What Should We Do About The Titanic?

Visiting damages the landmark, but so does leaving it there.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Dive the Titanic
The RMS Titanic of the White Star line, sinking around 2:20 a.m. Monday, April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

The Titanic shipwreck is an international landmark, every bit as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. People have even taken submarines to get married in front of it. Atlas Obscura writes that the wreck of the famous ship is a landmark tourist attraction, available for anyone to come look at for $36,000.

The tourists present a conundrum: Who does the wreck belong to, what is the “right” thing to do, and what is the point of a landmark that not that many people can visit?

People have been questioning these things for decades, probably even more since the nonprofit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution discovered the Titanic in 1985. People visiting the site can cause immense damage, such as when Connecticut-based Titanic Ventures Inc. coupled with the French oceanographic agency IFREMER pulled loot from the ship in 1987 and the crow’s nest collapsed altogether. But leaving it where it is means leaving it to the wrath of nature, which has been steadily dismantling the cruiser.

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