Cruise ship travellers may be snorkelling over the wreck of the Franklin Expedition's HMS Erebus this summer as Parks Canada teams up with a tour company to welcome visitors to the recently-discovered National Historic Site.
Parks Canada and the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee have announced they are partnering with tour company Adventure Canada. The company's "Out of the Northwest Passage" cruise from Kugluktuk, Nunavut, to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, in September will visit the wreck of the Erebus.
The ship was found in 2014 in shallow water. Adventure Canada's online itinerary says "adventurous travellers may have a chance to snorkel over the wreck.
"Those not wanting to get in the water may be able to view the wreck on screen where a member of Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Team can interpret the wreck using an underwater remotely operated vehicle."
The snorkelling, an Adventure Canada spokesperson later clarified, while under consideration, has not yet been confirmed with Parks Canada, though use of a remotely-operated underwater vehicle has been confirmed.
"It's not out of the question," Jason Edmunds, an Adventure Canada expedition leader, said of snorkeling. "And it is one of the ideas that came up. But we really need to put it under microscope and see if it can be done safely."
He said Parks Canada is doing its best to protect the site.
The ill-fated Franklin Expedition aimed to travel the Northwest Passage. HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were trapped in ice in 1846 and abandoned two years later off King William Island, according to a note left by the crew in a cairn on the island. Franklin and his 128 crew members ultimately perished.
The cost of the 17-day cruise ranges from $8,995 US to $22,795 US per person.
Parks Canada says the cruise that will visit the Franklin wreck is one of two cruises it is collaborating on with Adventure Canada for the 150th birthday of Confederation.