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Video: Who and why plans to send a search expedition to Antarctica in 2022
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Sir Ernest Shackleton's missing ship, the Endurance, has become a legend. One of the most famous ships in the world sank in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. This happened during the unfortunate expedition of the explorer in 1914-17 and marked the end of the "heroic era" of the exploration of the ice continent. Over the years, there have been many attempts to locate the crash site, but they were all unsuccessful. A fearless scientist named John Shears is set to take another one in early 2022. Why is he so confident that he will be able to find the legendary ship, the symbol of Antarctic exploration?
The Endurance sailed from Plymouth in August 1914. After numerous stops en route to the Weddell Sea, Shackleton and his 27-man crew entered a dangerous sea passage in January 1915. The ship fell into an ice trap. There he was locked up for a long 10 months. After that, the temporary human shelter was crushed by ice floes and sank. Shackleton and his crew had to move in lifeboats to Elephant Island.
People found themselves in a very difficult position. They had to face an acute shortage of food. As a result, even sled dogs were eaten. Later, the men managed to survive by hunting penguins and seals. Eventually, Shackleton and part of the crew, including Tom Crean and navigator Frank Worsley, went in search of help.
The brave team managed to cross the mountains and ice fields of the British Overseas Territory to the Stromness whaling station. The distance was only 30 kilometers, but it took a very long time to get there. After all, on the way I had to cross the mountains. At some point, they even turned the wrong way.
In the end, they managed to get to the whaling station. The people who remained in the makeshift camp on Elephant Island were saved. There were no casualties on the expedition, and all the crew members returned home.
Since then, the Endurance has attracted all the seekers of sunken ships. However, these searches were only for the most courageous and desperate explorers. The Weddell Sea is extremely treacherous. It is often difficult to pass even for modern icebreakers. So getting to the place has always been an almost impossible task.
The last search expedition was undertaken in 2019. It was not possible to reach the place due to the terrible weather conditions. Before leaving the area, the research team sent an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) into the depths of the Weddell Sea. Unfortunately, contact with him was lost within 20 hours after its launch.
The team, led by marine archaeologist Dr. John Shears and research director of the Mensun Bound, is attempting a second attempt. Funded by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust project. If approved by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it will leave Cape Town, South Africa at the end of February 2022.
The expedition, named "Endurance 22", will set sail on the research vessel SA Agulhas II, registered in South Africa. The crew will include scuba diving specialists from the US-UK company Ocean Infinity, who will use the Saab Sabertooth to locate the sunken ship underwater, as well as satellite data from the German space agency's TerraSAR-X platform.
“Trying to find the crash site of the Endurance, which has long been considered impossible and unattainable, is an incredibly exciting prospect,” Bound said in a press release. “Given the harsh Antarctic environment, there is no guarantee of success, but we continue to be inspired by the great Antarctic explorers and embark on the expedition with high hopes.”
The expedition will be streamed online
The Endurance has become a historical monument. According to the International Antarctic Treaty, this means that researchers cannot bring anything to the surface. Thus, Shears' plan is to plot his exact location on the map. In addition, photograph the ship without extracting any artifacts.
“The ship has become a real icon in the world of science,” said Dr. Shears. “Shackleton's epic survival story resonates through the ages. Of the many wrecks, this is the most famous yet to be discovered and also the most difficult to find. If we can identify it, we will check it and do a detailed 3D laser scan. And we hope to broadcast it all online.”
One of the biggest questions about a sunken ship is related to its condition. The waters of Antarctica are unique in that their depth and temperature guarantee the integrity of the vessel. Deposits there are relatively low, about 1 millimeter per year. This means that the Endurance is likely to be largely untouched by time and destruction.
According to Dr. Shears, the underwater flora and fauna, which can damage the sunken ship, is practically absent in the local icy water. “We know that the shellfish, which usually devour wooden wrecks, cannot survive in the cold sea waters here. But wood is a great source of carbon. So we may well find some very interesting things on the sunken Endurance. We may even find that we have new species,”says the scientist.
If you are interested in the topic of exploration of the icy continent, read our article. a new discovery under the ice of Antarctica helped to find out what this continent looked like 90 million years ago.
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