Dr. Robert Ballard Enthralls Corpus Christi Audience with Details of His Deep Sea Discoveries, Ancient Shipwrecks

Published: March 27, 2013

Dr. Robert Ballard Enthralls Corpus Christi Audience with Details of His Deep Sea Discoveries, Ancient Shipwrecks

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Dr. Robert Ballard enthralled the Performing Arts Center audience with his discoveries of the Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and sunken ancient shipwrecks during the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Spring 2013 Distinguished Speaker Series on Tuesday, March 26.

A crowd of more than 1,000 listened to the oceanographer and deep sea explorer as he also discussed how his missions over the next two years, including one to Galveston, Texas, will help provide educational outreach to students across the nation. Ballard has logged more hours in the deep than any other marine scientist in the world.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community,” said Harriet Nash, a Graduate Research Assistant with the Harte Research Institute. “To hear what Dr. Ballard has achieved throughout his career is a huge motivation for University students who are passionate about researching our oceans.  I was most excited to hear about his ideas on continued exploration and seafloor mapping, as well as colonizing the ocean.”

Ballard, who has led or participated in more than 130 deep-sea expeditions, is interested in ancient lost history beneath the sea including his discovery of the largest concentration of ancient Roman ships ever found in the deep sea. His latest endeavor entails working with engineers to improve technology on floating instrument platforms that he believes will enable colonization of the oceans.

Beginning in the early 1970’s, Ballard undertook a series of increasingly daring expeditions to places on the ocean bottom that had never been seen by human eyes. These expeditions included the first manned exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, the discovery of warm water springs and their exotic animal communities in the Galapagos Rift, and the first discovery of high temperature “black smokers” and important mineral deposits. These findings helped to understand the early origins of life on our planet and the possibility of finding life elsewhere within our solar system.

Earlier in the day, Ballard addressed a select group of more than 500 high school and college students during a Student Forum which precedes each Distinguished Speaker Series event. 

University student David Franklin, who hopes to one day work aboard a research vessel, seized the opportunity to attend the free forum.

“I was very interested in his topic,” said Franklin, an Environmental Science graduate student. “Studying the deep sea is one of my main focuses.” 

Lauren Hutchison, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science, enjoyed both the forum and the evening presentation because of her interest in exploring and studying the deep ocean.

“I like to utilize knowledge from people who have been very successful in their field and learn from them,” said Hutchison. “I found him to be very personable by the way he interacted with the crowd. It was like he was talking to you one-on-one.” 

The Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Distinguished Speaker Series brings accomplished national and international speakers to campus to provide insight, provoke thought, and stimulate conversation about the country’s most compelling issues.

At the close of the program, upcoming Distinguished Speakers were announced for the fall and next spring. Comedian, Actress, and TV Personality Sherri Shepherd will discuss her recent diabetes diagnosis on Friday, Oct. 4. And, Astrophysicist and Science Communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson will give a presentation on Thursday, March 27, 2014. 

All net proceeds from the Distinguished Speaker Series go toward scholarships for students attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Sign up to find out about our speakers at http://www.tamucc.edu/distinguishedspeakerseries/