Shackleton’s Endurance ship gets extra protection

by | Jul 9, 2024 | Climate Change

4 hours agoBy Jonathan Amos, @BBCAmos, Science correspondentFMHT/National GeographicA protection perimeter drawn around Endurance, one of the world’s greatest shipwrecks, is being widened from a radius of 500m to 1,500m.The extended zone will further limit activities close to the vessel, which sank in 1915 during an ill-fated Antarctic expedition led by celebrated polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.The measure is part of a newly published conservation management plan (CMP).Already, no-one should retrieve or even touch objects in the protected zone.Everything must be left in situ.The perimeter update is a recognition that debris from Endurance – including crew belongings – may be strewn across a larger area of ocean floor than previously thought. The ship lies 3,000m down in the Weddell Sea. (Oil painting by George Cummings)”Endurance is very well protected where it is now, given its remoteness, depth and a near-permanent cover of sea-ice,” explained Camilla Nichol, the chief executive of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, which drew up the CMP in partnership with Historic England.”There are however considerable potential risks and it requires an international effort to make sure this wreck is not interfered with so that it can be sustained long into the future,” she told BBC News.Endurance is one of the standout symbols of the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.Its story has captivated the world for decades.The ship was lost to the deep when it became trapped and holed by thick Antarctic sea-ice. How Shackleton then managed to get all his men to safety is the stuff of legend.The discovery of Endurance on the ocean bottom in March 2022 was nothing short of a sensation.It had been regarded as perhaps the single most difficult wreck to find anywhere on the globe.James Blake/FMHTVery few people have the expertise to visit Endurance today, but this is unlikely always to be the case.And as the world warms and the frozen floes in the polar south continue to retreat, opportunities to access the wreck will increase.Deep-diving technologies are certain to become more capable, which raises the worrying prospect of looting, or of crash-damage resulting from careless submersible operations. Fishing is sure to become more commonplace in the Weddell Sea and the risk of trawlers’ discarded gear getting tangled in the wreck is an additional concern.December 1914: Endurance departs South GeorgiaFebruary 1915: Ship is thoroughly ice-lockedOctober 1915: Vessel’s timbers start breakingNovember 1915: Endurance disappears under the iceApril 1916: Escaping crew reaches Elephant IslandMay 1916: Shackleton goes to South Georgia for helpAugust 1916: A relief ship arrives at Elephant IslandThe CMP, which was unanimously approved at a recent meeting of nations that are party to the Antarctic Treaty System, looks forward to how these threats can be mitigated.An initial step is the agreement from cruise ship owners not to go anywhere near the Endurance zone.A further step would be to boost the wreck’s protection rating.It’s currently …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nn4 hours agoBy Jonathan Amos, @BBCAmos, Science correspondentFMHT/National GeographicA protection perimeter drawn around Endurance, one of the world’s greatest shipwrecks, is being widened from a radius of 500m to 1,500m.The extended zone will further limit activities close to the vessel, which sank in 1915 during an ill-fated Antarctic expedition led by celebrated polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.The measure is part of a newly published conservation management plan (CMP).Already, no-one should retrieve or even touch objects in the protected zone.Everything must be left in situ.The perimeter update is a recognition that debris from Endurance – including crew belongings – may be strewn across a larger area of ocean floor than previously thought. The ship lies 3,000m down in the Weddell Sea. (Oil painting by George Cummings)”Endurance is very well protected where it is now, given its remoteness, depth and a near-permanent cover of sea-ice,” explained Camilla Nichol, the chief executive of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, which drew up the CMP in partnership with Historic England.”There are however considerable potential risks and it requires an international effort to make sure this wreck is not interfered with so that it can be sustained long into the future,” she told BBC News.Endurance is one of the standout symbols of the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.Its story has captivated the world for decades.The ship was lost to the deep when it became trapped and holed by thick Antarctic sea-ice. How Shackleton then managed to get all his men to safety is the stuff of legend.The discovery of Endurance on the ocean bottom in March 2022 was nothing short of a sensation.It had been regarded as perhaps the single most difficult wreck to find anywhere on the globe.James Blake/FMHTVery few people have the expertise to visit Endurance today, but this is unlikely always to be the case.And as the world warms and the frozen floes in the polar south continue to retreat, opportunities to access the wreck will increase.Deep-diving technologies are certain to become more capable, which raises the worrying prospect of looting, or of crash-damage resulting from careless submersible operations. Fishing is sure to become more commonplace in the Weddell Sea and the risk of trawlers’ discarded gear getting tangled in the wreck is an additional concern.December 1914: Endurance departs South GeorgiaFebruary 1915: Ship is thoroughly ice-lockedOctober 1915: Vessel’s timbers start breakingNovember 1915: Endurance disappears under the iceApril 1916: Escaping crew reaches Elephant IslandMay 1916: Shackleton goes to South Georgia for helpAugust 1916: A relief ship arrives at Elephant IslandThe CMP, which was unanimously approved at a recent meeting of nations that are party to the Antarctic Treaty System, looks forward to how these threats can be mitigated.An initial step is the agreement from cruise ship owners not to go anywhere near the Endurance zone.A further step would be to boost the wreck’s protection rating.It’s currently …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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