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Preservation in Poison
Photograph by Robert D. Ballard

The remains of a nearly intact 45-foot-long (14-meter-long) wooden ship—perhaps a small fishing vessel from late Roman-Byzantine times—lies at a depth of 1,050 feet (320 meters) on the Black Sea bottom, where toxic hydrogen sulfide has replaced oxygen. So good is the preservation that the saw cuts on the exposed spars and stanchions of the handmade ship appear fresh. This find by Bob Ballard’s 2000 expedition proved what oceanographers had long assumed—that since the bottom layer of the Black Sea is devoid of life, and thus of wood-boring organisms, it would be an excellent medium for the preservation of shipwrecks and other organic material.




Camera: 3-chip video camera
Film Type:
Lens:
Speed and F-Stop:
Weather Conditions:
Time of Day: Unrecorded
Lighting Techniques: HMI lights mounted on ROVs

Special Equipment or Comments:
The image was taken using a 3-chip video camera transmitting by fiber-optic cable from Bob Ballard’s ROV “Li’l Herc” to the control center on board Northern Horizon where it was recorded to Beta SC tape. The tape was reviewed frame by frame by picture editor Bert Fox who grabbed the best of the single frames. The detail of the selected images were then digitally enhanced by photographer Richard Olsenius and copied to CD-ROM. The wreck was lit by HMI lights on Argus, a second ROV, as well as HMI lights on “Li’l Herc.”




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