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In Pictures: Shackleton’s ship Endurance found over a century after it sank

Published: 09th March, 2022 at 15:40
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Incredible discovery made by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic.

Over a hundred years after it sank, explorer Ernest Shackleton's ship the Endurance has been located and imaged by a specialist team of researchers.

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The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust confirmed that the Endurance22 Expedition has located the wreck of the ship, which has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean in 1915. 

Endurance was found at a depth of 3,008m in the Weddell Sea, approximately 6km south of the position originally recorded by Captain Worsley, who served as the captain of Endurance on its last voyage. 

The Endurance22 team were aided by the South African polar research and logistics vessel, SA Agulhas II, owned by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and under Master, Capt. Knowledge Bengu. The team used Saab’s Sabertooth hybrid underwater search vehicles to explore and document the wreck.

Shackleton's original mission was to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica, from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. However, the mission ran into problems due to poor weather, and the ship never made it to dry land and the 28-strong crew were eventually forced to abandon ship. After a gruelling rescue mission, all members of the crew were rescued, but the ship was not seen again, until now.

The wreck is protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, ensuring that whilst the remains are being surveyed and filmed, they will not be touched or disturbed in any way.

The story will be featured in a special National Geographic documentary, due to air this autumn. It will also be available to stream on Disney+.

The taffrail (the handrail around the stern) and wheel of the Endurance. Photo by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic
The starboard bow is shown in this image of the Endurance. Photo by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic
Endurance stern and emblematic polestar
The stern showing the name and the polestar symbol of the Endurance is shown in this incredible still from the underwater film. Photo by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic
The 'Endurance' caught in the ice in the Weddell Sea of the Antarctic during Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, circa 1915. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Menson Bound, director of exploration of Endurance22 expedition (L) and John Shears, expedition leader (R) pose on the sea ice of Weddell Sea, Antarctic, 20 February 2022. In the background is the expedition vessel SA Agulhas II. Photo by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
Grant Brokensha from While Desert (L), JC Caillens, off-shore Manager, Frédéric Bassemayousse and Wayne Auton (R) from White Desert Team recover the AUV after a dive in the Weddell sea, in search of Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship the Endurance. Photographed on the 3 March 2022. Photo by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
A video and laser pictures of Endurance22 displayed in the control room of the AUV on board of SA Agulhas II, 7 March 2022. Photo by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
'Endurance Found!' declares the Endurance22 stationary set, photographed on board the SA Agulhas II. Photo by Esther Horvath
(L to R) John Shears, expedition Leader, Mensun Bound, director of exploration, Nico Vincent, expedition Sub-Sea Manager, JC Caillens, off-shore manager with the first scan of the wreck and photos from the original expedition by Frank Hurley, photographed on 5 March 2022. Photo by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust
The Endurance22 expedition spends its last morning on board of SA Agulhas II, before leaving the Weddell Sea, Antarctic, 8 March 2022. Photo by Esther Horvath/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

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Authors

James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs

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