144 Year Old Whaling Shipwreck Discovered Off Alaskan Coast

Posted: Jan 12 2016, 10:01pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
144 Years Old Whaling Shipwreck Discovered Near Alaska Thanks to Climate Change
A small anchor and other object found in expedition. Credit: NOAA

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NOAA archeologists discovered the remains of two shipwrecks off the Arctic coast of Alaska. Less ice in the Arctic due to global warming led to the discovery.

Archeologists have discovered remains of two lost whaling ships that were trapped by ice pack and sank off the Arctic coast of Alaska almost 145 years ago.

The ships were part of a whaling fleet of 33 that were destroyed in a historic shipwreck in September 1871, leaving more than 1,200 whalers stranded. All of them were eventually rescued by remaining ships of the fleet but the ships were never traced after the demise.

“Earlier research by a number of scholars suggested that some of the ships that were crushed and sunk might still be on the seabed,” said Brad Barr archeologist and project co-director from NOAA. “But until now, no one had found definitive prove of any of the lost fleet beneath the water.”

The discovery was made possible thanks to the less amount of ice in the Arctic caused by the climate change. Global warming is melting ice more rapidly than ever before.

“This exploration provides an opportunity to write the last chapter of this important story of American maritime heritage and also bear witness to some of the impacts of a warming climate on the region’s environmental and cultural landscape, including diminishing sea ice and melting permafrost.” Barr said.

Researchers used advanced sonar and sensing technology to detect the remains of two ships including anchors, fasteners, ballasts and hulls.

Researchers believe that wrecks might be caused by submerged sand bar that was about 100 yards from the shore while the ice has ripped apart the hulls of ships and scattered their upper and lower portions.

“Usually, the Arctic does not destroy ships if there is a natural obstacle like a sand bar, large rocks or a sheltered cove to partially divert the force of tons of ice.” James Delgado, maritime heritage director for NOAA said.

Since global warming is increasing, researchers are hoping to get access to more potential shipwrecks in future as well.

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