Endurance, the famous ship associated with explorer Ernest Shackleton’s failed 1915 Antarctic expedition has been found by researchers in a remarkable state of preservation at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, off Antarctica’s coast.
Mensun Bound, the director of the exploration, declared that “this is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen.” The amazing condition of the wreck – the ship’s name may still be clearly read in gold-leaf letters across the stern – is attributed to the lack of marine organisms present in the icy depths, which under more typical conditions would have gnawed the wooden ship into oblivion within a century.
Ernest Shackleton was the leader of a British expedition which was attempting to become the first to traverse the continent of Antarctica via the South Pole. (The south pole itself had first been reach just a few years before by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team.) Shackleton’s expedition never reached the Antarctic mainland, however. Endurance, which had been specially-built to break through ice up to 3 feet thick, became unexpectedly surrounded and trapped in heavy sea ice. The ship was eventually crushed by the ice months later and sank. The crew meanwhile, endured a year-and-a-half series of grueling ordeals, including an 800-mile journey in a small boat by Shackleton to the nearest inhabited outpost, before finally being rescued.
By a noteworthy coincidence, the wreck was discovered 100 years to the day after Shackleton was buried in 1922, after suffering a heart attack during another Antarctic expedition.
The ship, which is protected by treaty as a historic monument, was not disturbed by the researchers who filmed and photographed the wreck. The team hopes to create a detailed 3-D model for display in both traveling exhibits and a permanent museum exhibit.
Source: Associated Press