Shackleton's Endurance Gets a Widened 'Protection Perimeter'

The no-go area around famous shipwreck in Weddell Sea is now almost 5,000 feet
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2024 9:30 AM CDT

Keep the Endurance safe, at all costs. That's the spirit behind the newly set up conservation management plan (CMP) for the sunken Ernest Shackleton ship idling nearly 10,000 feet below the surface of the Southern Ocean's Weddell Sea. Now, that initiative includes an extended "protection perimeter," widened from 1,640 feet to just over 4,900 feet, reports the BBC. The outlet notes that stretching out the limits of the protected zone "is a recognition that debris from Endurance—including crew belongings—may be strewn across a larger area of ocean floor than previously thought."

Camilla Nichol, CEO of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, which helped draw up the CMP, acknowledges that the vessel, which sank in 1915 off the northern coast of Antarctica, is already nicely sheltered due to how deep it's down in the remote body of water, and because of a "near-permanent cover of sea ice." But, as the Maritime Executive notes, global warming is certain to melt that ice in the coming years, which could open up the wreckage site to "cruise tourism, fishing activity, or even treasure-hunting."

The trust would like to eventually have the site deemed an Antarctic Specially Protected Area, or ASPA, which would place even more restrictions on who can access it, including requiring a special permit. Currently, the wreck is considered a Historic Site and Monument, which means no one can touch the ship or anything on or near it, but they can still get close to the vessel to check it out. "There are ... 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," Nichol notes, per the BBC. Check out video of the wreckage here. (Earlier this year, another iconic Shackleton vessel was found.)

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