Archaeologists Are Currently Searching for Ernest Shackleton’s Lost Ship

A century later, the search for the Endurance is on

Ernest Shackleton's grave. A new expedition, Endurace22, has set out to find Shackleton's lost ship the Endurance, which sank off Antarctica in 1915.
Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) is buried in the cemetery at Grytviken on South Georgia Island.
David Stanley, CC BY 2.0

It’s been over a century since Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance sank while on a voyage to Antarctica. Since 1915, it’s been buried underwater, untouched by human hands even as it rests in the annals of maritime history. But soon, that might be changing. An ambitious expedition is currently en route to uncover the remains of another ambitious expedition — and its efforts might just offer a fresh glimpse of a historic vessel.

Earlier this month, marine archaeologist Mensun Bound set off on an effort to discover the remains of Endurance. It’s not that we don’t know where it is; instead, it’s that the ice around it has proven resistant to getting to the shipwreck. “The pack ice in the Weddell Sea is constantly on the move in a clockwise direction. It’s opening, it’s clenching and unclenching,” Bound told the BBC. “It’s a really vicious, lethal environment that we’re going into.”

The expedition Bound is heading, known as Endurance22, centers around the icebreaker Agulhas II. As noted in an article in Smithsonian Magazine, the icebreaker isn’t the only thing being used to find the wreck of the Endurance — a pair of underwater drones are also making their way around in search of their quarry.

As befitting a 21st century expedition, Endurance22 is also very much online. Its website offers more details on the technology involved, and also allows visitors to track its progress. It’s a modern spin on an ages-old journey of discovery.

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