Discovery of the Erebus

Over 160 years ago, when the HMS Erebus was left, it eventually sunk, and was then lost to us until September 2014.  Abandoned when it was stuck in pack ice in the Arctic Circle (the Victoria Strait) with the Franklin Expedition of 1845, the explorers vanished and a century spanning mystery was created. The Franklin Expedition set out to discover the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean, and disappeared a few years in, never to be heard from again. Over the centuries, bodies would pop up in the Arctic, and many were eventually attributed to the lost Franklin expedition. Some of the bodies had defleshing marks on their bones, indicating cannibalism, while other bodies showed signs of lead poisoning, most likely from improperly stored food. Pieces of metal and other artifacts have been found over the years, with dating placing them around 1845. All of the evidence found over the years gave us a general idea of where the Erebus may have been abandoned to sink into the icy waters of the Arctic.

Over the years, multiple missions seeking to discover the wrecks of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror (the other ship on the Franklin Expedition) have failed, mapping much of the Arctic Circle but shedding no new light on the Franklin Expedition and where it went wrong. The native tribes of Inuit people told some of the early search teams what had happened, as well as the area where the ships went down, but they were disregarded as they were seen as savages.

In 2014, a team of Canadian explorers, led by Ryan Harris, finally stumbled upon the remains of the ship in the Southern Canadian Arctic. The ship itself is relatively undamaged, and located in about thirty six feet of water.  The reason for the ship being relatively undamaged has to do with the conditions in the Arctic: the lack of light and warm temperatures help many of the biological processes responsible for breakdown at bay. The discovery of the ship, especially in such good condition, may be instrumental in finding out what exactly happened that doomed the Franklin expedition. There may possible be scraps of paper that are still readable, or food to indicate how long they had remained with the ship, or perhaps even Captain Franklin himself, as his body has not been recovered.  Everything contained in this ship may help us to put together why the Franklin expedition went to wrong.