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Robert Ballard Oceanographer

Updated on November 13, 2016

Ocean Explorer and Treasure Hunter, Robert Ballard Hunts the Sea!

Probably best known by most people as the man who discovered the RMS Titanic. Ballard is a former commander in the United States Navy and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island (underwater archaeology). Born June 30, 1942 in Wichita, Kansas, he most recently discovered the wreck of John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in 2002.

Ballard grew up in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California to a mother of German heritage and a father of British heritage (Chet Ballard, fame chief engineer of North American Aviation's Minuteman missile program). Ballard graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning undergraduate degrees in chemistry and geology. Robert Ballard is credited to finding the JASON Project, a education program designed to excite and engage middle school students in science and technology.

Robert has been involved in so many programs and adventures. Go to Wikipedia and read more about his career.


$500,000 for On-line Training

WARWICK — Oceanographer Robert Ballard on Monday announced a $500,000 state grant to extend his on-line learning project to eight additional public schools.

He spoke before 700 students at Pilgrim High School.

Ballard began his talk with visual images of his own research, which include his discovery of the Titanic wreck on the North Atlantic seafloor as well as ongoing expeditions around the world aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus.

Continue the story:


Noah's Ark ?

11:53AM GMT 11 Dec 2012

In an interview with ABC News's Christiane Amanpour, Mr Ballard explains that he investigated a theory proposed by two scientists from Columbia University that there was a massive flood in the Black Sea region. They believe that the Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland until it was flooded by a torrent of water.

"We went in there to look for the flood," he told ABC News. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed ... The land that went under stayed under."

continue Noah's Ark

Wrecks Discovered


Ballard undertook an even more daunting task when he and his team went searching for the Bismarck in 1989. The water in which she sank is 4,000 feet deeper than where the Titanic sank. Ballard attempted to make clear whether the German battleship had been sunk by the British or was scuttled by her own crew. Three weeks after the expedition however, personal tragedy struck the famed explorer when his 21 year old son Todd who had aided his father in the search, was killed in a car accident.


In 1993 Ballard investigated the wreck of the RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast. The ship was struck by one torpedo, whose explosion was followed by a second, much larger one. The wreck has since been virtually obliterated by depth charges dropped by the Royal Navy, so it was difficult for Ballard to a do a forensic analysis. He determined the boilers were intact, and speculated the second explosion may have been caused by coal dust. Others have questioned this hypothesis. Ballard has not ruled out the possibility of cold seawater contacting superheated water in the ship's steam generation plant.

Battle of Guadalcanal

Ballard and his team have also visited the sites of many wrecks of World War II in the Pacific. His book Lost Ships of Guadalcanal locates and photographs many of the vessels sunk in the infamous Ironbottom Sound, the strait between Guadalcanal Island and the Floridas in the Solomon Islands.

USS Yorktown

On 19 May 1998 Ballard found the wreck of the Yorktown, sunk at the Battle of Midway. The wreck was found 3 miles (5 km) beneath the surface and was photographed.

wrecks continued

Ballard Updates

March 4, 2010

Last summer, two telepresence-enabled research vessels hit the high seas. No, we’re not talking Star Trek—the E/V Nautilus and Okeanos Explorer use satellite communications to bring scientists across the globe aboard, virtually, in 20 minutes flat. The system, designed by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard (who discovered the Titanic), allows the ships to roam year-round, 24/7, with the best pair of eyes at the helm. During initial trials the ships “made huge discoveries roughly every 11 hours,” says Ballard. “It was ridiculous.” Here’s how Ballard’s fleet works. Text by Peter Koch

1 – Ballard’s ship, the E/V Nautilus, maps the bottom of the Indian Ocean, near Oman with sidescan sonar, searching ancient trade routes for a shipwreck. It picks up an unnatural pattern on the seafloor, and the ship launches ROVs for a closer look. At 2,500 feet, their lights illuminate a wreck.

Continue dreamboats

The Man Who Found The Titanic part 1

Alvin Helps Unvail The RMS Titanic

On July 12, 1986, Ballard and his team returned on board Atlantis II [*] to make the first detailed study of the wreck. This time, Ballard brought Alvin, a deep diving submersible which could hold a small crew. Alvin was accompanied by Jason Junior, a small remotely operated vehicle which could fit through small openings to see into the ship's interior. While the first dive (taking over two hours to dive down) saw technical problems, subsequent dives were far more successful, and produced a detailed photographic record of the wreck's condition. *credit

Ballard and the Black Sea

"We pulled the plug and drained the Black Sea to what it was about 7,000 years ago-then put the plug back in."

Black Sea

The Great Explorer

Dream Big

"All kids dream a marvelous image of what they want to do. But then society tells them they can't do it. I didn't listen. I wanted to live my dream."

by Robert Ballard

Jason Project

The JASON Project was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard, the oceanographer and explorer who discovered the shipwreck of RMS Titanic.

JASON Project connects students with great explorers and great events to inspire and motivate them to learn science. If you know young people who is interesting in science, direct them to the Jason Project.

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I would like him to help find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In the Indian Ocean.

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @bushaex: You are so right. I thank you for taking time to look at some of my lenses. I have enjoyed many of yours.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      The oceans need all the help we can provide. It is no surprise that some of the most important contributions come from people going about life while doing the right thing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Robert Ballard is giving history back to us....a very nice tribute to him!

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @madoc: Oh yes, interesting creatures living in extreme conditions. Do they live in the ocean? I must say though, we live in a fascinating world. Thanks for the post.

    • madoc profile image


      6 years ago

      It is not all shipwrecks and treasure. I'd like to be part of the oceanographic search for extremeophiles, too!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice tribute to an amazing man. We live in Southampton, which is where The Titanic sailed from, so naturally we have an interest in anything to do with it.

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 

      8 years ago

      Robert Ballard is an interesting man, very dedicated to his work. We watched interviews about him, and he's passionate about the process of discovering shipwrecks and then examining the ships/area. Great lens!


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