Scientists retrieve DNA of HMS Terror crew
  • picture
  • picture

A new study is aiming to identify some of the sailors who died during the ill-fated Arctic expedition.

Under the command of Sir John Franklin, the HMS Terror had originally set out for the Arctic in an attempt to traverse the Northwest Passage, but when the ice turned out to be much thicker than expected the vessel became hopelessly stuck and all 129 men on board ultimately perished.

The wreckage, which had remained lost for over 170 years, was finally located last year 24 meters underwater off the coast of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The skeletons being analyzed for DNA samples were found, not in the wreckage, but in small boats and campsites along the ship's route - an indication that the crew had attempted to reach safety.

The research team, which is led by Douglas Stenton of Nunavut's Department of Culture and Heritage, hopes to eventually identify each crew member and learn more about what happened.

"We have been in touch with several descendants who have expressed interest in participating in further research," said Stenton. "We hope that the publication of our initial study will encourage other descendants to also consider participating.