IQUALUIT, Nunavut (UPI) — Canadian searchers hunting for the lost ships of Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 arctic expedition say they have found fragments of human remains and artifacts.
While the Parks Canada-led expedition has not found the wreckage of the British HMS Erebus or HMS Terror during more than two weeks of searching in the waters off Nunavut, the searchers have found a human tooth and pieces of bone, along with a toothbrush, buttons, screws with Royal Navy symbols, square nails and wooden debris on King William Island, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Sunday.
Lead marine archaeologist Ryan Harris called the discoveries “very interesting,” but said no conclusions had been drawn from them.
The crews from the Canadian Hydrographic Service also have been charting the sea floor, which Harris says will allow coast guard ships and other vessels to trim about 6.5 hours off their transit time around the southwest corner of King William Island.
Franklin and 129 men who comprised the crews of the two ships died when the vessels became trapped in ice off the island during a hunt for the Northwest Passage.
The search for Franklin’s ships has another significance beyond the history, as Canadian officials have often cited the importance of this search in terms of asserting Canada’s northern sovereignty, the CBC reported previously.