1. Welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica
    or subscribe for unlimited access to ET! You can also login with , or !
    Dismiss Notice

Titanic Bodies on seabed

Discussion in 'Bodies On or Near the Wrecksite' started by sue cooper, May 10, 2002.

  1. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    Hello everyone. I am new here so please be gentle with me!
    I found this fantastic site by accident and would just like to congratulate everyone involved for such a knowledgeable and friendly forum.
    Now, here's my question:
    I know that it is impossible for divers to explore the wreck of the Titanic without submersibles due to the enormous water pressure down there. I am wondering what effect this pressure would have had on the bodies of those unfortunates who went down with the ship.

    Thank you in advance and once again congratulations on this wonderful site.

  2. Don Tweed

    Don Tweed Member

    Hello Sue and welcome aboard!!
    Now there are other Titaniacs with more knowledge on this than me but I will give it a try.
    When the stern section went under it imploded a few hundred feet under the surface, spewing out anything and everything inside. I am sure you have seen the pictures of the pairs of shoes and boots found lying beside the stern section.
    I think that since the human body is mostly water they may have been presure compensated and would not flatten out like a pancake! Just as eggs are lying down there still intact! The pictures of the shoes and boots are very moving to me, and I hope future exploration of the wreck will leave the stern undisturbed.
    I am always asking questions and felt it was time to contribute a little.
    Just my thoughts gang!
    Take care, Don
  3. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    Many thanks, Don!
    I was wondering whether the bodies would flatten out due to the water pressure. I am so glad that this seems unlikely. I too have seen the pictures of those shoes and was so touched seeing them lying there undisturbed on the ocean floor.
    Like yourself, Don, I hope future generations leave the stern alone. The fact that so many artifacts have been sold as it is makes me sad [not to mention mad!]. I have studied pictures of the wreck and while I am pleased that Ballard found it I just wish that now they would leave things undisturbed and not take anything else from the site.

    Nice to make your aquaintance, Don. No doubt I shall see you again on the boards.

    You too take care,
  4. Don Tweed

    Don Tweed Member

    Hello Sue! Like I said, there are probably others with more wealth of info on this subject and I could be wrong on the state the bodies may have come to rest. Somewhere I read that if you took a normal sized styrafoam container and sank it to that depth it would end up the size of a quarter!!! The stern section is indeed hallowed ground and should remain untouched!!

    Nice to have made your aquaintence, Don
  5. The difference is that the styrofoam cup is filled with air. The bodies of anyone sinking to the bottom wouldn't be. Any air remaining in their lungs would be forced out under the pressure.

    Michael H. Standart
  6. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    There are several air cavities in the bodies, among them the lungs and sinus system. I'm speculating here as a scuba diver who has had to learn a bit about barotrauma in order to know how to avoid it, but would welcome correction by someone more knowlegeable in the physiological affects of pressure.

    If a human body were instantly tranferred from the ocean's surface (where there is 1 atmosphere of pressure) to the depth where the Titanic lies (an addition of 1 atmosphere for every 10 metres), then the air chambers would be immediately flattered. This would result at the very least in disfiguration of the face (imagine the area behind the nose and up around the forhead flattening where the sinus passages are) and collapsing of the chest.

    However, as the bodies were drawn down, the body had a chance to pressure equalise these cavities. Blood vessels would have ruptured, filling these areas with fluid. There may have been some compression, but I would guess it would be slower. It's somewhat in reverse, but when you rupture an eardrum while diving you experience intense initial pain as the expanding air in your ear puts pressure the organ. However, once the rupture has occured, blood rushes into the airspace and your ear becomes equalised - the pain diminishes. Of course the problem is different on descent - it involves an implosion and not en explosion - but once again, tissues become damaged and the release of blood into the cavities would compensate, as would the escape of air still in the system (the major air spaces in the human body aren't sealed).

    At least, that's my guess from the little I know of barotrauma and its affects - does anyone else know better?
  7. Don Tweed

    Don Tweed Member

    See Sue, there are so many people out there with a plethora of info it staggers the mind!!
    I see Inger and Michaels' names pop up all the time and they, as well as others, deliver the goods every time!!
    I read somewhere that there may still be watertight compartments that may contain furniture and maybe even bodies!!
    Anyone know if this is possible?
    Learning more all the time!, Don
  8. Imagine you are inside cabin E162 just as the lights went out. You are leaning against the forward bulkhead,(wall),as it is now quickly becoming the floor of your cabin. Your respiratory system is at maximum from sheer anxiety. Your heart rate is at maximum for the same reason. You can't see anything in the darkness. Your hear a roar of noise that is growing louder by the second.

    If you could see out of your cabin's porthole, you would notice the ocean's surface swiftly pass by, like the floor of a hotel when seen from a glass elevator going down. Instantly you would have felt disorientation as the cabin began to tilt and rotate in several directions. You may have been rolled onto the other walls or even the ceiling. Within a couple of seconds of submersion you would feel the air pressure increase dramatically, affecting your respiration and inner ears. Loose items in your cabin would be tossed around the room along with you and depending on size or shape, could have caused injuries such as lacerations, blunt trauma, twisted joints and broken bones.

    Very soon after submersion the walls of your cabin would have began to loose structural integrity as the violent destruction of support columns and joists farther forward migrated back to your cabin. The result would have been cracks in the floors, ceilings and walls. The walls may even seperate completely from themselves and from the floor and ceiling. Your cabin would begin to tear itself apart.

    Moments later an explosion of freezing sea water would have blasted into your cabin, dislodging walls, plumbing, and everything else in its path. Your body, already stressed physically and emotionally, would have been dislodged as well from whatever solid object it was resting on at that moment. In the violent, destructive flurry of furniture, glass, cloth, wood, and steel you would have been swirled around and then pinned with crushing strength in the wreckage.

    Now three things would have happened to end your life at this point.
    First, you could easily have been crushed by the wreckage swirling around you. Much like a bug in a wheelbarrow full of bricks being dumped out. In this case your end would have been instantaneous.

    Second, you could have survived the initial flooding of your cabin, only to find yourself tangled in the debris floating everywhere. The water pressure would almost immediately force all the air out of your lungs, and implode your eardrums. You probably would not notice the freezing temperature of the water around you. In this case, you could have lived for a short time before you went unconcious from lack of oxygen.
    You would have died quickly afterward as your heart went into arrest, and your brain activity stopped soon thereafter.

    Lastly, you could have died when your brain simply shut down from exessive stress. That is you pass out from emotional trauma. In this case, like that above, your body would meet its end from lack of air, but without all the struggling to escape.

    In any case, you would not have survived the trip to the bottom past about a couple thousand feet deep. Once dead, your remains would have floated inside the wreck as it descended downward. As the stern continued to break apart on the way down, stong currents of water would be swirling inside the wreck. It's possible that your body would have been caught up in a current of water and swept about inside the stern along with other debris items. Many of these items were blown out of the stern as it sank. Your body may have also been picked up by water and pushed outside the hull through an opening. If this happened, your body would have already been fully invaded by the seawater and thus would likely have continued to sink down to the sea bed, although much slower than the heavier pieces.

    On the way down, sea creatures may have encountered your body and consumed it, or carried it off for consumption later. Or it could have eventually sank all the way to the bottom and landed gently in the sea mud, where it would be quickly decomposed.

    Of course your body could easily have remained tangled in the wreckage inside the stern all the way to the bottom. Upon impact, a repeat of the violent swirling of debris and water would have occurred just as when your cabin was flooded near the surface. This second wave of destruction would cause further damage to your body as entire decks collapsed and walls fell flat. Dismemberment of your remains would be likely.

    Once at the bottom, items would begin to settle into their final resting places. Heavy items drifting down to the lowest point inside the wreck. Any boyant items still trapped inside would continue to rest at the highest points inside the wreck. Your remains would have came to rest at the bottom of the wreck, along with the other non-boyant items.

    If your body was still deep inside the wreck, away from sea creatures, or the acidic mud, then your remains would decompose at a much slower rate than the bodies lying outside the wreck.
    Perhaps your bones would still be present some years later. But as the steel of the wreck became covered in rust, your remains would also become covered in silt, and rust.

    90 years later, all that would be left of you would be any rust-proof jewelry, or metal objects you wore. Perhaps the shoes on your feet would still be found. But any organic material that once was your body would be long gone. Returned to the sea.

    Gruesome, but complex and fascinating. Not the type thing to dwell on, especially regarding a loved one. I drew most of this description from a documentary I saw about crab fishermen who worked in Alaska. Their biggest fear and danger, is to be tangled in the lines attached to the crab pot (trap) and be swept overboard along with the pot. The steel pot weighs a couple hundred pounds and sinks to the bottom in about 5 minutes. The depth there is about 600 feet. They actually made a dramatization of such an accident which stated the details about how the fisherman would perish in such an accident. In their reproduction of the event, the conclusion was that the man would probably not be alive when the pot hit bottom.
    Really makes me want to be a crab fisherman. Not.

    Madeleine Herne likes this.
  9. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    Wow, thanks, Yuri! Pretty gruesome but a fascinating description.
    Thanks to everyone else who answered my query too. I have seen your names many times as I have browsed these boards before becoming a member and have been impressed by your knowledge of everything to do with the Titanic.

    Does anyone think that one day we may be able to explore wrecks in the Abyss [I won't say the Titanic as she will be long gone by then, sadly] by free diving? I know we do not have the technology now but I wonder if such a thing will ever be possible. If only it were now. Imagine swimming through the Titanic and going deep inside the wreck where submersibles are not able to go! I for one would find that tremendously interesting.


  10. Mike Bull

    Mike Bull Member

    I'm not too sure, but I think that post by Yuri is a little in bad taste maybe? Whatever, he certainly thinks too much!!!
  11. Free diving inside Titanic would be a very, very dangerous activity. ROV's will always be the best way to explore the wreck, even if the technology to free dive that deep were to come about. Its just a matter of safety.

    Now a Virtual Reality ROV that would allow you to virtually dive inside Titanic might be possible someday in the not too distant future. But then you have to weight the value of such an adventure against the possibility of causing uneccesary damage to the wreck. But if your quest is to see human remains inside the wreck, I wouldn't bet the farm on finding any.

    However, that said, its still not impossible for there to be a location somewhere inside the wreck where a body is still located. Somehow preserved by being covered with grease or something. (Yes, I'm really reaching here. I know the odds against such a thing are very high.)

    But at least it is 'possible'. However unlikely.

  12. Sue asked; "Does anyone think that one day we may be able to explore wrecks in the Abyss [I won't say the Titanic as she will be long gone by then, sadly] by free diving?"

    Possible maybe, but I would bet very long odds against anyone ever doing so with the Titanic. As Yuri pointed out, freediving inside a wreck...any wreck is an extremely dangerous undertaking. The older it is, the more likely it is to collapse in some places with little or no warning. In the case of the Titanic, the wreck is already collapsing slowly but surely.

    I can think of less expensive ways to commit suicide.

    Michael H. Standart
  13. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    The Virtual Reality ROV as suggested by Yuri sounds just the thing. As well as being safe it would preserve the dignity of the wreck site better than actual people poking around down there.
    I doubt there are any bodies as such...maybe the remains of a skeleton if it were in some location where micro-organisms could not get at it...but I very much doubt it. Not after 90 years on the ocean floor and at that depth.

  14. Adam Leet

    Adam Leet Member

    As far as skeletal remains are concerned, I wouldn't be worried about microorganisms so much as the calcium-deficient seawater. Any human remains are likely dissolved into the water by now, even those deep in the wreck, so I doubt you'll find anything.

  15. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    I suspect that's correct, Adam.

    In the calcium-rich seas between the Queensland shoreline and the Barrier Reef lies the wreck of the SS Yongala, sunk in a cyclone in 1911 with all hands. 121 people lost their lives, most of them still trapped within the hull (no bodies were ever recovered, and her fate was a mystery until her rediscovery and identification in the 50s).

    She lies in shallow tropical waters - somewhere around 30 metres as a maximum depth - very close to the middle of the world's richest biodiverse marine habitats. Although there's life - both macro and micro - at the depth the Titanic lies, it's nothing compared to the Yongala. She's now an artifical reef, a habitat for the creatures that live in these waters.

    And yet, within her hull, there are skeletal remains - largely unprotected by silt or anything else that would preserve them other than the shelter of the wreck itself.
  16. Very interesting Yuri. And Inger. I had wondered about the deep cavities of the human body and how they would react. This has really helped me to understand some things better. But let me ask this: There was little implosion with the bow section, would the impacts to the bodies from being tossed and injured by flying debris and turning walls have been less violent to those in the bow section and do you think that they primarily drowned or suffocated in that bow section? Or did their bodies experience much the same impacts as the stern folks?

  17. I know that Engineer Shepard suffered a violent death in boiler room 5 when the bulkhead failed. This after he had just broken his leg.

    Even though the bow section sank slowly, there was plenty of destruction going on that would cause injury or death to people. Falling funnels, snaping cables, not to mention the aggressive actions of other people who had panicked. So I would think that probably everyone that died in the bow section also suffered a violent death. That is because unless a violent event occurred to stop someone from moving aft, everyone should have escaped the bow section. Especially the forecastle. Those that met their end below decks in the bow were ultimatly stopped from escape by something terrible. Just like the engineers in boiler room 5.

    As far as bodies making the trip to the bottom in the bow section, I think it would depend on where in the bow section the body was located. It seems that there was more destruction caused by rushing water the farther aft. So bodies located nearer the tear in the bow section would have seen similar fates as those in the stern section.

    There may have been areas in the forecastle that would have allowed some bodies to remain intact and undisturbed for the ride to the bottom. But again, I think everyone made it out of this area before the bow sank.

  18. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    What really puzzles me about the bodies...or lack of them...is this:
    The shoes that were found on the sea bed were in pairs, each shoe about eighteen inches apart, as though they were on the feet of the wearer, so we may assume that the body had be eaten, decomposed or deteriorated away and the skeleton disolved due to lack of calcium in these waters. The thing that puzzles me is what happened to the clothes? Surely there would be trousers, skirts, dinner jackets, shirts and whatever arranged with the shoes if indeed the shoes were on the poor soul's feet at the time of the sinking? I always believed that the shoes did contain a person and that is what made looking at the pictures all the more poignant, but the lack of clothes is a mystery.

  19. Dave Hudson

    Dave Hudson Member


    They all went down naked.


    Seriously, though, the shoes that you see in wreck photos are made of leather, which has remained almost entirely intact. All other fabrics (cotton, wool, etc.) would have disintegrated no slower than the tapestry in the Reception Room. Some wool and cotton clothing has remained and been recovered, but they were kept safe because they were in leather suitcases or other luggage. Leather is a fascinating aspect of the Titanic because it seems to preserve anything and everything inside.


    "...would the impacts to the bodies from being tossed and injured by flying debris and turning walls have been less violent to those in the bow section and do you think that they primarily drowned or suffocated in that bow section?"

    For bodies in the bow, the only event comparably to the aft implosion would have been the impact with the bottom. But even so, they would not have lived to experience the implosion of their nasal cavities (EWWW!! shock.gif sad.gif ). The reason that the bow didn't implode was because it had the time to fully flood. This extra time would have drown the poor souls long before the ship actually sank. The same goes for the unfortunate engineer that Yuri mentioned (I thought he was a fireman but I could be wrong). He would have certainly drown within minutes of the bulkhead collapse. He would have suffered much disfigurement and implosion during the descent and impact, but by then his body would have been just that-a body.

    Hope this helped some,

  20. sue cooper

    sue cooper Guest

    Thanks, David happy.gif
    I wondered about the clothing that was found. I wasn't aware that it was recovered from leather cases. I had imagined that it had been found lying in the debris field. That's why I wondered about the clothing on the bodies. So that clears that up.
    No doubt I'll be back with some more questions as they occur to me happy.gif