In the fall of 1915, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance sank off the coast of Antarctica, stranding its crew on drifting sea ice and setting in motion one of history’s most dramatic tales of overcoming seemingly hopeless odds. While all of the expedition’s 28 crew eventually were rescued, the ship’s final resting place has remained a much-discussed maritime mystery—the unwritten last chapter in a legendary story of survival and triumph. That is, until today. A team of researchers has announced they’ve located the wreck at the bottom of the treacherous Weddell Sea, adjacent to the northernmost part of Antarctica.
The first images of the ship were transmitted via autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) from nearly two miles down on March 5. As the camera glides over the wooden deck of the ship, video captures century-old ropes, tools, portholes, railings—even the masts and helm—all in nearly pristine condition due to cold temperatures, the absence of light, and low oxygen in the watery resting place."
“I’ve been hunting for wrecks since my mid-twenties, and I have never found a wreck so coherent as this one,” marine archaeologist Mensun Bound, 69, said via satellite phone as he and fellow crew members began their long journey back to Cape Town after more than a month of searching for Shackleton’s ship. “You could see the bolt holes, and everything.”