CHUKCHI SEA, ALASKA - Melting arctic ice reveals a whale of a find. Underwater researchers have discovered the remains of two 19th-century whaling ships off the coast of Alaska. Cool, yeah! But the thing that makes these wrecks so weird, is the circumstance which led to their watery grave.
One hundred forty-five years ago, the Whaling Disaster of 1871 claimed a fleet of 33 American whaling ships, after the vessels became trapped in the Arctic ice. The frozen ships were abandoned and eventually crushed by the moving ice and lost at sea forever. Well, until now. NOAA says because of climate change, less ice in the Arctic makes it possible to find more northern shipwrecks than ever before. The discovery of these two ships is the first definitive proof of the lost whaling fleet.
Along with the hulls, anchors, ballasts and pots used to render whale blubber into oil were found. Surprisingly not found were skeletons. That's because all the 1,200 sailors that were stranded on these ships were eventually rescued. Hey, wasn't whaling supposed to be a dangerous job? Of course, this whaling disaster was no disaster to actual whales. The loss of 33 ships basically sunk the American whaling industry. Now, the only thing whales have to worry about, is the Galveston beach.
Underwater relics from a much colder time. And that is both a good thing for whales, and a bad thing for melting arctic ice.