Are There Still Bodies in the Titanic Wreckage? Fascination and Questions Remain

Following news of a missing submarine, many want to know whether there are still bodies in the wreckage of the Titanic more than 100 years later.

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Jun. 20 2023, Updated 10:31 a.m. ET

People looking at a panorama presentation of the Titanic shipwreck by artist Yadegar Asisi on Jan. 27, 2017, in Germany.
Source: Getty Images

Following news that a submarine carrying a small number of people to look at the wreckage of the Titanic went missing, many are asking new questions about the famous ship and the state of the wreckage. Approximately 1,500 people died when the Titanic went into the water, taking more than half of its passengers with it.

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Although we know roughly how many people died, we know far less about what happened to the remains of many of those people. Some bodies were recovered in the aftermath of the disaster, but many more weren't. Are there still bodies in the Titanic?

Are there still bodies in the Titanic? Popular question without a solid answer.

The question of whether there are bodies left in the wreckage remains very much open for debate. It seems like a distinct possibility, but many who have actually spent time looking at the wreckage, including director James Cameron, say they haven't actually seen any human remains.

What we do know is that more than 1,000 people who died that day were never recovered, in part because many of the people who went down with the ship weren't wearing life jackets.

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'The New York Times' newspaper announcing the sinking of the Titanic.
Source: Getty Images

Most of the bodies recovered from the ocean had life jackets on them. Over the years, there has been plenty of speculation about what happened to the bodies that remained at the bottom of the sea. The bodies on the surface were spread out over a 50 mile radius due to a storm, and some think it's possible that same storm may have also scattered the bodies on the ocean floor.

Others think that there must be some remains still trapped inside the ship, even if they haven't been discovered yet.

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The exact status of those remains would likely depend on how exposed they were to the oxygenated water of the open ocean and to the many scavengers that may pick at their remains. If there are bodies in sealed off rooms inside the ship, they could still be in relatively preserved condition.

"I would not be surprised if highly preserved bodies were found in the engine room. That was deep inside the ship," one expert told The New York Times.

Some people think any bodies on the Titanic would have degraded long ago.

Although some think it's possible that there are preserved remains, others, including James Cameron, think that's unlikely.

We've seen clothing," he said. "We've seen shoes. We've seen pairs of shoes, which would strongly suggest there was a body there at one point. But we've never seen any human remains."

Of course, the question then becomes a bit didactic. A shoe may not be a body, but it certainly suggests that there were bodies down there at some point.

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So, while we may not have any evidence of bodies in the Titanic wreckage, it's still possible that there are some in the closed-off rooms around the ship. Until those rooms are opened, it will be impossible to know for sure. Regardless of where those unrecovered bodies wound up, what's clear is that the Titanic and its wreckage will continue to be a subject of fascination for years to come.

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