Endurance on Ice
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Marine researchers and technicians recently discovered the wreck of the “Endurance,” which had sunk to the bottom of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea more than 100 years ago, the New York Times reported.
For more than two weeks, explorers scanned about 150 square miles of deep, freezing waters using battery-powered submersibles, sonars and high-resolution cameras.
They reported that the ship was “in a brilliant state of preservation,” despite being submerged underwater for more than a century. The team explained that the cold waters and the lack of wood-eating marine organisms prevented the 144-foot “Endurance” from disintegrating.
The “Endurance” was considered one of the most famous undiscovered shipwrecks and the hunt for the wreck cost more than $10 million.
Under the terms of the decades-old Antarctic Treaty, the wreck is considered a historical monument and will be used as the basis for educational materials, as well as museum exhibits.
“We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search,” said John Shears, the leader of the Endurance22 search expedition.
The historic vessel was part of British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated attempt to cross the icy continent in the early 20th century, near the end of a period remembered as the “heroic age of Antarctic exploration.”
In 1914, Shackleton and a crew of 27 people left England en route to the Weddell Sea but the ship never made it to the pole. Instead, the “Endurance” became stuck in Weddell’s icy waters and drifted for more than 10 months as the ice slowly crushed it.
Despite the setback, Shackleton and his crew survived the arduous voyage and were memorialized as heroes in Britain.