The ice breaking find in 2022

Wow, the remains of Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” located in the Weddell Sea in March 2022, was a fantastic find after being ‘lost’ for more than a century.

This successful attempt in 2022 found the wreck, located 6km from the position recorded by Worsley, and at a depth of 3,008 metres. The three-masted sailing ship was lost in November 1915 when it was crushed by Antarctic ice and sank to the ocean floor during Shackleton’s failed attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. Submersible video, shot by Endurance22 using advanced underwater vehicles called Sabertooths showed the ship to be in remarkably good condition, with timbers very well preserved, due to the lack of wood consuming microbes. Even more remarkable is that the expedition was a few days away from having to be abandoned, as the ice was closing in and the blizzards and storms had started.

The video of this remarkable discovery can be viewed on Youtube, courtesy and copyright of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust .

Shackleton and his crew remained with the ship for ten months until it was eventually crushed by the ice.  Shackleton and his 27 men undertook a perilous lifeboat journey to the uninhabited Elephant Island, with Shackleton and a smaller crew then making an open-boat journey of 800 miles to reach a whaling station in South Georgia, mounting a rescue mission back to Elephant Island from there. This harrowing account of the British explorer can be read in this book “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing. It is a remarkable story.

In 2019 Maritime archaeologist and shipwreck expert Mensun Bound,  after 2 years of planning and with a budget of $250m sailed south, onboard the Aqulhas II equipped with high tech exploration tools – Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. He was determined to find the ship’s resting place, but was defeated by the icy conditions. Just like Endurance before, Agulhas II became trapped in sea ice. Whereas Shackleton had his men race from one gunwale to the other to try and shake the ship loose, the captain of the Agulhas II achieved the same effect by swinging a 40-ton fuel pod on a crane from one side to the other, gradually shifting the ship out of the ice’s grasp. Technology!

The Hunt for Shackleton’s ice ship in 2019 is available on Youtube from Cambridge University and also describes why this search is important. The website Endurance22.org contains several articles of interest in this discovery.

The Weddell sea named after James Weddell, a Scottish explorer and seal hunter, was once difficult to access because of its abundant pack ice and harsh weather conditions. However modern icebreaker ships have begun to explore this area. The Weddell Sea is a site of special importance to the global climate and the circulation of the ocean waters. It is in the densest waters in the Atlantic. The Weddell Gyre, delimited by a clockwise-rotating ocean flow in the Southern Ocean, covers an area more than half the size of the USA. Its characteristics control the physical and chemical properties of large parts of the global deep ocean, and it has the capability of influencing global climate on multiple timescales. Studying this Gyre is challenging, as sea ice covers the ocean surface year around, restricting access by research ships and sensing of ocean surface from satellites. New technology is now available to avoid past limitations, autonomous underwater vehicles, instruments flown by planes, and floats instrumented with sea-ice detection. More information on its importance can be read in this article.

Interested in finding out more about the Arctic and Antartica? The ABC Australia have a television program on the two poles and can be seen on Iview.

Fancy visiting the Wendell sea? One cruise states “with 5 full days in Antarctica, experience the towering tabular icebergs and Adelie penguin rookeries of the remote Weddell Sea, alongside some of the Peninsula’s most popular landing sites further south. Departs once a year, at the height of the summer, aboard a 90-passenger expedition ship”. Another emphasises the Emperor penguins. Just do a search for ‘ cruise Antartica Wendell”

Everything Else

Sometimes I am captivated by the title, or the cover or feel like a gentle dreamy read. Historical novels are of great interest, some are almost biographical, some are fictional with surprising elements of near truth. Take the “Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton, an historical novel set in the late 1600’s, mostly accurate description of life in this era with a few ‘artistic licences’ thrown in to add to the mysteries. “Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma” is a fascinating account of how this brilliant man was instrumental in unlocking the German cipher code and a sad one of how he was treated by the British government for his homosexuality.

The author Eileen Enwright-Hodgetts has for me a style that is so easy to read, entwining facts with a fictional story. There are several stories written in the world war two period such as ”Air Raid”, ”War Bride” and ”Imposter”. Her interests range outside of this period having travelled several countries. She manages to create a compelling read about jumping the Niagara Falls in ”The girl in the barrel”.

Eileen manages to weave a realistic story around facts, Her newest novel, soon to be released is “Girl in a Lifeboat” which is a fascinating story about the cover up over the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Mystery, intrigue, tragic horror, and a little romance are all present. Once started it is difficult to put down.

A series of books by Michael Beashel feature the early days of Sydney, under the title of the Sandstone Series. The immigrants arriving to make their fortunes, the Gold Rush, the wool trade and development of the city buildings. Jealousy, building, romance and historical facts are woven into the series.

Wow, the remains of Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” located in the Weddel Seas in March 2022, was a fantastic find after being ‘lost’ for more than a century. It was located 6km from the position recorded by Worsley, and at a depth of 3,008 metres. The three-masted sailing ship was lost in November 1915 when it was crushed by Antarctic ice and sank to the ocean floor during Shackleton’s failed attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. Submersible video shot by Endurance22 using advanced underwater vehicles called Sabertooths showed the ship to be in remarkably good condition. The timbers are remarkably well preserved, due to the lack of wood consuming microbes. Even more remarkable is that the expedition was a day away from having to abandon the search, as the ice was closing in and the blizzards and storms started. Read more