Antarctic hunt for Endurance wreck ends after expedition loses undersea drone in ‘evil conditions’


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An audacious try to search out explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been known as off after the expedition crew misplaced an undersea drone beneath Antarctic ice.

Endurance, which was misplaced in an ice floe off Antarctica greater than 100 years in the past, is without doubt one of the world’s most well-known undiscovered shipwrecks.

The Weddell Sea Expedition’s icebreaker, S.A. Agulhas II, broke by heavy pack ice to succeed in Endurance’s final recorded place Sunday and scientists started their seek for the wreck utilizing an undersea drone. Consultants had been initially hopeful that Endurance can be noticed by the robotic system, however have been pressured to name off their search.


“The climate closed in and the ocean ice circumstances deteriorated, resulting in the lack of AUV7, one of many state-of-the-art specialist submersible Autonomous Underwater Automobiles, which was being deployed to find the wreck,” defined the Weddell Sea Expedition, in an announcement. “Regardless of around the clock efforts to get better AUV7, and with the danger of the Expedition vessel, the South African polar analysis vessel, S.A Agulhas II, turning into trapped within the ice, the Expedition leaders determined to desert the present seek for Endurance.”

File photograph – The ‘Endurance’ amongst nice blocks of stress ice through the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton.
(Picture by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Analysis Institute, College of Cambridge/Getty Photos)

The Weddell Sea, the place Endurance was misplaced, is without doubt one of the harshest environments on the planet and the expedition to search out the wreck has generated worldwide curiosity.

AUV7 was working beneath an unlimited ice floe when it was misplaced, based on the Weddell Sea Expedition, and was on the ultimate leg of a mission that had lasted greater than 30 hours. There’s a risk that the drone captured photos of the Endurance on the seabed earlier than contact was misplaced, researchers say. With the drone misplaced beneath the ice, nevertheless, we’ll by no means know whether or not it noticed the well-known wreck or not.


“As a crew we’re clearly upset to not have been profitable in our mission to search out Endurance,” stated the Expedition’s Director of Exploration Mensun Sure, within the assertion. “Like Shackleton earlier than us, who described the graveyard of Endurance as ‘the worst portion of the worst sea on the planet’, our effectively laid plans had been overcome by the quickly transferring ice, and what Shackleton known as ‘the evil circumstances of The Weddell Sea’.”

File photo - One of the Weddell Sea Expedition AUVs.

File photograph – One of many Weddell Sea Expedition AUVs.
(Weddell Sea Expedition 2019)

“Everybody at Ocean Infinity is deeply upset that on the eleventh hour, we weren’t capable of produce the photographs of what’s no doubt essentially the most difficult shipwreck on the planet to find,” added Oliver Plunkett, CEO of undersea drone producer Ocean Infinity, within the assertion.

After Endurance was destroyed within the frozen wastes of the Weddell Sea her 28 crew members survived on ice floes for 5 months earlier than utilizing the ship’s lifeboats to succeed in Elephant Island close to Antarctica. From there, Shackleton and 5 companions traveled 800 miles in a lifeboat to the South Atlantic island of South Georgia, the place he organized the rescue of Endurance’s remaining crew from Elephant Island. The survival and rescue of the ship’s crew are considered an unimaginable feat of human endurance.


Endurance’s Captain, Frank Worsley, fastidiously recorded the ship’s ultimate coordinates earlier than she broke up and descended beneath the ice. The trendy expedition used these coordinates to plan its seek for the wreck.

File photo - Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance crushed in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea.

File photograph – Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance crushed within the pack ice of the Weddell Sea.
(Picture by PA Photos through Getty Photos)

Regardless of failing in its try to search out Endurance, the venture amassed a wealth of scientific data, based on stated Prof. Julian Dowdeswell, the expedition’s chief scientist and director of the Scott Polar Analysis Institute in Cambridge College. “By means of the scientific information gathered through the Expedition, now we have deepened our information and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a crucial position in our understanding of Antarctic ice cabinets and sea ice and, importantly, the modifications which are occurring right here at the moment,” he stated, within the assertion.

Ocean Infinity’s Plunkett famous that information collected by the Weddell Sea Expedition’s drones will show helpful in understanding the polar influence of local weather change.


File photo - Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, locked in the Weddell Sea, where it finally sank, Antarctica, August 27, 1915. The remarkable lighting was furnished by an oil fire at the bow and a great deal of flash (gun) powder.

File photograph – Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, locked within the Weddell Sea, the place it lastly sank, Antarctica, August 27, 1915. The exceptional lighting was furnished by an oil hearth on the bow and a substantial amount of flash (gun) powder.
(Picture by Underwood Archives/Getty Photos)

Previous to beginning its seek for Endurance, the Weddell Sea Expedition accomplished scientific analysis on the Larsen C ice shelf that made headlines in 2017 when a big iceberg dubbed A68 broke off the ice mass. The iceberg is the dimensions of Delaware.

Fox Information’ Christopher Carbone contributed to this text.  

Comply with James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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