New images from the shipwreck of the HMS Terror could shed new light on what happened to the 1845 Arctic expedition.

Parks Canada has released new images from the first underwater exploration of the shipwreck of the HMS Terror. The ongoing study of the shipwreck and its artifacts should shed more light on Captain Sir John S. Franklin's doomed Arctic expedition to cross the Northwest Passage in 1846. Franklin's two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, became icebound in the Victoria Strait, and all 129 crew members ultimately died. It's been an enduring mystery that has captured imaginations ever since. Novelist Dan Simmons immortalized the expedition in his 2007 horror novel, The Terror, which was later adapted into an anthology TV series for AMC in 2018. (Season 2 of the TV show, set in the Japanese internment camps of World War II, is currently airing.)

The Terror was actually a repurposed warship, having survived the War of 1812 among other skirmishes. The expedition set sail on May 19, 1824 and was last seen in July 1845 in Baffin Bay by the captains of two whaling ships. Historians have managed to piece together a reasonably credible rough account of what happened. The crew spent the winter of 1845-1846 on Beechey Island, where the graves of three crew members were found. When the weather cleared, the expedition sailed into the Victoria Strait before getting trapped in the ice off King William Island in September 1846. Franklin himself died on June 11, 1847, per a surviving note dated the following April. It's believed that everyone else died while encamped for the winter, or while attempting to walk back to civilization.

There have been a number of studies examining the remains recovered from the graves and their vicinity on Beechey Island, as well as from King William Island. The current consensus is that pneumonia, tuberculosis, and a zinc deficiency contributed to the high death toll, along with hypothermia and starvation/malnutrition. There were even hints of cannibalism in the form of cut marks on human bones. Nobody successfully traversed the Northwest Passage until Roald Amundsen's expedition from 1903 to 1906. Amundsen avoided Franklin's doomed fate by traveling along the east coast of King William Island, rather than its west side.

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