Public fascination with Titanic reached a new peak in 1985, when Dr. Robert Ballard and his American-French expedition finally found the wreck 13,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic. The ship lies in two pieces, bow and stern, with a scattered debris field that contains haunting signs of life and death?cups, combs, mirrors, boots?all carefully documented by Ballard?s underwater submersibles. By juxtaposing images of Titanic in all her glory with images from Titanic?s watery grave, Ballard shows how vulnerable the ship really was?and still is. In 2004 Ballard visited the wreckage again and published Return to the Titanic with all-new high-quality images and an impassioned plea for preservation of the site. A final book, 2008?s Titanic: The Last Great Images, is an attempt to document the wreck before it is gone forever, picked away by the ravages of time and even more so by scavengers who seek to get rich from Titanic?s ruin and aren?t so bothered if their submersible scrapes a railing or removes an artifact. Ballard?s case for conservation is a strong one; the long search for Titanic?s resting place is a riveting tale of perseverance and scientific ingenuity; the ghostly images of the sunken ship are mesmerizing.
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