Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 2: Antarctic Exploration

Nineteenth Century

Much of the exploration of the Antarctic region in this century was made by whalers and sealers encouraged by the descriptions of the abundant marine life in the southern seas. There was also an increased interest in scientific investigation and in territorial claims. Many of these whalers and sealers kept discoveries a secret, as do those fishermen today who have their favourite fishing area.

In 1819 William Smith from Blyth on a voyage from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso was driven south toward the South Shetland Islands - the largest archipelago in the Antarctic. Smith returned the following year as pilot to Edward Bransfield when they surveyed the South Shetland Islands and discovered the Antarctic Peninsula at 64S. (Smith was the first to chart the Antarctic Peninsula.) In 1821 the South Orkney Islands were discovered by George Powell on the sealing sloop Dove with Nathaniel Palmer on the James Monroe.

The Russian navigator Thadeus Bellingshausen (from Estonia) was sent south by Tsar Alexander I with the ships Vostok and Mirny. He was the first to sight the Antarctic continent 2,300 km away from Bransfield's sighting and three days earlier in the voyage. Bellingshausen He completed the second circumnavigation of the continent (50 years after Cook) and reached the South Shetland Islands (which he thought he was the first to discover). Other sealers followed and by 1829 there were no fur seals left on the South Shetland Islands.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX