(Don Martin/Calgary Herald, 28 July 2010) -- MERCY BAY, N.W.T. - The historic ship whose crew discovered Canada’s Northwest Passage has been found 155 years after it was abandoned and sank in this oft-frozen Arctic bay atop isolated Banks Island. The wreck of HMS Investigator was detected in shallow water within days of Parks Canada archeologists launching their ambitious search for the 422-tonne ship from this chilly tent encampment on the Beaufort Sea shoreline.
“It’s sitting upright in silt; the three masts have been removed, probably by ice,” said Ifan Thomas, Parks Canada’s superintendent of the western Arctic Field Unit. “It’s a largely intact ship in very cold water, so deterioration didn’t happen very quickly.” The clear Arctic water makes it possible to glimpse the outline of the ship’s outer deck, which is only eight metres below the surface. Three graves were also found Tuesday. They are undoubtedly the remains of British sailors who succumbed to disease in the final months of the ship’s three-year Arctic ordeal.
“In anthropological terms, this is the most important shipwreck in history,” said senior marine archeologist Ryan Harris. “It’s a bit like finding a Columbus ship in the Arctic.”
Posted by Amanda Graham – 28 July 2010; 6:11:18 PM – Permalink
Tagged: History, News, Polar research: Reports and findings, Research