Earlier this year, marine archaeologists made the thrilling identification of the remains of Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship the Endurancewhich sank in 1915 after being trapped in Antarctic ice in the Weddell Sea.
But now the remains of the ship may be in danger, reports the Guardian. If the Endurance is not lifted from the Antarctic seabed, it will “rot”, said Mensun Bound, director of the Endurance22 research expedition which found the wreckage, at a recent event in London.
So far, the frigid waters of Antarctica, which are fortunately free of wood-eating organisms, have helped preserve the ship. But over time, the wreck will continue to deteriorate if left on the ocean floor.
“If we leave it there, it’s organic, it’s going to decompose some time beyond our lifespan,” Bound warned. However, bringing the Endurance on the surface will be an extremely difficult task.
“There are a lot of opposing views on [raising the ship]. We have a range of ideas on this, and we have to remember the Shackleton family, who most likely own the ship, they have their own pretty strong opinions,” Bound said. “To set it up, we have to think about preserving it and its process, which museum is going to do it, which could take forever and a day.”
The wreckage currently lies nearly 10,000 feet below ocean waves, just four miles south of its last recorded position. Shackleton’s granddaughter, Alexandra Shackleton, has expressed her preference for the Endurance stay there.
Miraculously, the ship’s crew of 28 survived the ill-fated British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which was to complete the continent’s first land crossing.
And even if the Endurance never saw sunlight again, the Endurance22 team intends to return to the wreck site to further investigate its watery remains.
“She is the ultimate mystery of the sealed box, it is an Aladdin’s cave. It’s like the movie Citizen Kane with all the antiques, it’s all there,” Bound said. “[We’re] concerned in time to carry out a proper marine biological study because she is this incredible oasis in a vast plain.
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