107 years ago, in 1915, the wooden explorer vessel Endurance was trapped between large ice floes in the Weddell Sea, off the coast of Antarctica, forcing its crew, including Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton, to abandon it. After the vessel was sunk by the ice, it was presumed destroyed, though Shackleton kept the coordinates. Thanks to those coordinates, the vessel has finally been uncovered at the bottom of the sea.
A team of researchers organized by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust began a voyage to uncover the remains of the Endurance in February, and this week, they made an incredible discovery: the Endurance’s remains were found almost exactly where Shackleton marked them down at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, and thanks to the intense cold of its waters, the vessel was almost perfectly preserved.
“The preservation is beyond imagination,” Mensun Bound, the director of exploration at the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust, told NBC News, excitedly adding that the vessel’s name could still be clearly read on its side.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, adding that he had “never ever seen a wreck as bold and beautiful as this.”
Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, has been found in the Antarctic 106 years after it was crushed in pack ice and sank during an expedition.
It was found 10,000 feet down in waters that are among the iciest on Earth. https://t.co/mJhzDgiWqQ pic.twitter.com/jaNrANibEv
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 9, 2022
“It is super cold. It’s probably just below zero,” explained British historian Dan Snow. Thanks to this below-freezing environment, there were “no wood-eating microbes and microorganisms” to erode the ship’s hull and instruments. Beyond some minor wear and tear caused by local wildlife moving in, the Endurance is virtually intact.
The remnants of the Endurance will become a protected spot under the Antarctic Treaty.