Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ghost ship of Franklin Expedition

So, they've located one of the ships from the Franklin Expedition! That's pretty exciting. It's one of those stories that, as a Canadian, you learn about in school. Franklin was trying to find a Northwest Passage through the Arctic and in 1845 he led two ships, manned by 129 men, out of port and was never seen again.

John Torrington - Source
Over the years bits and pieces of the story came together. Inuits told stories of an ice bound ship and men travelling over frozen water. Life boats were found full of canned goods and other items. There were whispers of cannabalism. Then the mummified, frozen remains of three crewmen were found and in the process of exhuming and examining these remains an interesting detail came to light - the amount of lead in the bodies. This detail led credence to a theory that the men had been suffering from lead poisoning from the canned food. Lead poisoning would have affected their brains and so their reasoning. The ability to decide on how best to survive their grim situation was most likely compromised. Read more here and here.

There is a political slant to this discovery tho. Our Prime Minister put a lot of our country's resources into finding these ships. He, and others, think it will solidify Canada's case for sovereignty over an area now under dispute with several countries. Not many cared when it was all just arctic ice but now that a lot of it has melted and ships can pass through the area more easily, well, it seems it's become prime real estate, especially when it comes to searching for oil (watch Emma Thompson in the Arctic with Greenpeace).

This is our climate changing future.