Antarctica’s famous shipwreck, The Endurance, was recently found in the Weddell Sea. At a depth of 10,000 feet below the surface of the polar waters, the wreck is still in pristine condition.
The Endurance, guided by Captain Shackleton, sank back in 1915. Shackleton had planned to attempt the first crossing of the White Continent from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. With a crew of 28 aboard, it was looking successful. However, they became stranded in a dense pack of polar ice. All 28 shipmates plus Captain Shackleton had to abandon ship and camp out on ice floating through the sea. They eventually made it to inhabited Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton and five crewmates made their way to South Georgia, where they could initiate a rescue for the rest of the crew. Amazingly, not a single life was lost.
When abandoning the ship, Captain Frank Worsley very accurately recorded the vessel’s coordinates. These coordinates helped direct the exploration, Endurance22, to the lost ship.
This expedition, known as Endurance22, was record-breaking. It was the first to use Saab’s underwater search vehicles known as Sabertooths successfully. They were able to launch them from the coordinates recorded by Captain Worsley. The Sabertooths were able to locate the wreck and come back with high-definition pictures.
The wreck is in nearly pristine condition. Freezing temperatures have prevented any organisms that could cause significant deterioration from thriving on it. Endurance is not protected under the Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty to ensure that it will not be disturbed.
The wreck itself and the expedition that led to a successful recovery after over 100 years at the bottom of the sea demonstrates the drive of human curiosity and drive for exploration. Mensun Bound, the expedition director, hopes that this story will inspire young people to get out and explore.
“We hope our discovery will engage young people and inspire them with the pioneering spirit, courage, and fortitude of those who sailed Endurance to Antarctica”