• The Titanic wreckage site continues to be a big draw for the wealthy and adventurous.
  • But experienced deep-sea explorers tell Business Insider there's nothing more to see there.
  • Hot sea vents and deep-water coral reefs are under-explored and far more accessible, explorers say.

The Titanic may be one of the most popular and identifiable wreckage sites in the history of sea travel.

It also may be one of the most overrated, deep-sea explorers told Business Insider.

More than a century after the ocean liner sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, the Titanic has proven the staying power of its lore, not least in part due to James Cameron's 1997 film, which became the first billion-dollar box office success. The film reignited interest in the ship and created a fandom that lives strong to this day. Titanic-themed birthday, anyone?

Then, in 2023, five people died in OceanGate's Titan submersible during a dive to the wreckage site, once again placing the iconic ship at the forefront of the news cycle.

Despite the wreckage's thorough documentation and the recent fate of the OceanGate submersible, the wealthy and well-resourced continue to pour efforts to venture 12,500 feet into the ocean just to see the site of the 1912 sinking.

Passengers on the Titan paid up to $250,000 for a seat inside the submersible. Now, billionaire real estate investor Larry Connor said he will voyage to the Titanic.

Deep-sea explorers are left wondering: Why?

'People are trying to impress people'

"The wreck is well-documented," Karl Stanley, a submersible expert, told BI in a recent interview. "That's probably the best documented deep-water wreck there is."

Stanley, who owns a submersible tourism company, Stanley Submarines, was one of many colleagues who warned OceanGate's CEO Stockton Rush about the dangers of rushing to produce a vessel that could take people to the Titanic.

For him, the wealthy's desire to visit the shipwreck has less to do with a genuine passion for deep-sea exploration and more to do with namesake recognition.

"I think whatever market exists for tourism to the Titanic is extremely analogous to the kind of clientele that pays Sherpas to drag them up Mt. Everest," Stanley said, referring to the Nepalese ethnic group that dwells in the Himalayan mountains. Some climbers pay up to $15,000 per expedition to have a Sherpa guide, BI previously reported.

Since the early 1900s, more than 330 people have died on the mountain, and 107 of them were Sherpas, according to The Himalayan Database.

Stanley said there are more dangerous but less traveled mountains and shipwrecks that are less deep but better preserved, such as the HMHS Britannic, Titanic's sister ship, which lies in a relatively shallow grave of about 400 feet, near the Greek island of Kea.

"People are trying to impress people," he said.

Guillermo Söhnlein, the cofounder of OceanGate who left the company in 2013, agreed with Stanley.

While he doesn't want to discourage anyone's genuine passion for the iconic ocean liner, Söhnlein told BI in an interview that the Titanic "holds no interest for me whatsoever."

"One of the reasons I talked with Stockton all the time in the recent years is he would always call me before the expedition to see if I wanted to come to the Titanic," he said.

"And honestly, I never had any desire to go to the Titanic. I just don't see the appeal of it," Söhnlein said, "For me, personally, I think a big part of that is because I prefer exploration. And the Titanic has already been visited, it's been documented, its been filmed. James Cameron has done a phenomenal job on it."

Brine pools and unexplored blue holes

Stanley and Söhnlein said they're less interested in shipwreck sites overall and more keen on exploring the ocean's ecosystem.

"Hot sea vents, brine pools, and deep-water coral reefs would all be more interesting than a shipwreck and can be accessed by going 2,000-5,000 feet, not the 13,000 feet it takes to get to the Titanic," Stanley said.

Similarly, Söhnlein is interested in deep trenches and hydrothermal vents — something Rush was also passionate about, he said.

Söhnlein explained that they're "almost completely unexplored," "play key roles in our planetary dynamics," and "they likely hold thousands of undiscovered and unknown life forms."

Söhnlein's company, Blue Marble Exploration, recently announced it would venture into Dean's Blue Hole, a site in the Bahamas about 660 feet from the surface.

Dean's Blue Hole Foto: EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

"Dean's Blue Hole is an enigma for geologists studying underwater caverns," Blue Marble Exploration's website says. "It is the largest of its kind in the world, and yet very little is known about it, including how it formed more than 15,000 years ago."

The company adds that it expects to find "human remains" of people who drowned in the blue hole "due to a variety of misfortunes."

It's unclear how many people died at the site. The most notable case occurred in 2013 when American freediver Nicholas Mevoli attempted to break a freediving record by reaching 72 meters in a single breath, The New York Times reported. Mevoli surfaced but died shortly after.

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