The finding of the Endurance shines a light on Shackleton again The finding of the Endurance shines a light on Shackleton again

Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance has been discovered 107 years after it sank and on the 100th anniversary of the explorer’s funeral
10 March 2022

One of the world’s most legendary shipwrecks has finally been discovered in Antarctica, approximately four miles from where it was recorded before it was crushed by ice.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, lost under the ice more than a century ago, was discovered remarkably intact, more than 3km deep in the Weddell Sea.

Coincidentally, the ship was found on Saturday; the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s funeral, according to the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

The ship was found nearly a month after the Endurance22 expedition set off from Cape Town. More than 100 people, including researchers and crewmembers, were on the team who discovered it.

“We have made polar history with the discovery of Endurance, and successfully completed the world’s most challenging shipwreck search”, said expedition leader John Shears.

The find has cast a light again on the early days of polar exploration and the remarkable story of the original expedition in which the Endurance set sail for Antarctica in 2014 on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Upon arrival, she was caught in pack ice for 10 months and eventually had to be abandoned as she sank. Photographer Frank Hurley was on the expedition and his striking photos have helped keep the story alive ever since. 

Shackleton and his men camped on the ice for several months until it broke up and they could take to the sea in open boats. After several days they landed on Elephant Island, and the bulk of the men stayed there while Shackleton and five others carried on to South Georgia for help. Ultimately, all the crew survived. Ernest Shackleton himself has been held up as a model of good leadership ever since. He was eventually buried on South Georgia after another expedition to the Southern Ocean. 

The Royal Geographical Society is education partner in the current expedition to find the Endurance. The Society is marking the centenary of Shackleton’s death in a new exhibition, Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography, on display in its Pavilion at its South Kensington headquarters until 4 May. 

To mark the centenary, award-winning writer Mark Stratton is currently visiting South Georgia on assignment for Wanderlust – read all about it in an upcoming issue. Founding editor Lyn Hughes visited in 2005 and walked in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton. Lyn says, “You can’t go to Antarctica or South Georgia without being gripped by the story of the Endurance and the resilience of Shackleton and the crew. It stays with you for ever. And with the finding of the Endurance a new generation is going to hear this tale of heroism that is better than anything Hollywood can come up with” 


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