Researchers Discover Legendary Shipwreck Using Underwater Imaging

Fantastic Voyage

An expedition team has found the underwater wreckage of a ship that famous explorer Ernest Shackleton chartered for a trip to Antarctica, The New York Times reports.

The team, led and funded by charity Royal Canadian Geographical Society, found the wreckage earlier this month in the choppy, ice cold seas off Canada's Atlantic Coast after scanning the ocean floor for 17 hours with sonar equipment.

Grainy footage from sonar imaging showed the wreckage, with the ship sitting upright, on the bottom of the ocean floor near the coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the NYT.

"Very quickly you could see it was Quest," Society CEO and expedition leader John Geiger told the newspaper. "The vessel is intact. It’s sitting on its keel, the mast is down, and you can see it on the seafloor."

Shackleton had originally anchored the ship near South Georgia Island, a spit of land in the South Atlantic Ocean west of the tip of South America. He was planning to explore a portion of Antarctica before dying of a heart attack in the cabin.

The ship continued to be in service for many years as a rescue and exploratory vessel — and even for hunting seals — until ice damaged and sunk it near Newfoundland and Labrador in 1962.

New Age of Discovery

Shackleton is most known for his epic journey on the three-masted wooden ship Endurance, on which he sailed from London in 1914 and journeyed to the South Pole for an ill-fated effort to cross Antarctica for the first time ever.

But when he and his crew arrived at the Weddell Sea, just off the coast of Antarctica, sea ice trapped the ship for months until it became damaged and started taking on water.

With the ship no longer seaworthy and sinking, Shackleton and his crew abandoned the vessel and survived on an ice floe for several months, until eventually they found their way back to dry land after a grueling rescue mission.

In 2022, a different expedition team found the wreckage of the Endurance in the Weddell Sea at around 10,000 feet underwater.

The discovery of the Endurance, and now the Quest, shows yet again that modern tech — such as imaging and underwater drones — has made finding shipwrecks much easier and cheaper than ever before.

With potentially more spectacular shipwrecks waiting to be found, it's truly a new age of discovery.

More on ship wrecks: Scientists Just Found One of the World's Most Elusive Shipwrecks Using an Undersea Drone