‘Historic gem’ shipwreck found by Google Earth
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.