English institutions have begun efforts to develop a plan to monitor and protect the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance ship.
The sunken vessel found in the spring by participants of the Endurance22 expedition, which set out in early March from Cape Town. Now Historic England, together with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), are making efforts to properly care for this priceless historical heritage. According to researchers, there is a real fear that the well-preserved wreck of the Endurance will fall prey to treasure hunters.
Fortunately, the Endurance is located in a place that is not only difficult to reach when we talk about geographic location, but also when it comes to the accessibility of the wreck itself. Researchers participating in the Endurance22 expedition found the sunken ship at a depth of as much as 3008 kilometers. Organizing an expedition capable of going to the Weddell Sea and possibly plundering the wreck seems an extremely difficult task, to say the least.
This gives British institutions some time to work out the best solution to monitor and effectively protect the wreck. Resting at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, the Endurance is a remarkable and stunning time capsule. Underwater photographs and films have revealed a wooden hull that is almost untouched by time, although it has spent more than 100 years underwater.
Interestingly, in 2019, before the wreck was even located, it was declared a protected historical site and monument under the Antarctic Treaty System. As you can see, the British, who systematically searched for the wreck of the famous vessel, allowed themselves no other solution than to find it.
Although looting on such an inaccessible wreck seems unlikely, it is not hard to imagine. One need only recall past events when, for example, artifacts were illegally extracted from the even deeper Titanic. Therefore, the prudence of the British is understandable and will certainly receive due support.
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship was immobilized and trapped by masses of ice, then damaged under their pressure. The 28 expedition members, among them Shackleton himself, had to put up a desperate fight for their lives. In October 1915, having taken supplies from the ship, they set out on a trek on foot that would lead them back to civilization.
Meanwhile, the ice-damaged Endurance disappeared into the depths of the Weddell Sea. Over the years, a number of attempts were made to find the wreck of the famous vessel, but without success. It was not until March 2022 that the participants of the Endurance22 expedition announced to the world the discovery of the wreck.
Photo: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic
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