Canadian Pacific for the northern trans-Atlantic route between Quebec and England. In the very early morning of May 1914, making a trip up the St. Lawrence River in heavy fog, she was struck on the starboard side by a Norwegian collier named the SS Storstat. The Storstat didn’t sink, but the Empress did sinking in less than 15 minutes. The accident took the lives of 1, 012 passengers making it the deadliest maritime disaster in Canadian history. It lies 130 feet below the St. Lawrence River, making it easy to dive. It is a dangerous wreck because of the strong currents and tricky passage ways. Many divers died on the wreck.


SS Andrea Doria
  The Andrea Doria was an Italian ocean liner in the 1950s. It was possibly the most advanced ship of its time, being the first to have sonar aboard and other advanced communications. On July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the MS Stockholm of the Swedish-American line going east bound and sank off of Nantucket Island. It was the most infamous maritime disasters in history taking the lives of 46 people, while 1,660 survived and sinking in 11 hours. The wreck lays only 160 feet down and is considered the Mt. Everest of underwater treasure hunting. Because of frequent dives to the wreck, the main superstructure of the ship is now collapsed.

Written By: Patrick Fallon


West Haven Center For Coastal Ecology

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