Robert Ballard: There is more to learn underwater than above water

Robert Ballard

From Famagusta Gazette

Robert Ballard, the man whose name is associated with the discovery of the sunken ocean liner the Titanic, is in Cyprus on a special expedition on board the US research vessel “Nautilus” to investigate “Eratosthenes” mountain, at the bottom of the sea, 60 miles off Cyprus’ western coast.

In an interview with CNA, he talks about his career, how technology has changed the way he operates and points out that in his view his greatest discovery is the hydrothermal conduits and not the wreck of the Titanic, or that of the German battleship Bismarck, which sunk in World War II or even the discovery of the passenger liner Lusitania, sunk by a German torpedo during World War I.

To date, Robert Ballard has conducted more than 120 undersea expeditions, pioneering the use of the latest in submarine technology to plunge ever deeper into the mysteries of the ocean.

“There is a lot more to learn underwater than above water,” he tells CNA and referred to the new life forms created by hydrothermal conduits as a living system which nobody knew it even existed.

On his Cyprus mission, he said he is on this expedition, accompanying his son and many other students, teachers and educators.

He explained that they communicate with schools, museums and aquariums, broadcasting images via specialized equipment.

“We have these consoles, control panels, many of them are on land. I have one just like this in my office and a second one in my other office on Rhode island, so in fact I don’t really need to be here,” he said.

Replying to another question about his mission, the 70 year old oceanographer acknowledged that he does not know what the Cyprus expedition will unveil.

He also explained that because they expect the unexpected, they gather experts in various fields, some on board the ship, others waiting to be called.

“We call them ‘doctors on call’. We have scientists all over the world who may get a phone call when we make a discovery,” he added.

Robert Ballard is not new to the island of Cyprus, he visited two years ago, exploring an area where there was a huge mountain, "Eratosthenes", 60 miles from the coast of Paphos.

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