November 23rd marked the one year anniversary of the Antarctic cruise ship the Explorer striking an iceberg and sinking in the icy waters. To commemorate the occasion, Jon Bowermaster, who was on the first ship to arrive on the scene, has written a very thoughtful piece on the events that transpired that day.
In the story, Jon notes that since that day, he has often thought back on the “surreal and eye opening” events that he witnessed that day. When his ship, the National Geographic Endeavor approached the quickly sinking vessel, they expected to find a disaster in the water, with the potential for all 154 passengers to be dead. Instead, they found a clam, quiet scene, with lifeboats filled to the brim with people waiting to be plucked from the water.
A year later, and the official cause of the sinking is still under investigation. It is presumed that the ship hit an iceberg, tearing a hole in the side and causing it to quickly sink. We may never know the exact cause however, as the Explorer now lies on 4200 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. There are some who believe that the ship simply came apart due to neglect and a failure to inspect it properly. But of course that would open up a different can of worms.
Jon goes on to discuss the impact of tourism on Antarctica and the growing number of people who are traveling there each year and the difficulties in regulating those visits. Last year was a record breaking year for visitors to the region, and the expectation is that this year will be even more so.
Jon and his crew will be heading back very soon as well. Expect new dispatches in the days ahead.
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