Thursday, August 04, 2016

What's happening on the Franklin dive sites? UPDATED

Parks Canada underwater archeologists are in the midst of planning for an expected return to the mid-19th-century wreck in Nunavut this summer and hope to get a closer look inside those collapsed timbers.
Using a combination of high-tech tools, perhaps including a new and nimbler remotely operated underwater vehicle — along with archeological sleuthing and DNA analysis down the road — they see potential for revealing much more than just a treasure trove of artifacts.
That is a CBC News story from last April 30. Heard much since about Parks Canada's explorations on HMS Erebus this summer?  Me neither.

There is abundant promotion for talks and exhibitions and displays both digitally and in locations all over Canada and the Franklin twitter feed never stops:

But news?  About explorations made or cancelled or postponed?  About funding or manpower issues? News about the Franklin discovery sites seems to entirely in the hands of the publicists and promoters, with little from independent journalists or from the researchers themselves.

One exception:  Dean Beeby's recent reporting on Canada's apparent commitment to give a lot of the Franklin artifacts to Britain, and the pushback from Nunavut Inuit. Beeby reports that a seven-day dive on the Erebus will take place in mid-September of this year.  That's not something that is easily found on Parks Canada's Franklin websites.

And: there are reports that because of the jurisdictional dispute Beeby discusses, Nunavut has been blocking dive permits to Parks Canada.

Meanwhile, Russell Potter's new book Finding Franklin (from McGill-Queen's) is reviewed here.

Update: Russell Potter sends additional well-sourced information, which reminds me to recommend his blog Visions of the North on all Franklin matters. See this post on the ownership of Erebus artifacts:
I hear that the planned dives on "Erebus" this year are in fact planned only for two days. It's a very small window, and I'm not sure that much more will be learned; I understand that they may be testing a new, more manoeverable mini-ROV. It's possible that they have already identified specific parts of the ship they want to examine, and/or certain objects they wish to retrieve.

I don't know for certain, but my sense is that this small window for "Erebus" was scheduled because the Parks folks want to spend as much time as possible looking for "Terror." And, as usual, their surface support -- the Laurier, and boats launched from it -- is a vessel with many missions and obligations, and it can't be dedicated solely to the Franklin search for an extended period of time.

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