When Ron Burgundy explained that diversity was an “old old wooden ship” in Anchorman, he very well could have been talking about something explorers just discovered. Because, in fact, an old, old wooden ship was just found 10,000 feet below the surface of the Weddell Sea at the edge of Antarctica.
The wreckage of Endurance – the ship which carried Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton to a location just four miles away from where it was found – has just been discovered in remarkably good condition for a wooden ship that has been underwater for more than a century. It sank to the seafloor in 1915 after being crushed by ice.
The search was brought on by the Falklands Marine Heritage Trust and was called Endurance22. They announced their discovery in a press release on Tuesday – just about 100 years after Shakleton’s death.
The expedition started last month with the team of Endurance22 setting sail aboard the Agulhas II – a South African icebreaker. To find the wreckage they used Saab’s (yes that Saab) Sabertooth autonomous underwater search vehicles. Due to the wreck being protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty, the team couldn’t touch or disturb the shipwreck in any way. However, they could both film and photograph it.
This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation,” Mensun Bound, Director of Exploration on the expedition, said. You can even see “Endurance” written across the stern, directly below the taffrail. This is a milestone in polar history.
Photos do indeed show the ship to be in crazy good shape and covered in all sorts of marine life. According to CNET, icy conditions in the Weddell Sea mean there is very little buildup of any sort of organism that would cause wood to decay.
Shackleton’s was looking to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea through the South Pole with the Endurance’s voyage. Obviously, this was not successful.
The 28 men on board had to abandon ship — spending months in makeshift camps on ice floes drifting north. They then boarded lifeboats to reach the “inhospitable, uninhabited,” Elephant Island, according to the release.
Shackleton and five other men took an 800-mile journey via lifeboat and ended up in South Georgia. Shackleton and two others then crossed the extremely-mountainous island to a whaling station.
The men left behind were eventually rescued and returned home, not losing a single man in the process.
What a guy.
If this blog isn’t enough to satiate your need for more information on the discovery, don’t worry.
An entire documentary was shot about the discovery as a part of National Geographic’s Explorer series. It’s set to premiere on National Geographic Channels and Disney Plus this fall, and will certainly be better than Anchorman 2.