Canadian and Inuit researchers explore 174-year-old arctic shipwrecks

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HMS Terror

Plates and other artifacts on shelves next to a mess table where a group of lower ranking crew members would have taken their meals. Picture courtesy of Parks Canada

In 1845, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror set-sail from England to explore a Northwest Passage across what is now the Canadian Arctic. Both ships got stuck in the ice, and all 129 men on the expedition died.

The remains of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were discovered in 2014 and 2016, and now the Canadian government and Inuit researchers are embarking upon the largest, most complex underwater archaeological undertaking in the country’s history.

Earlier this month, a small robot was sent to the HMS Terror shipwreck to explore its interior spaces. The robot explored 20 different cabins and compartments across seven dives to take pictures. Images of over 90% of the lower deck were obtained.

The deep, frigid waters have kept the remains well-preserved over the last century-and-a-half. Beds and desks were found in their original placements, and items were still sitting on shelves. The only place that has yet to be explored is the Captain’s sleeping quarters, which is locked shut.

Researches say there is a high chance of finding written documents intact. With water temperatures under 0 degrees Celsius and no natural light, the remains have essentially been frozen in time.

All artifacts recovered will be co-owned by the Canadian government and Inuit. Click here for more information and pictures.

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