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Ernest Shackleton’s 107-year-old Endurance is discovered, crushed below the Antarctic

It was discovered 100 years after Sir Ernest Shackleton's death.

Ernest Shackleton’s 107-year-old Endurance is discovered, crushed below the Antarctic
The shipwrecked Endurance. Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

Scientists finally found the shipwreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance, 107 years after it sank. 

The ship was crushed by sea-ice in 1915, leading to Shackleton and his men making a dramatic escape over the ice as well as in small boats.

Now, one hundred years after the death of Ernest Shackleton, the wreck was discovered on Saturday, March 5, at a depth of 3008 meters at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, a press statement reveals.

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The Endurance22 expedition finally finds Shackleton's ship

Endurance was found by a team of scientists operating from South African vessel S.A. Agulhas II as part of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust's Endurance22 expedition, which set out specifically to locate the lost ship. The expedition had previously lost an autonomous submersible due to the harsh icy conditions of the Weddell Sea, but it finally found the treasure it was seeking.

Footage and images from the shipwreck show it to be in good condition, despite the time it has spent submerged at the bottom of the sea. The name Endurance is clearly visible on the ship's stern and the timber of its hull looks to be in a surprisingly strong condition.

Ernest Shackleton’s 107-year-old Endurance is discovered, crushed below the Antarctic
Source: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

"The Endurance22 expedition has reached its goal," said expedition leader Dr. John Shears. "We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search. In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that directly affects the global climate and environment."

Ernest Shackleton's great Antarctic expedition

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out in 1915 to make the first land crossing of Antarctica, but their mission was put on hold when sea ice crushed their ship forcing them to flee over the thick ice sheets surrounding the vessel. Shackleton and five others eventually made an 800-mile journey in a small boat to reach South Georgia, where they could seek help for the remaining crew, all of whom survived.

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Ernest Shackleton’s 107-year-old Endurance is discovered, crushed below the Antarctic
Source: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

At the same time as searching for Endurance, the weeks-long Endurance 22 expedition studied ice drifts, ice thickness, and weather conditions at the Weddell Sea, adding to our understanding of the effects of climate change on the region. The Endurance shipwreck has been designated as a monument under the international Antarctic Treaty meaning it will not be disturbed in any way, and no objects observed on the ship will be brought up to the surface. 

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