LiveScience looks to Antarctica, where a new expedition hopes to find Endurance, the ship which carried polar explorer Ernest Shackleton to the frozen south before sinking in 1915. The new researchers say the ship should be well-preserved in the freezing, dark, and oxygen-poor waters of the Weddell Sea:
The Endurance22 expedition, slated to begin in February 2022, will navigate the treacherous southern waters, slamming through miles of pack ice in search of locations for state-of-the-art submarines to scan the ocean floor.
If the expedition scientists find the lost ship, they plan to survey and film the wreck. But they won’t take any artifacts, as the vessel is protected under the international Antarctic Treaty. The team’s 2019 attempt to locate the Endurance was called off due to extreme weather and a lost submarine. This time, the team is even more determined to find the remains of the legendary ship.
The Endurance now lies below nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) of dark water, its timbers likely well preserved by the absence of light and low oxygen content. The location where it sank, logged at the time by ship’ captain Frank Worsley, is well known. The real difficulty for the Endurance22 team will be in bulldozing through miles of thick ice in the Weddell Sea.
Although climate change will make the ice floe easier to break through than in Shackleton’s day, arriving at the location his ship sank at is still a challenge. The scientists intend to get there by ramming the ice with the icebreakers fitted to their ship, the South African SA Agulhas II. Once the researchers are sufficiently close to the documented site of the wreck, they will lower a Saab Sabertooth autonomous submarine into the freezing water and use satellite radar imagery to navigate it to the wreck.
The oxygen levels at the wreck’s location are high enough to sustain life, so the team suspects that a rich and strange ecosystem may have bloomed around the sea-changed Endurance. The researchers said there is even a possibility that they will discover new species.