Robert has said that we are in the Lewis and Clark stage of oceanic exploration and compares viewing the ocean floor with walking on the moon. During his more than 20 years of exploration, he has seen more of the ocean floor than anyone alive.
For as long as he can remember, the sea has fascinated Bob. When he was a boy in Southern California, he collected seashells and driftwood that were washed up on the beaches; he also studied the sea creatures that lived in tidal pools. As a teenager, he took up scuba diving and began to explore the underwater world. His favorite book was Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He received his undergraduate degree in geology and chemistry from the University of California.
While doing postgraduate work in marine geology at the University of Hawaii, he worked as a trainer teaching dolphins to dive through hoops and perform other tricks at a nearby marine park. In 1967, he entered the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Deep Submergence Laboratory at Woods Hole, where he remained until 1997.
Bob has led or participated in more than 65 underwater expeditions, some of them involving the use of deep-diving submersibles. He made many of his dives in the Alvin – a small, three-person submarine. In 1973 and 1974, he explored the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a huge underwater mountain range in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This ridge is part of a larger undersea range that extends 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) around the globe.
In 1977, near the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, Bob and his crew discovered giant worms, some more than two and a half meters (eight feet) long, living inside white tubes and clustered around underwater hot springs. In 1979, he found black smokers off the coast of Baja, California. These underwater volcanoes erupt with hot fluids that shoot up from the sea floor through chimneys formed by mineral deposits.
As a result of the successful venture that led to JASON JR. and the discovery of the Titanic, Bob planned the JASON Project so that thousands of students could share the excitement of live exploration.
In 1989, he took approximately 200,000 students by telepresence to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, where they saw underwater volcanoes, artifacts and the remains of ancient trading vessels. In 1990, year two of the JASON Project, Bob, his crew and JASON explored the wrecks of the Hamilton and Scourge, armed schooners that sank in Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. In 1991, year three of the JASON Project, Bob, his crew, two ROVs and a team of biologists, herpetologists and geologists explored the Galapagos Islands above and below the water. JASON IV took students to the hydrothermal vents in the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez. Planet Earth was the focus of JASON V in 1994 when the health of our planet and the effect people have on it were explored in Belize, Central America. JASON VI focused on the Big Island of Hawaii. JASON VII took students and scientists to the Florida Keys to study coral reefs, sharks, shipwrecks and crocodiles. JASON VIII: Journey From the Center of the Earth was a comparative study of two unique places on our planet, Iceland and Yellowstone National Park.
Dr. Ballard has written many scientific articles and books about his explorations. He is the author of The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard, Robert Ballard’s Guadalcanal, Titanic: The Last Great Images, Archaeological Oceanography, Robert Ballard’s Lusitania, Robert Ballard’s Ttitanic, Exploring the Titanic, Return to Midway, and Graveyards of the Pacific. He has received many distinguished awards from universities, museums, scientific societies and explorers' clubs. He has also appeared in numerous television programs including three National Geographic specials.
- Human History Under Water
From perfectly preserved wooden ships lying on the bottom of the Black Sea, to historically significant ships like the Titanic and PT-109, explorer Robert Ballard's discoveries add to the knowledge of our past.
- The Personal Account of How the Titanic Was Found, and a Look into the Future
Dr. Ballard shares his incredible story of the significant discovery of the Titanic, the advanced technology he used for this world famous expedition, and what's ahead for the future in deep sea exploration.
- The Last Great Frontier
In this visually gripping presentation, explorer speaker Robert Ballard shares his passion for the last great uncharted territory. Working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ballard uses cutting-edge science and technology to explore the ocean's depths in order to better understand and preserve our waters for the generations that follow.