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Deep beneath Antarctic waters, a new expedition will search for Shackleton's Endurance.

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Friday, 9th July 2021


The ruins of Ernest Shackleton's long-lost ship, the Endurance, have been discovered beneath the dark and chilly waters of the Antarctic Ocean, according to a team of scientists. After the ship was crushed by ice, Shackleton and his crew abandoned it in 1915. The Endurance is currently lost at sea, possibly in the Weddell Sea, a wide bay in western Antarctica. Its exact position is uncertain, but a new expedition has been formed to track it down.

The Endurance22 mission, which is set to launch in February 2022, will cross the perilous southern waters, bashing through miles of pack ice in search of spots for cutting-edge submarines to examine the ocean floor.

If the expedition scientists discover the missing ship, they intend to investigate and film the wreckage. They will not, however, take any relics because the vessel is protected by the Antarctic Treaty. Due to bad weather and a missing submarine, the team's attempt to find the Endurance in 2019 was cancelled. The squad is even more determined this time to locate the famed ship's wreckage.

In a statement, Mensun Bound, Endurance22's director of exploration, said, "Attempting to discover the wreck of Endurance, something long deemed unattainable and out of reach, is a tremendously thrilling idea."

"There are no promises of success given the hardness of the Antarctic environment, but we remain motivated by the great Antarctic explorers and go on Endurance22 with high aspirations. We hope and pray that, with the best technology and a world-class exploration crew, we will be able to reach a watershed event in polar history."

Perhaps the most iconic narrative from the "heroic period" of polar exploration is Shackleton's titanic attempt to cross the South Pole.

The Endurance set out from South Georgia and spent weeks navigating through pack ice before becoming stuck close off the Caird Coast. After the Endurance was crushed and sunk, the men floated for more than a year, first aboard the ship and then on top of the ice floe itself. As time passed, they had to resort to shooting and eating their expedition dogs in order to stay alive.

After making landfall at Elephant Island using complete lifeboats salvaged from the catastrophe, the starving explorers turned their attention to penguins and seals. Shackleton was able to catch a lift on a whaling ship back to South Georgia Island in search of a rescue ship from this desolate rock. His entire crew of 28 people was successfully rescued.

The Endurance is currently submerged beneath approximately 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) of black water, with its timbers presumably well maintained due to the lack of light and low oxygen levels. It sank in a well-known area, which was logged at the time by ship's skipper Frank Worsley. Bulldozing through miles of thick ice in the Weddell Sea will be the main challenge for the Endurance22 team.

Despite the fact that climate change would make breaking through the ice floe easier than it was in Shackleton's day, getting to the spot where his ship sank will still be difficult. The scientists plan to arrive by ramming their ship, the South African SA Agulhas II, into the ice with icebreakers.

Once the researchers are close enough to the wreck, they will descend a Saab Sabertooth autonomous submarine into the frigid water and manoeuvre it to the wreck using satellite radar imaging. Because the oxygen levels at the wreck site are sufficient to support life, the team believes that a diverse and unusual ecosystem may have developed around the sea-changed Endurance. According to the researchers, there's a chance they'll discover new species.

The finding of the wreck, according to Donald Lamont, chairman of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, which is financing the expedition, could have ramifications for future explorers. "We hope that by telling this tale to new generations, they will be inspired to explore, overcome whatever obstacles they may face, and learn more about the Antarctic ecosystem and how essential it is even to those of us who live thousands of kilometres north," Lamont added.

 

The News Talkie Bureau

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