History

Great conditions greet the Victoria Strait Expedition team

Ice-free waters, nearly 24-hours of sunlight and placid conditions make for productive searching
  • Aug 20, 2014
  • 307 words
  • 2 minutes
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Calm seas and relatively clear weather in the Queen Maud Gulf in the past day have allowed Parks Canada’s search team to work around the clock surveying the sea bottom for the wrecks of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships. The endless daylight of the Arctic’s summer is marching quickly toward the endless night of its winter. It’s only dark for about 30 minutes of each day, but since these waters are ice free, there has been no need for the underwater archaeological team to slow its operations, even in the darkness.

“The conditions are about the best I’ve seen in six summers of searching for these ships,” says Parks Canada archaeologist Jonathan Moore.

The team’s side-scan sonar unit (called a towfish) has been trailing behind the boat since 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and since then surveying has continued non-stop. Search lines in this part of the Queen Maud Gulf will be completed by early this afternoon, and if no find is made, the Parks Canada team will move on to another part of the southern search area. The specific location to be surveyed next has not yet been finalized.

The part of the gulf that has been surveyed so far is gravelly in parts, and has an almost perfectly sandy bottom in others, so the images being returned by the sonar are extremely clear, and the areas that have been surveyed can be conclusively ruled out as possible locations for the wrecks. As a growing part of the gulf is surveyed, the remaining areas yield an ever higher probability of a find.

“It looks like a less crowded Parlee Beach down there,” says sonar operator Yves Bernard, referring to New Brunswick’s popular warm water beach. “In these conditions, if there is a ship on the bottom we can be absolutely sure that we’ll see it.”

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