|Parks Canada's Marc-André Bernier (photo by R. Tacichman)
There were a number of significant updates and revelations -- here are just a few highlights:
• Although an anchor cable seen stretching out from HMS "Terror" was once thought to be evidence that it had been anchored at the site, it appears that this anchor is still aboard ship; the cable had simply played out from the windlass. Parks was able to get some quite good imagery via ROVs and early spring dives through the ice.
• The propellor compartment on Terror was filled with a wooden block, so the propellor was not deployed -- making the presence of what's been thought to be the exhaust pipe of the steam engine still more of a puzzle.
• A previously unidentified object in the vicinity of Terror has been identified as a ship's cutter boat with clinker construction. Oars on top of the port side ice channels were noted; she was 23 feet long.
• The first focus of work involving the recovery of objects may well be HMS "Erebus," due to the fragile condition of the wreck and its vulnerability to currents or passing ice in its shallow resting place. Already, much of the upper and lower decks have collapsed onto the bottom.
• Jonathan Moore stated that there was as yet no evidence of Inuit scavenging of HMS "Erebus."
• Charles Dagneau showed images of graffiti and cut-marks on plates, possibly marks of ownership similar to those found on silverware. Based on an initial assessment of this evidence, the officers and sailors seem to have interacted more closely than might otherwise have been imagined.
• As they've said all along, the Parks Canada team feels that there's a very good chance of recovering written documents. A key question will be to establish a timeline -- which ship was manned (if indeed both were), and which abandoned first, and how and when were they connected to sites on land?
• In terms of archaeological work on land, Doug Stenton is still hoping to identify the location of the "Tent Place" at Terror Bay, now that we know where Terror is.
• Anne Keenleyside gave a presentation on her work (with Stenton and Park) on DNA recovered from the bones of Franklin expedition members. As has been noted here and elsewhere, the most significant revelation of this study has been that a much higher number of individuals met their end at Erebus Bay than had previously been thought.
We live in exciting times.