Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below

Image of people from the TitanicIt’s a chilly night upon the frigid North Atlantic. Though stars glitter above, gloom presses in and an ominous presence lurks just out of sight…
Sea Research Foundation’s Dr. Robert Ballard, renowned oceanographer and explorer, and Tim Delaney, former Walt Disney Imagineer, bring the Titanic’s timeless history to life. At Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below, captivating imagery, breathtaking recreations, emotional soundscapes, hands-on activities and thrilling entertainment transport you to the moment and inspire your course for exploration and discovery.
Located in Mystic Aquarium’s Ocean Exploration Center, Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below promises excitement, learning and fun for kids, teens and adults!

One of the most fascinating aspects to me was a short movie where Dr. Robert Ballard describes his experience as he made his discovery. Dr. Ballard champions technology, education and the human story in every mission he ventures. His entwined history with Titanic is a perfect example.

Seeking to improve his ability to study undersea mountains in the early 1980s, Dr. Ballard, an ardent geologist, developed the ARGO-Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system to locate and videotape underwater objects. Titanic, the ultimate deep water test site, beckoned. But what began as a challenge to test ARGO evolved into passion for the ship itself through the mentorship of Bill Tantum, founder of the Titanic Historical Society. While researching and discussing Titanic, the story of the ship, the people and the tragedy touched Dr. Ballard’s soul and “blew me right over…it was a complete surprise.”

Meanwhile, funding ARGO’s testing was another challenge. As a commanding officer in the Naval Reserve, Dr. Ballard turned to the U. S. Navy. In exchange for financial support and time to look for Titanic, he was commissioned in the summer of 1985 with a secret mission to explore two Navy nuclear submarines that went down in the 1960s in search of their nuclear reactors and weapons systems, one off the coast of Massachusetts, the other in the Azores.

ARGO proved successful and, mission accomplished, Dr. Ballard sped to the Grand Banks to search for Titanic. Though he had only 12 days to find the ship, Dr. Ballard had made an important discovery while documenting the two submarines—in both cases the downed subs left a long debris trail. Dr. Ballard calculated that if he could find Titanic’s debris trail, it would lead him to the ship.

Narrowing his search to 50 square miles, he ordered ARGO to make sweeps one mile apart. Nine days flew by and hopes were dimming. Then, at 12:48 a.m. on September 1, 1985, ARGO’s operator spotted debris. Dr. Ballard raced to the control room and entered just as ARGO glided over one of Titanic’s 29 boilers. Excitement exploded in the room. “I’ll never forget seeing Titanic for the first time in the pitch black,” he recalled. “You don’t see it until the last moment, as if someone pulled back the curtain, and out it comes from this black velvet void of nothingness.”

“I grew up wanting to be Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

“Naturally we want folks to be excited about hearing Titanic’s story through the eyes of the team that discovered her. We also want guests to realize that the deep sea is the largest museum on earth, and understand why it’s imperative to protect the Titanic and other important chapters of undersea human history presently at peril. If you can’t protect the Titanic then what can you protect?”

My son, who is enthralled with all things Titanic, enjoyed exploring the “hatch” & ladder leading down into the simulated submarine from which the discovery was made.

He also enjoyed the many other things Mystic Aquarium has to offer such as an interactive Birds of the Outback exhibit.  The enclosed 1,200-square-foot aviary houses hundreds of colorful cockatiels, parakeets and rosellas, all native to Australia. Guests receive a millet seed stick for feeding the birds. The Ray Touch Pool  were kids and grown-ups alike can literally get a feel for these gentle, mysterious creatures, as they gracefully glide just below the water’s surface and within easy reach of your fingertips. And of course the Beluga Whales, get an up-close, eye-to-eye encounter with the belugas through a series of three 20-foot-long underwater windows. Caves featuring bubble-shaped windows are built into the rockwork and offer children a different perspective on the belugas’ underwater world. Above-water viewing is possible from rocky overlooks at various levels. Throughout the day, visitors can also see aquarium staff working with the animals during informal marine mammal presentations.

A fun and fabulous place to take kids, so many hands on and interactive displays create a family friendly environment for learning and discovery!


About Laurel

Laurel Thorndike is our "artist in residence" here at We Love Museums. "Lately I have been experimenting with a very illustrative style. Using images & feelings as a writer would use words to bring characters "to life" Suggesting a possible story or building from existing ones." Inspiring artists & art periods include Art Nouveau's Alphonse Mucha and Maxfield Parrish. Pre-Raphaelites such as Waterhouse, Holman Hunt, Leighton. Portrait painter's John Singer Sargent and Julio Romero de Torres. Symbolists such as Jean Delville and Carlos Schwabe. In 2001 she studied photography with nature photographer Patrick Pacheo Zephyr. She immediately fell in love with using the camera to 'paint with light'. Using natural light to create a picture full of emotion from something as ordinary as a reflection in a small pond or a lone tree on a hill. In 2014 she attended the 'Illustrator Master Class' at Amherst College, A one week intensive with the instruction of some of the finest illustrator's in the country! Her works have been shown at the juried Art On The Mountain show 2004 & 2005 Wilmington VT and the Northeastern Fine Arts Juried Exhibition at the Green Trees Gallery Northfield MA 2005. As well as at various galleries and art fairs throughout New England. Her work can be viewed and purchased at: www.LaurelThorndike.com.

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