Don’t fade away

It’s probably a good thing some lucky tourists are going to see the Titanic up close while they can, as a BBC story by Jasmin Fox-Skelly reports that the ship is disappearing, and might be gone in as little as 14 years (http://tinyurl.com/titangone). The Titanic is pictured in happier times.

The discovery of the culprit started in 1991, when scientists from Nova Scotia collected some “rusticles” hanging from the ship and found them to be “teeming with life.” Finding out what kind of life took until 2010, when other scientists isolated a single previously unknown bacteria species, which was named, appropriately, Halomonas titanicae.

Impressive moniker aside, the little microbes — who thrive in the dark, high pressure environment several miles down on the ocean floor — are eating the iron hull and turning the ship to rust at a pretty good clip.

“The iron in the 47,000-tonne vessel will end up in the ocean,” Fox-Skelly wrote, predicting a sad end for the once deemed “unsinkable” passenger liner. “Eventually, some of it will be incorporated in the bodies of marine animals and plants. The Titanic will have been recycled.”

— Elleda Wilson

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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