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Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship Endurance found after 107 years

Imogen Braddick, March 13, 2022 3:00PM Kids News

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The ship’s name, Endurance, can easily be seen on the stern of the wreck, discovered 3008m below the surface in icy waters of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Picture: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust media_cameraThe ship’s name, Endurance, can easily be seen on the stern of the wreck, discovered 3008m below the surface in icy waters of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Picture: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust


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The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, has finally been found off the coast of Antarctica 107 years after it sank.

The lost ship of the Anglo-Irish* explorer had not been seen since it was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea on November 21, 1915.

Last month, the Endurance22 Expedition set off from Cape Town in South Africa on a mission to find the vessel, one month after the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s death.

And Endurance was finally spotted on March 5 at a depth of 3008m and some 6km south of the position recorded by the ship’s Captain, Frank Worsley, according to the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.

Even though the wreck has been sitting in water for more than a century, the expedition’s director of exploration, Mensun Bound, said Endurance was “by far the finest wooden shipwreck” he had ever seen.

Wreck of Endurance discovered media_cameraThe shipwreck is a designated monument under the international Antarctic Treaty and must not be disturbed in any way. Picture: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

“It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact and in a brilliant state of preservation,” Mr Bound said.

“You can even see ‘Endurance’ arced across the stern*, directly below the taffrail*.

“This is a milestone* in polar history.”

The ship is said to look much the same as when it was photographed for the final time by Shackleton’s filmmaker, Frank Hurley, in 1915.

The masts are down and the anchors can be seen, but the rigging is in a tangle and there is some damage at the bow*, likely to be from the moment the sinking ship hit the seabed.

The expedition team even spied some boots and crockery* on board.

Antarctic media_cameraEndurance was trapped by ice and sunk on November 21, 1915. Picture: Frank Hurley

Mr Bound told the BBC: “Beside the companionway*, you can see a porthole that is Shackleton’s cabin.

“At that moment, you really do feel the breath of the great man upon the back of your neck.

“We found the wreck a hundred years to the day after Shackleton’s funeral. I don’t usually go with this sort of stuff at all, but this one I found a bit spooky.”

21-Nov-2002. .  .  Hurley images  MUST CREDIT NATIONAL LIBRARY , FRANK HURLEY NO SALES NO ARCHIVE an23478309. HURLEY FRANK,1885-1962. Frank Hurley with camera on the ice in front of the bow of the trapped Endurance in the Weddell Sea, Shackleton expedition 1915 [Antartica] media_cameraFilmmaker Frank Hurley with his camera on the ice in front of the bow of the trapped Endurance in the Weddell Sea during the Shackleton expedition in 1915. Picture: National Library/Frank Hurley

The leader of the expedition to find Endurance, Dr John Shears, described the moment cameras landed on the ship’s name as “jaw-dropping”.

“The discovery of the wreck is an incredible achievement,” he said.

“We have successfully completed the world’s most difficult shipwreck search, battling constantly shifting sea-ice, blizzards, and temperatures dropping down to -18C.

“We have achieved what many people said was impossible.”

Sir Ernest Shackleton, in 1915, leader of an expedition to Antarctica that began in 1914 aboard the sailing ship The Endurance.  (AP photo Frank Hurley Copyright Scott Polar Research Institute Royal Geographical Society). media_cameraSir Ernest Shackleton, in 1915, was the leader of the expedition to Antarctica aboard the sailing ship Endurance. Picture: AP/Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute Royal Geographical Society

Shackleton had set out to make the first land crossing of Antarctica, but had to abandon the quest when Endurance was trapped by sea-ice.

Miraculously, the brave explorer managed to get his men to safety on foot and on small lifeboats.

The mission to find the lost ship was launched by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust using a South African icebreaker*, called Agulhas II, which is equipped with remotely operated submersibles*.

media_cameraEndurance22 Expedition director of exploration Mensun Bound (left) and expedition leader John Shears (right) stand in front of South African icebreaker Agulhas II in Antarctica. Picture: AFP Photo/Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

The shipwreck is a designated* monument under the international Antarctic Treaty and must not be disturbed in any way.

Deep-sea polar biologist* Dr Michelle Taylor, from Essex University in the UK, said the shipwreck had been taken over by an “impressive diversity of deep-sea marine life” including stalked sea squirts, anemones and various types of sponges.

The Agulhas II finished the survey of the historic wreckage and left the search site on March 8.

The icebreaker is now on its way back to Cape Town, but the team members plan to make a stop at the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia where Shackleton is buried to pay their respects.

This story was published by The Sun and reproduced with permission.


  • Anglo-Irish: person of English descent living in Ireland
  • stern: back part of a ship
  • taffrail: the handrail around the open deck area toward the stern of a ship
  • milestone: an important stage or event in a process
  • bow: front part of a ship
  • crockery: plates, dishes, cups and other similar items
  • companionway: set of steps leading from a ship’s deck down to a cabin or lower deck
  • icebreaker: ship designed to break a channel through ice
  • submersibles: small crafts that travel underwater for research and exploration
  • designated: to say officially that a place or thing has a special character or purpose
  • biologist: scientist who studies living things


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  1. What is the name of Shackleton’s ship?
  2. What caused the ship to sink?
  3. Which country did the expedition to find the shipwreck set off from?
  4. How deep below the surface was the shipwreck found?
  5. Name two types of deep-sea marine life that have taken over the wreck.


1. Tier 3 vocabulary
Tier 3 vocabulary refers to subject specific, academic language. Can you identify all examples of Tier 3 vocabulary present in this news story?

Tip: Look for words that relate to ships or Antarctica that wouldn’t usually be used when talking about any other topics.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Create a mini “picture dictionary” with ship related words. Include some of the Tier 3 words you found in the activity above and any others you think may be important for a person learning about ships to know.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

I spy nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick three nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

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