ICOMOS offers support for protection of Shackleton’s Endurance

The wrecked ship of the Shackleton's Antarctic expedition, SS Endurance, stuck in the ice in the Weddell Sea, circa January 1915. (Photo by Royal Geographic Society)On 9 March, the wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, was found lying in good condition some 3,000 meters below the site where it was sunk by ice damage in 1915. The Endurance wreck is emblematic of the history of the Antarctic, and of human persistence in adversity.

The International Polar Heritage Committee (IPHC), and the International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH), both part of ICOMOS, are concerned to ensure that the best available standards of investigation and protection are afforded to the newly discovered Endurance site, and are conscious that quick action to implement effective management is critical to achieving protection.

The hope is that the United Kingdom, appointed as site manager, will be able to communicate the importance of the Endurance site and the need for carefully considered and controlled investigations and management to a wider audience. For this, as well as for any future decision regarding the wreck site, a management plan should be submitted by the UK and discussed and approved under Annex V of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. The development of a management plan would be a major factor influencing the issuing of access permits by the UK and other Antarctic Treaty parties.

IPHC and ICUCH offer what help they might be able provide in devising protection, research and management solutions for this challenging site.

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Photo: The Endurance sank, crushed by ice, circa November 1915 © Royal Geographic Society