More than a century after explorer Ernest Shackleton was forced to abandon his quest to cross Antarctica by land, explorers have found the wreckage of his ship, the Endurance.
The ship, found 10,000 feet below the surface in the Weddell Sea, “is virtually intact,” said Mensun Bound, director of exploration at the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.
“The preservation is beyond imagination,” Bound said, according to NBC.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, adding that in 30 years of finding wrecks, he had “never, ever seen a wreck as bold and beautiful as this. It just doesn’t get any better.”
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“You can even see the ship’s name – E N D U R A N C E – arced across its stern directly below the taffrail. And beneath, as bold as brass, is Polaris, the five-pointed star, after which the ship was originally named,” Bound said, according to the BBC.
“I tell you, you would have to be made of stone not to feel a bit squishy at the sight of that star and the name above,” he said.
“You can see a porthole that is Shackleton’s cabin. At that moment, you really do feel the breath of the great man upon the back of your neck,” he said.
Shackleton wanted to be the first to cross Antarctica by land. However, in 1915, the ship was trapped by dense pack ice that held it in its grip.
Amazing to see that Shackleton’s Endurance has been found.
Spectrum’s Tom Crean can be hired if you want the story of the Trans Antarctic Expedition and Scott’s earlier ill-fated expedition. pic.twitter.com/3dhRNrapve
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After being trapped for 10 months, the 28 men on board had to leave the ship, using lifeboats when not traveling on foot to escape.
Polar geographer Dr. John Shears called the discovery “jaw-dropping”.
“The discovery of the wreck is an incredible achievement,” he said
“We have successfully completed the world’s most difficult shipwreck search, battling constantly shifting sea-ice, blizzards and temperatures dropping down to -18 C. We have achieved what many people said was impossible,” he said.
Lost for more than a century, explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton’s 144-foot long ship, Endurance, has finally been discovered off the coast of Antarctica beneath the icy Weddell Sea. Explore more exclusive images: https://t.co/bJep1ePL1o pic.twitter.com/IMRJALfYVg
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) March 9, 2022
The ship’s masts have collapsed, but the hull is largely intact.
Undersea cameras filmed boots and other objects on the ship, which under terms of the Antarctic Treaty will be declared a Historic Site and Monument and left undisturbed, NBC reported.
Dan Snow, a British historian, said the cold contributed to the condition in which the ship was found.
“It is super cold. It’s probably just below zero,” he said, meaning “no wood-eating microbes and microorganisms” have attacked the wreck.