Rare, unseen video of Titanic wreckage to be released

Rare and in some cases never before publicly seen video of the 1986 dive through the wreckage of the Titanic is being released Wednesday by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The more than 80 minutes of footage on the WHOI's YouTube channel chronicles some of the remarkable achievements of the dive led by Robert Ballard that marked the first time human eyes had seen the giant ocean liner since it struck an iceberg and sank in the frigid North Atlantic in April 1912. About 1,500 people died during the ship's maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City.

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The White Star Line passenger liner R.M.S. Titanic embarking on its ill-fated maiden voyage. via Getty Images

A team from Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in partnership with the French oceanographic exploration organization Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer, discovered the final resting place of the ship in 12,400 feet (3,780 meters) of water on Sept. 1, 1985 using a towed underwater camera.

Nine months later, a WHOI team returned to the site in the famous three-person research submersible Alvin and the remotely-operated underwater exploration vehicle Jason Jr., which took iconic images of the ship’s interior.

The release of the footage is in conjunction with the 25th anniversary release on Feb. 10 of the remastered version of the Academy Award-winning movie, "Titanic."

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"More than a century after the loss of Titanic, the human stories embodied in the great ship continue to resonate," ocean explorer and filmmaker James Cameron said in a statement. "Like many, I was transfixed when Alvin and Jason Jr. ventured down to and inside the wreck. By releasing this footage, WHOI is helping tell an important part of a story that spans generations and circles the globe."