By Megan Gannon - News Discovery
Divers recovered a bronze bell from the wreck of the HMS Erebus, a British ship that was missing for nearly 170 years after an ill-fated expedition to the Canadian Arctic.
In 1845, British Royal Navy officer and explorer John Franklin led more than 100 men on a quest to find a Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. But they never completed their mission; in 1846, their ships — the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror — became trapped in ice near King William Island in northern Canada.
The weeks and months that followed were grim. Many of the crewmembers died of some combination of exposure, starvation, scurvy and lead poisoning. Some may have resorted to cannibalism. Searchparties looking for the missing crew turned up empty, though a few graves were later found. The fate of the ships, meanwhile, remained a mystery until this past September.
Since 2008, Parks Canada led six searches for the sunken vessels. The agency finally succeeded this year, after capturing sonar images of a wreck in the eastern part of the Queen Maud Gulf.