The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution released 80 minutes of rare footage from the first expedition to the Titanic wreckage in 1986.

A team from the oceanographic group discovered the wreckage on September 1, 1985, working in partnership with the French oceanographic group IFEMER. 

Led by Dr. Robert Ballard, the team discovered the Titanic's final resting place and returned to the site of the wreckage nine months later in July 1986, this time using a three-person research submersible and a remotely operated vehicle. It marked the first time humans laid eyes on the iconic ship since it sank in 1912. 

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) recorded footage of the sunken ship during 11 different dives in July 1986. 

The WHOI released 80 minutes of rare footage from the 1986 expedition to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the release of the blockbuster film "Titanic" on February 10, 2023. 

Among other things, the footage shows images of the bow and railings on one of the ship's decks.

James Cameron, who directed the smash hit 1998 film, said the WHOI is helping to tell an important part of the Titanic's story by releasing the rare footage. 

"More than a century after the loss of Titanic, the human stories embodied in the great ship continue to resonate," Cameron said in a statement. 

"By releasing this footage, WHOI is helping tell an important part of a story that spans generations and circles the globe." 

Ballard told Sky News that the first thing he saw when he discovered the Titanic was a "giant wall of riveted steel that rose over 100 and some feet above us. 

"I never looked down at the Titanic. I looked up at the Titanic. Nothing was small," Ballard added.

Ballard told Sky News that it was "pretty haunting" to look through the ship's portholes, adding that it was "like people looking back at us". 

More than 1,500 people died when the Titanic sank en route to New York on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Belfast-built ship - the largest in the world at the time - made its last port of call at Cobh in Co Cork