If you're like most kids, you've probably become fascinated at one time or another with the story of the Titanic. Whether you've learned about this famous sunken ship in history class or by watching the popular movie of the same name, it's an incredible story that has made the Titanic the most famous sunken ship of all time.
Sunken ships are more commonly known as shipwrecks. The word “shipwreck" accurately describes what's left of a ship that has sunk. There are many reasons why ships wreck. In the case of the Titanic, an iceberg breached its hull and the ship took on water that caused it to sink.
Other ships might wreck because of tropical storms, such as hurricanes. In times of war, ships may be wrecked by torpedoes and other weapons launched by enemy ships and airplanes. Of course, these are only a few of the hundreds of ways that a ship might end up wrecked at the bottom of the sea.
Sometimes shipwrecks are huge, like the Titanic or military battleships. Other shipwrecks may be small, such as small fishing boats. Over the course of history, the oceans of the world have claimed the lives of many ships. How many? The United Nations estimates that there are over 3 million shipwrecks at the bottom of the world's oceans!
Hunting for shipwrecks is an attractive hobby to all sorts of different people. Maritime archeologists, for example, might search for historic shipwrecks with the hope of learning more about the past. Just think about what you might be able to learn from the wreck of a 16th-century ship used for exploration.
Treasure hunters, on the other hand, might look for shipwrecks with the hope of finding money, jewels or other valuable items. Pirate ships, for example, might have chests full of gold just waiting to be found!
Would you believe that some ships today are sunk on purpose? Why would someone do such a thing? As it turns out, it can be good for the environment! In certain areas around the world, ships are sunk on purpose to create artificial reefs that can become a habitat for a wide variety of marine life. They also make really cool places to scuba dive!
If you find a sunken ship, can you raise it back to the surface? That's a difficult question to answer, because it depends upon many factors. What condition is the ship in? After being underwater for many years, most ships are too weak to be raised back to the surface without being completely destroyed in the process.
More recent shipwrecks, however, might be able to be raised. Doing so can take lots of money and advanced technology. Most shipwrecks are simply left where they are unless they pose a danger to the environment.