Famous ship of Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance, that he abandoned in 1915 during his Antarctic expedition, probably is still in good condition over ocean floor.That is a conclusion from the research which studied how the wood that’s sunk degrades in the polar waters on southern side.The experiments which submerged the planks for a year showed they returned towards the surface with almost-pristine condition.The scientists point toward absence in region of the “ship worms”.
At any place in world, such molluscs will normally devour the sunken wood quickly.Though, Adrian Glover, who is from the Natural History Museum of London, says that the currents which circle Antarctic most probably prevent organisms from being anywhere near this continent.
That means remains of the wooden shipwrecks that are old, like the pine- and oak- constructed Endurance that got pierced by the ice, might be very well preserved within their graves in water the sea’s bottom.
Dr Glover thinks Endurance might be in very good shape, as is evident from the knowledge thay have regarding lower degradation’s microbial rates in cold Antarctic sea.
He further said,
“Marine archaeologists and historians have long dreamt of finding the wreck and recovering artefacts from Shackleton’s expedition. But I’m interested in how deep-sea ecosystems function and how they recycle large organic inputs.”
Scientists remember how they did put the samples of the whale bone as well as wood over platforms and lowered them toward sea bed to study activity of strangest creatures within ocean.
They’re the “zombies” or Osedax, or the worms which consume skeletons of the dead cetaceans, as well as of Xylophaga bivalve molluscs.
This team had only one simple idea or testing: that Osedax shall be aplenty in region which has large whale populations, though Xylophaga worms tend to be very rare. Scarcity of the latter should be specualted given that there isn’t any significant growth of trees which occurred in Antarctic for many million years that means amount of the wood that’s going into Southern Ocean tends to be minimal and insufficient for sustaining mollusc populations.
This is what this team found, indeed.After fourteen months under the water, bones on platforms got covered with zombie worms, also including 2 species previously undescribed, but wood stayed untouched.
Results do support contention that Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) that sweeps around White Continent, presents itself as barrier to the Xylophaga, preventing its larvae from penetrating this region from the other basins of ocean.
This study also provided latest insights into Osedax’s evolutionary history by comparing every species that eats whale bones, now known with similar, other taxonomic groups to science.
This points to “zombies” being very closely linked to one clade of the tiny creatures dwelling in mud which make use of specialist bacteria for consuming chemicals in sediments with very little oxygen.
Dr Glover explained, “Previous research had suggested that Osedax had diverged from groups that inhabited sulphidic hydrothermal vents and cold hydrocarbon seeps. But as we added in more taxa and more genetic evidence, it implied they are more closely related to these mud-dwelling ‘beard’ worms. And that makes sense that the ancestor should be a sediment-dweller given what we think about the distribution of whale bones on the sea floor.”
British Antarctic Survey’s Prof Lloyd Peck wasn’t involved in this study.According to him, the Southern Ocean presented much challenge for wide organisms’ variety that can be found in world elsewhere.
It could be that way the Xylophaga species digest wood simply didn’t function well enough for molluscs to have themselves established in his region – even when their larvae can cross ACC or find the rare wood sources to colonise.
“It takes animals in the Antarctic marine environment a very, very long time to process a meal. These wood-boring molluscs use enzymes that break down the wood externally and then they digest it. It could just be that things operate so slowly that this way of life doesn’t work.”
It’s thought that Shackleton’s Endurance happens to have settled around 3km below surface of Weddell Sea.From Blue Water Recoveries, a company based in UK, David Mearns is thinking of a plan like this. He said that new research did reinforce his view about the wreck being in good state.
He give details that she was quite badly holed over the stern due to large ice chunks which broke through ship’s sides that was below water line as well as causing her to be flooded.
He further elucidate,
“As the damage was too bad to be repairable, Sir Ernest was left with no other option than to abandon ship and set up camps on the ice. While Endurance will be a wreck, I expect to find her hull largely intact. She would have suffered additional impact damage when hitting the seabed, but I don’t expect this to be too bad.”