Sci-Fi's 'Hunters' investigates ghostly Titanic exhibit

Sci-Fi's 'Hunters' investigates ghostly Titanic exhibit
April 14, 2009
Susan R. Pollack
The Detroit News

Visitors to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta -- the world's biggest "fish tank" -- can spend hours watching graceful beluga whales, a 9-foot-wide manta ray and the only whale sharks in captivity outside Asia.

And some who explore the aquarium's special "Titanic" exhibit might even get glimpses of ghosts. In fact, so many volunteers stationed in the shipwreck exhibit reported ghostly encounters last fall that aquarium officials called in professional ghost-busters to investigate.

"One of the volunteers in the iceberg room got tired and went to sit down and said that she all of a sudden felt a finger go through her hair," says Meghann Gibbons, spokesperson for the aquarium. "She brushed her head and nothing, then suddenly felt a hand come down on her head."

Lest you dismiss the haunted Titanic tales as a publicity stunt, consider what the professionals, Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations, turned up in the exhibit: purported recordings of ethereal voices and sightings of shadowy figures roaming dark corridors. It was enough to lure TV's "Ghost Hunters" team to the scene to conduct an investigation of its own.

The TV crew's findings, a closely guarded secret, will be shown for the first time on the Sci-Fi Channel at 9 and 11 p.m. Wednesday, the 97th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The show, which recaps the ship's fatal collision with an iceberg, is called "Titanic Terror."

In a recent interview with Channel Guide magazine, "Ghost Hunters" co-star Grant Wilson called the Georgia Aquarium investigation "one of the coolest cases" the show has tackled and said he had "just an interesting time there dealing with the Titanic artifacts," which include recovered clothing, shoes and dishes used by the more than 1,500 doomed passengers and crew. He noted that tales of paranormal activity follow the traveling Titanic exhibit wherever it goes.

Georgia Aquarium officials can barely contain their excitement about the TV show's visit to Atlanta. "I can't talk about it until it airs, but I can tell you it's going to be a good episode," Gibbons says.

For additional "evidence," she notes that sound-bites from the Roswell group's original investigation are posted on the aquarium Web site at

Dianna Avena, lead Roswell group investigator, called the Titanic exhibit a "dream investigation" rife with paranormal activity and ghost "hot spots." Her 12-person team divided up and used a combination of scientific equipment and the experiences of several psychic -- or spirit-sensitive -- members to detect the activity, she says.

"We had 'sensitives' on three separate teams who saw a woman in the first-class cabin area," Avena says. "A uniformed man, possibly a crew member, touched three separate investigators (in the personal effects room) ... and all of us definitely saw a shadow figure in the last two rooms."

A veteran of some 200 paranormal investigations, Avena says it's not surprising that spirits are so active in the aquarium because water is a major conduit of energy.

And the Georgia Aquarium has plenty of water: 6.3 million gallons, or about 30 percent more than the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

"It's my opinion that the (uniformed man) ghost really wants to interact and really wants to be heard," Avena says.
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