Human Journey

Your Questions for Ocean Explorer Bob Ballard

From his unforgettable discovery of the wreck of Titanic to the possibly less-remembered effort to bring the Loch Ness Monster to light, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Robert Ballard has been at the cutting edge of underwater exploration for decades. On the evening of December 14, he’ll be participating with Boyd Matson and Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr. John Mather in an NG Live! event called “Exploring the Edge of Existence.” But before he does, he’ll join NG fans around the world for a live video chat on the Nat Geo Facebook page.


What Lies Beneath

His discovery of the deep-sea “black smokers” and their surrounding colonies of animals that live at scorching temperatures in toxic chemicals, removed from any vestige of sunlight revolutionized our understanding of the conditions where life can survive and even thrive, on Earth and elsewhere.

Through the distance-learning JASON Project, Ballard brings the latest technology and discoveries from the field into classrooms around the world, reaching more than 1.7 million students and 38,000 teachers annually.

His current project, which you can follow at uses remote vehicles and teams of linked-up experts around the world to explore the unknown reaches of the ocean floor, in a 24-7 search for not-even-he-knows-what. As Ballard likes to point out, we literally know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the bottom of the sea.


You Be the Explorer

Now you get to be the explorer and discover what stories and thoughts still lie beneath those trademark baseball caps of his. Join Ballard and fans from every corner of the globe in a live video chat on the National Geographic Facebook page, Wednesday Dec. 14, at 3:30pm EST (8:30pm UT).





Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.
  • abdellawi alaa

    can we consider the medusa as immortal? the genetic information still the same, just the pahses change.

  • Thais Rubiano

    When leading an expedition/research, you are certainly guiding a group of very talented people. I imagine that in the ocean you live lots of stressful situations. Could you comment on how you deal with the group you travel with and keep them up stimulated to the ventures? It would be also intersting to hear about a situation in the current project since you are coordinating different groups?

  • Reddy C. Balarbar

    How much were you paid for the movie Titanic?

  • Ciing, Davin

    I pledge a dollar toward your fisrt space flight… god-speed

  • @BugZer0

    Would you be interested in Exploring the OCEAN from Low-Eath-Orbit?


  • Dino Haro

    I would like to learn more about you and current or future expeditions by Volunteering my time aboard the ship. I served in the Marine Corps and spent 2 years of my tour on sea duty aboard the battleship Missouri BB-63 providing security for the weapons systems we had aboard at that time.It would be an awesome opportunity to see first hand what you do and how you do it. I love being out to sea. All I need is an invite! I truly hope to hear back from you on this . Thank you. Semper Fi.

  • Byron McLaughlin

    In your exploration of the Black Sea has there been any plans to map the ancient shore line in an attempt to locate human settlements and possible trade routes leading out from them? In your discovery of the near intact wooden ship I noticed that there was minimal silt build up around the ship. Is silt a problem for locating older artifacts dating back to the flood? Do you have plans for exploration of the area of the Persian Gulf at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates delta? I think it is basically unexplored and has high probability of early settlements when sea levels were lower.

  • Dave waterman

    With the impending inevitable collapse of the titanic due to its deterioration is this based equally for the stern and bow or individually? As the bow is in better condition, triangular shape and buried deep enough that its structurally supported, is this impending collapse based on just the stern and that the bow has many more years left Before suffering the same fate?

  • Assia

    Hello! I would like to ask you about the main diffrences that you noticed through you experiences between life under water and life on land, and if you will have to choose between the two what will be your choise and why? Have you passed by a very hard time? If yes tell us about . Thanks

  • Richard Gore

    Hello Dr Ballard,

    Thankyou for your work.
    I would like to ask, based on your experience, what you believe to be the greatest pressing issue regarding conservation of the worlds oceans and how mankind can help reduce it’s impact and/or help to improve the health of our oceans?

    ps – do you have any English ancestry? my great granfather was a despatch carrier to Scapa Flow during world war one and his name was Captain Joseph Ballard.



  • muhit

    Hi Bob
    Is sea level rising beyond our limit ?

  • Katrien Forier

    Dear Mr. Ballard,
    A question I always had is the following: You have a degree in marine geology but are obviously passionate about finding shipwrecks, documenting the scene and about the history surrounding them. Where does this interest in shipwrecks come from? In your work, I suspect you combined the interest you have in history with the tools a marine geologist has at his disposal?

  • Katrien Forier

    Dear Mr Ballard,
    A question I always had is the following: You’re a marine geologist but you seem passionate about finding historic shipwrecks, exploring the site and the history surrounding these ships. Is it a passion you always had or did something trigger it? It seems to me that you combined your passion with the tools a marine geologist has at his disposal?
    Kind regards,

  • Arnar Egilsson

    Hello sir
    I’ve watched all your episodes on NGC. I have not only inspired by those but gain a great knowledge. Your work and visions are rare and rewarding. I’ve read one book that you wrote, Archaeological Oceangraphy, which I liked. Although I am not an archaeologist myself, but I´m a professional diver and work sometime with archaeologists to study/search for wrecks and other man made underwater objects. However, our searches we conduct are in very shallow waters.

    I just wanted to thank you and hope you will make more documentarys to give me and others like me inspiration and enjoyment. P.s. to bad that I could not meet you last summer when you were here in Iceland. Maybe you will come again and give me a heads up !!.. 🙂 Stay safe and thank you.

  • Jennifer coffey

    Dr. Ballard, I believe you embody the American spirit and you r the quintessential explorer. I was wondering how someone gets the opprutunity to meet u and how someone gets the chance to go on an expedition with you. I have followed your work since 1985 & I have been in awe at your discoveries. I thank u so very much for your time & attention. I look forward to your next great adventure.!!!!

  • Mark Alfredson

    i would love to join you on an expedition

  • Martin Malley

    Bob – What caused the sinking of USS Scorpion?

  • Pradeep Chatterjee

    Expect the wreak of RMS Titanic which else famous wreak you have found lying in the ocean bed.

  • McKenna T

    Hello Mr. Ballard,
    I’m a National Geographic Young Explorer after traveling on an expedition with Boyd Matson and others to Peru in 2009, and I met you June of this year in Washington D.C. for the annual Nat Geo symposium. Since then you’ve been one of my role models on my journey towards becoming a future traveler and adventurer.

    I would love to learn more about what initially sparked your desire to explore the earth’s wonders, what steps you took during your years in high school and college to accomplish your goals and get you to where you are now, and what advice you might have for youth following in your footsteps? Could you share your childhood story and any tips?

    Thank you!
    McKenna – Future Nat Geo Explorer

  • Michael V. Caldwell

    It WILL Take Someone With Your Clout To Launch This Idea ! !

    This morning while watching the news about the oil spill life damage and the message about lifting the oil drilling band I thought of a New Idea that you may want to consider, what if you make a mandatory oil drilling law that requires ALL Oil Drilling Companies to Re-Grow Ocean Life and Re-Populate Fish Life.

    Similar to what the Requirements are when Loggers Cut Our Forest Down, the Only difference would be this could be done in our Oceans ! ! !

    Here is one idea of how this could work; Current example Make BP grow new Kelp beds and new fish life & more; in a designated controlled area in the ocean or on land. I did send a similar idea to the environment department that they liked and posted on their site I will pull that up and copy and paste it to this email, I thought of that idea before the BP Oil Spill, but now more than ever we need to implement something like this on our Planet to replace the loss of oxygen that we lost and are going to loose from all of our pollution we are creating on our planet.

    Tue, Jan 5, 2010 Michael V. Caldwell Coarsegold CA
    THINKING OUT OF THE BOX FOR AMERICA & THE WORLD ! ! After doing a lot of research on global soil, air and water contamination and reading James Lovelock’s ideas. I believe that I MAY have some very viable solutions to offer in regards to Global Warming that may help the world slow it down and possibly stop further damage, but we will have to act now and it will take Global Team Work to incorporate my ideas immediately to help us. This is my idea and I am going to try and contact James Lovelock to confirm how viable my idea is. I am submitting my idea now even if it needs work because we need to work on this problem 24 hrs a day. 1. start up above ground plankton farms around the globe to grow plankton globally, reason; (plankton is a natural oxygen plant that contains the most oxygen in the world) we can start to incorporate our plankton farms using our current fish hatcheries immediately, fish will love it and it is a win win bigger healthier fish as
    well ! ! 2. EPA challenge to clean up our contaminated soil and grow more food & produce more clean air… a done deal ! ! All we need to do is the following; (my idea will need to be verified by scientist) Mix, Plankton, Ilmenite soil, Peridotite soil and proper fertilizers into our contaminated land, this should clean up the soil and produce the best farming soil as well as adding clean air to our environment in every way and as a bonus Boost the economy by adding more jobs. Why this would work ?? Common sense, the more above Plankton farms the more clean oxygen to the atmosphere. The more green plants we grow including trees the more we can slow down Global Warming, just using common sense. Thank You, Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell

    Another Idea that I STRONGLY FEEL Needs To Be Done Immediately And If We Use Team Work And Get All Of The Boats and Ships In The Spill Area To start This Procedure Immediately IT WILL MAKE A BIG BIG DIFFERENCE IN OUR OCEAN OXYGEN LEVELS IN THIS AREA ! ! ! ( I have designed and used THESE SIMPLE PVC Plastic Pipes That Have small Holes Drilled In Them and they WORK AWSOME, CHEAPLY & EFFECTIVELY ! !)

    We could make hundreds of these fast and cheaply and all that is needed is an air compressor hooked up to a hose that can be dropped down into the ocean that is hooked on Aerator Plastic capped off at one end PVC Plastic Plumbing Pipe that has several holes drilled in it that make up Aerator Tubes that can be weighted down to hold them in place where needed. ( Imagine How Much Oxygen That We Can Place Back Into Our Oceans If We Do This Just Using The Resources That We Already Have In Place, Our Fishing Fleets & Ships That Are Already In Place )

    Please Pass This On To Whoever Is In Charge And WILL TAKE THIS PROVEN IDEA THAT I KNOW WORKS BECAUSE I HAVE BUILT AND USED THESE UNITS ! ! ( I know that the the above idea is A DROP IN THE BUCKET IDEA OF AERATING THE GIGANTIC OCEAN, but we have to start somewhere and if enough Man Made Oxygen was added to the Ocean it would help and most certainly wouldn’t hurt…Every Rain Storm Starts With A Drop Of Water)

    Thank You, Respectfully, Michael V. Caldwell, Proud American Inventor..Who Is Always Striving To Be Part Of The Solution Using AMERI-CAN-DO Attitude As My Guideline To Follow At All Times.

  • Audrey Diffley

    Dr. Ballard,

    I have followed your work for years and admire your professionalism. Have you ever wished that you or
    your expedition had claimed salvage rights to
    Titanic after your discovery ? Considering the
    exploitation of the wreck in later years, I
    feel that such an action would have preserved
    the site. Thank you for your achievements and
    the great adventures !

    initial voyage

  • David Quinlan

    My father was on board the USS Curtiss at Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy Dec 7th 1941. They had just returned from bringing civilians out to Wake Island to build an airstrip for the Marines some 1900 miles east of Pearl. That Friday they returned to Pearl and refilled with 187,000 gallons of aviation fuel. While it was really great to have the wreck of the sub discovered which was fired upon and struck by the USS Ward. The report of “Secrets of Pearl Harbor” didn’t go far enough. My father was at his battle stsation on the bow of the USS CURTISS on number one five inch gun when the second sub surfaced perpendicular to his ship. That Imperial Japanese two man sub was hit initially by the USS Curtiss which also put a five inch shell through the subs conning tower which investigators for the Navy said probably facilitated it firing and missing the USS CURTISS bow by less than fifteen feet! Photos show the sub after the ramming and depth charges by the USS Monaghan with a neat hole through it conning tower. My father said the fuse for the projectile never exploded but rather went straight through the conning tower. Gun placement number four was able to fire its five inch gun at it. The sub also suffered from fifty caliber machine gun fire from the USS CURTISS. They lost 29 men during the attack yet downed three planes and helped take out that submarine which was never fully explained by the historian.
    David Quinlan

  • ed bleakney hl=en&ll=27.169444,-79.143233&spn=0.025772,0.033088&t=h&z=15
    found this while looking at satilite pictures of grand banks
    this maybe be possible shuttle remains under water /found it 3 days ago while looking sunken treasure ship off Grand Bahamas outer reef area /look like shuttle nose and main body and main engines under water, 100miles east of Jupiter Florida on /50 miles northwest of Grand bahamas it looks much bigger in this satilite phote than it should be or scale on google maps is wrong.
    its missing wings,main hanger doors and upper rear tail section from view in this picture.
    two other darker item look like engine or maybe what was in cargo by near by,

    Also there is a impact crater of object to south east look for darker spot in sand with 5 rings around it,may not be related to it but there to close to rule that out

    My heart goes out to family member if that is what is underwater there

    Thank you ed bleakney
    PS i want credit for finding this if its the shuttle,its in there right area if it is the shuttle /taking upper level winds into crash zone on that day, i just found this by accident looking for other ship wrecks

    please resond proptly

    thanks Ed Bleakney 197green manor road Enfield Ct

  • Mr. Richard Stoico

    I am doing a Study om a missing Ship that was sunk on 3/1/17 The American Ship AZTEC CARGO that was sunk off the coast of FRANCE (USHANT) LOCATION 48.20N 0600W. That had a cargo worth about $500.000 at trhe time it isnt much by todays standards it only hah a cargo of copper, steel,lumber,machinery & chemicals. My question is was it ever found and did it ever have anything different done to it, such as any military armerment on it. This information would be very helpful. THANKS VERY MUCH

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