‘His­toric gem’ ship­wreck found by Google Earth

Evening Telegraph (First Edition) - - Court Reports -

THE wreck of a long-lost whal­ing ship from Dundee has been found in Green­land — 150 years af­ter it was scut­tled.

Erich Habich-Traut and two other divers found the wreck­age of t he steam whaler i n Que­qe­tar­suaq Har­bour on Green­land’s Disko Is­land.

Med­i­cal stu­dent Eric, C a r o l H a b i c h - Tr a u t and Marc Badorf vis­ited the har­bour in Au­gust af­ter the wreckag e , i ni­tially thought to be a Norse long­ship, was spot­ted on Google Earth.

Online re­search re­vealed it was likely to be Wild­fire, a Cana­dian-built ship that was part of the Dundee whal­ing fleet.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr HabichTraut’s re­port: “The ship­wreck in three to four me­tres depth is the rel­a­tively well­p­re­served hull of the steam whaler Wild­fire, scut­tled there on July 18 1868.”

Local mar­itime ex­pert John Wat­son, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Port of Dundee said: “This is re­mark­able, breath­tak­ing.

“Mal­colm Archibald records that Dundee City Archives holds a let­ter from George Welch (man­ager of the Tay Whale Fish­ing Co, and part owner of the Wild­fire) that stated: ‘The ves­sel was se­ri­ously stove in Davis Straits by heavy ice and was aban­doned full of wa­ter on the 18th July last.’

“What a his­toric gem has come from the blue.”

Although most coun­tries no longer deem whal­ing morally ac­cept­able, it was once a hugely im­por­tant in­dus­try in Dundee.

Dur­ing the Vic­to­rian era, whales, seal pelts and bear skins were sought-af­ter com­modi­ties across Europe. Early years saw the oil used for light­ing and heat­ing, but by the mid­dle of the 19th Cen­tury, it was also used for soft­en­ing the raw jute fi­bres that Dundee made into sack­ing in the city’s mills.

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