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Livestream ‘New England’s Titanic’ shipwreck expedition

On the weekend after Thanksgiving in 1898, a storm hit New England that was so violent that it sank about 150 ships and killed hundreds of sailors and passengers. It was named the “Portland Gale” after its most famous victim, the SS Portland.

The opulent 291-foot steamship had been carrying passengers between Boston and Portland, Maine for nearly a decade when it perished in the Atlantic along with everyone on board, and the tragedy shocked the entire region – people later called the Portland “New England Titanic. ”But while we know all about the iceberg that overloaded the“ unsinkable ”RMS value TitanicNobody is quite sure why this is reliable Portland could not survive the storm of 1

898. In fact, for 91 years no one knew where it was.

Oceanographic technology had advanced significantly in 1989 when divers John Fish and Arnold Carr teamed up with Richard Limeburner, an oceanographer with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), to search for the sunken ship. They knew where corpses and debris from the wreck had been found on the shore, and they knew when the ship had sunk – the victims’ clocks had all stopped ticking around 9 a.m. after estimating the general location of the wreck by looking traced the victims’ paths in reverse. They used sonar to scan the sea floor for signs of the ship itself. You were not disappointed.

The shipwreck is located in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, an area between Cape Ann and Cape Cod that is home to around 200 shipwrecks. And although the researchers couldn’t prove that their wreck actually was Portland In 1989, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed this in 2002. There have been several expeditions since then to research the remains, but none have solved the mystery of what caused the fatal break-in.

Next week, NOAA and WHOI are joining forces on a new expedition – and they will broadcast part of it live.

The first two 45-minute programs will air on Tuesday, August 25 at 2:30 PM and 6:30 PM EST on the NOAA and WHOI websites. Spectators follow a remote controlled vehicle (ROV) as it inspects the vehicle Portlandwhile scientists share their progress and answer questions about the project.

You hope to find out why, of course Portland sank. An earlier investigation revealed that the port side crankshaft was disconnected from the connecting rod, which could have caused the engine to malfunction. However, this can be done as the Portland hit the ocean floor. It is also possible that the ship ran out of fuel before it can be moved to safety.

“We’re still hoping to examine the boilers and see if there’s any coal left,” Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser, the project’s lead scientist, told Mental Floss. “If we can’t find any coal it would indicate that the Portland ran out of fuel. “

But the researchers don’t just focus on filling that out Portland‘s historical loopholes. They are also interested in studying its current role as a living habitat for marine life. For sponges, anemones and other invertebrates that are in one place – so-called sessile invertebrates – shipwrecks offer the opportunity to settle at a higher level, where the ocean currents move faster and the food swims by more frequently.

“We’re actually seeing some pretty different patterns in that Portland Community, ”explains Meyer-Kaiser. “There is a dense cluster of anemones on the walkway, the highest point of the wreck, because these animals use the food sources available there.”

The nooks and crannies of a shipwreck are prime properties for fish and other species that seek shelter, and the abundance of these species then draws predators to the area. In short, shipwrecks are fantastic for biodiversity.

“This year we had the opportunity to visit a natural boulder reef and compare the biological community with the wrecks we are investigating,” says Meyer-Kaiser. “The Boulder Reef community had some of the same species, but lacked the large sponges, anemones, and many of the fish we see on shipwrecks.”

Next week’s expedition will also investigate a second shipwreck: an unknown coal schooner. Its trunk is covered with a layer of copper to prevent biofouling or the build-up of barnacles, algae and other organisms that attach to the submerged parts of vessels. Overexposure to copper can be toxic to marine life [PDF]and Meyer-Kaiser says the schooner’s layer definitely kept its biological population smaller than it could have been. “It’s really fascinating to see how antifouling measures still work so well after about a century!” She says.

Besides studying biodiversity, that is There the researchers will also look for clues that could help uncover the schooner’s identity. They found a shoe, a bowl, a speedometer, an instrument they think is a telescope, and discovered the numbers 898 nailed to the bow post. According to Meyer-Kaiser, that number is a bit like a house number or license plate, and they search historical records to find a match.

You can prepare for the schooner expedition on Wednesday, August 26 at 2:30 p.m. EST and 6:30 p.m. EST and on Thursday, August 27 at 2:30 p.m. EST via NOAA or WHOI.

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