Saturday, February 18, 2012


  Unknown artist, Gold Ring, c1823, 
© National Maritime Museum Collections, 
Greenwich, London

BAY ART BLOG: The National Maritime Museum
                                       and Baffin Bay                           
Captain John Franklin.        
  Engraved inside the gold band reads, "Part of ye canoe used by Captn Franklin RN in his land Arctic Expedition 1819-22."  This historic ring cradles a sliver of wood decorated with a leaf border. The captain referenced is Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), the Arctic explorer who disappeared during an expedition and resulted in his wife spending years offering grand rewards for the discovery of her husband.

  The 59-year old captain, with a reputation for banning swearing and drunkenness with his crew, left England in 1845 as an experienced officer of the Royal Navy accompanied by 128 men.  He had explored the Canadian Arctic previously three times, but this would be his last. The men were last seen in Baffin Bay waiting for good weather. 

A route thought to be taken during a search for Franklin. 
King William Island is near number 4.
   Franklin died on King Williams Island 11 June 1847 per a note found during a search that described the fatal incident, but searches for the captain and crew still continued. In 1981 scientists from the University of Alberta ran a study of the bodies of crew members and evidence revealed they had likely died of pneumonia and lead poisoning. Marks on the bones even suggested cannibalism. 
Iceberg in Baffin Bay.   
   Many search expeditions took route through Baffin Bay, named after William Baffin in 1616. It is connected to the Arctic and the Atlantic oceans and is mainly not navigable except for the North Water that provides air for aquatic life. In 1933, Baffin Bay experienced a strong 7.3 magnitude earthquake, the largest known north of the Arctic Circle. There are frequent winter storms with average temperatures -4 to -18 degrees Fahrenheit.  Summer temperatures average 45 degrees Fahrenheit with about 4-10 inches of rain annually. About 20,000 Beluga whales are known to live there along with walrus, seals, fox and polar bears. Hunting has been restricted to protect the wildlife. Fish include cod, flounder, herring and halibut.  Birds include the Snowy Owl.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
  The National Maritime Museum is home to the world's largest maritime library dating back to the 15th century. Founded in 1934, it is located by the 17th-century Queen's House and the 1950's Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The buildings began in 1807 as a school for the children of seafarers. Today's collection includes maritime art, maps, manuscripts, ship models, navigational instruments and more. In 2011 the museum opened its largest wing, The Sammy Offer Wing that includes exhibitions, a permanent gallery, a cafe, library and archive.

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