Last year Parks Canada released a minute of the video taken by the remote operated vehicle which found the HMS Erebus and a minute of the film taken by divers when they discovered the ship’s bell was included in a brief video about the recovery and analysis of the bell, but other than that, we’ve only had a few photographs of the wreck.
On Thursday, VIP visitors to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto got an unexpected treat when what they thought would be a few minutes of recorded footage of the new Erebus ice dive turned out to be a live broadcast of a dive to the wreck complete with narration by underwater archaeologist Ryan Harris. The ROM event was attended by government types like Treasury Board president Tony Clement and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment Colin Carrie and by an extremely lucky seventh grade geography class from University of Toronto Schools. After the video tour, they were able to ask questions about the ship to diver Marc-Andre Bernier.
Now Parks Canada has released a recording of that live stream so those of who are neither government officials nor in the seventh grade can get their first long, hard look at the wreck of the HMS Erebus. It shows Harris, supported by an off-screen Leading Seaman Caleb Hooper, moving from stern to bow pointing out areas and artifacts of interest like the bronze six-pound cannons, the tracks that allowed the crew to lift the screw propeller out of the water when ice was heavy, the quarterdeck, the ship’s very long tiller, the capstand, the remains of the mainmast and the port side bilge pump.
The quality of the picture is excellent, thanks in part to the two feet of ice on the surface that block waves and allow particulate matter to sink to the seafloor. There are moments when it’s a bit dark down there, what with it being 36 feet deep under a thick ice sheet, but you can still see what Harris is describing just fine. The video is just short of 10 minutes long (time totally flies, though, so don’t let that daunt you) and ends a little abruptly which I hope means there will be a part two released soon.
The dives only began last week because they were delayed by bad weather and are expected to continue through Friday. There’s a photo gallery of the Erebus base camp, the triangular holes cut into the ice sheet, the blocks of ice removed after being cut out and more here. Also, Parks Canada Archaeology tweeted this amazing picture of a tent shot from the hole in the ice.
Here’s the video about the HMS Erebus bell released in November 2014. It’s short but awesome: