RMS Titanic Yields Mysterious Microbes

In 1912 when the RMS Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton England to New York City, many speculated that the massive ship would prove unsinkable.  But then en route it encountered an iceberg that collided with the massive vessel ending the lives of 1,517 people including its captain.  But as this mysterious disaster has captured the imaginations of millions it still yields new mysteries almost every time it is investigated.  And now the latest mystery is the presence of some previously undiscovered passengers.  But unlike the other passengers, these did not have a ticket and most did not arrive on the vessel until years after it sank.

The new residents are a type of microbe previously undiscovered known as Halomonas titanicae were named after the ill fated ship.  And just as the vessel of its namesake, Halomonas titanicae will be a matter of scientific interest for quite some time.  The microbes live in the porous structures that are developed on top of rust as it turns the once proud ship into a tomb no doubt to be left to the annals of history for the coming centuries.

But even as the ship remains in its resting place never to rise again from the waters, a new breed of passenger somehow throughout the next 100 years stowed away on the ship and started multiplying in masse.  Halomonas titanicae, though previously unknown to scientists is proving quite the interesting specimen.  Though they were gathered up twelve years ago by the Mir 2 Robotic submersible pod, they have remained in laboratories without being discovered.

But just recently, researchers at Dalhousie University uncovered what appeared to be a new life form in laboratories.  And as they explored the organisms closer, they realized that it may have dramatic implications for the development of future seafaring technology and could change our views entirely on one of the constant threats to operations taking place in water – rust.

But the microbes and the rust on which they were discovered may soon be under scientific scrutiny as their discovery allows scientists to look more deeply into how the mysterious formations known as “rusticles.”  Rusticles are icicle-like formations that often appear on sunken ships after they sink beneath the waves.  But up until recently the true meaning of their presence was largely unknown.  And far from the once long thought abandoned warehouses devoid of life, it turns out now that many bacteria may consider them home including the titanicae which allow for the formations to develop their strange stalagmite and stalagtite-like structures.  The formations are suspected to be the homes to many other bacteria as well.  What else will we discover as we explore this ancient watery tomb?  If there’s anything this most recent discovery tells us, it’s that we may not actually have to go out for another expedition in order to discover anything at all.  The rusting of vessels is also a very important point of research for many who suggest the discovery of these formations could even lead to cheaper ways of preventing rust in long