Human remains may lie with wrecked Titanic grave
Centenary of shipping tragedy has many scouring ocean floor for clues
Researchers think that human remains, left by passengers on the ill-fated Titanic may now be embedded in the mud of the North Atlantic. The New York-bound Titanic sank 100 years ago, and federal officials are taking a fresh look at the immense maritime tragedy.
The remains of a coat and boots, articulated in the mud on the sea bed near Titanic's stern, are suggestive evidence of where a victim of the disaster came to rest.
"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 says.
The way they are "laid out" makes a "compelling case" that it is where "someone has come to rest," he said.
Two other photographs show pairs of boots resting next to each other. The pictures were taken during an expedition led by NOAA and famed Titanic finder Robert Ballard in 2004, published in Ballard's book on the expedition. Delgado says that the one showing a coat and boots was cropped to show only a boot.
Director James Cameron, who has since visited the wreck 33 times has said he has seen "zero human remains" during his extensive explorations of the Titanic.
"We've seen shoes. 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," Cameron said.
For Delgado, the chief scientist on an expedition in 2010 that mapped the entire site, the difference in opinion is "one of semantics."
"I as an archaeologist would say those are human remains," he said, referring to the photograph of the coat and boots specifically. "Buried in that sediment are very likely forensic remains of that person."
Delgado says that 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."
"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 in an email.
There have been efforts to protect the Titanic since it was rediscovered by Ballard in 1985, beginning with a federal law passed by Congress aimed at creating an international agreement to transform the shipwreck into an international maritime memorial.
Senator John Kerry introduced what some observers see as stronger legislation April 1 aimed at protecting the site from "salvage and intrusive research."
But the luxury liner, which went down April 14, 1912, after striking an iceberg, sits in international waters, limiting what the U.S. government can do.
An international treaty would need to be negotiated between Britain, Canada, France and the U.S., Delagado notes.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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