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Antarctica - Exploration Throughout Time

  • Sep 1, 1519

    Ferdinand Magellan Sails to the Indies

    Ferdinand Magellan sails from Spain in search of a westerly route to the Indies. Sailing down the coast of South America he discovered the narrow straight passing through to the Pacific Ocean which today bears his name. To the south lies Tierra del Fuego which the early geographers assumed to be the edge of the southern continent.
  • Sep 1, 1578

    Franics Drake Gets Hit by a Strom

    Francis Drake passes through the Straights of Megellan only to find himself blown significantly southward due to a tremendous storm in the Pacific. This passage is now know as the "Drake Passage"
  • Joh Davis Discovered the Falkland Islands

    the Englishman John Davis, in great desire discovered the Falkland Islands. This was a tragic expedition as the crew were forced to eat some 14,000 penguins which they were forced to kill for food. Stored as properly as possible, once they reached the tropics the penguin meat spoiled and subsequently only 16 members of the original crew of 76 ever reached home shores.
  • Antonio De La Roche is Blown South of Cape Horn

    Antonio de la Roché is blown south of Cape Horn and experiences the first sighting of South Georgia.
  • Yves Joseph discovers the Lles Kerguelen

    Frenchman Yves Joseph de Kerguélen-Trémarec discovers the Îles Kerguélen.
  • Jean-Baptiste Bouvet de Lozier Discovers Bouvet

    Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Bouvet de Lozier discovers Bouvet. The island is not sighted again until 1808. Due to significant ice packs, the first landing did not take place until the American Morrell landed in 1822.
  • Captain Cook crosses the Antarctic Circle

    Captain James Cook and his crew become the first men to cross the Antarctic Circle.
  • Captain Cook discovers the South Sandwhich

    Captain Cook, on his third voyage, sails past South Georgia and discovers the South Sandwich Islands two weeks later.
  • Sealing Industry starts

    This year marks the start of the sealing industry on South Georgia. The sealers are primarily American from New England as the Europeans are involved in war.
  • Federick Hasselborough discovers Macquarie Island

    Australian Frederick Hasselborough discovers Macquarie Island while searching for new sealing grounds.
  • William Smith discovers the South Shetland Islands

    Englishman William Smith is blown to the south while rounding Cape Horn and discovers the South Shetland Islands, claiming them for Great Britain in October.
  • Edward Bransfield is first to see the Antarctic Peninsula

    the Royal Navy sends Edward Bransfield, with Smith as pilot, to search the waters southeast of the newly claimed South Shetlands. As a result, it is claimed that he is the first to see the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen becomes first person to see the Antarctic continent

    Russian Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen becomes the first person to see the Antarctic continent (January 27).
  • Nathaniel Palmer claims to see the Antarctic Peninsula

    American Nathaniel Palmer, on the HERO, claims to see the Antarctic Peninsula. Palmer was a member of a sealing fleet from New England. Only 19 years old, he was dispatched from the sealing grounds in the South Shetlands by his commanding officer to search for land to the south.
  • Belling discovers the Peter Islands & the Alexander Islands

    Bellingshausen returns to the Antarctic waters and discovers Peter I Island and the Alexander Islands. He completes a circumnavigation of Antarctica being only the second explorer, after Cook, to do so.
  • John Davis becomes the first person to land on the Continent

    American sealer John Davis arguably becomes the first person to land on the continent. From Connecticut, Davis had been searching the South Shetlands for seals.
  • Nathaniel Palmer & George Powell discover the South Orkney Islands

    Nathaniel Palmer discovers the South Orkney Islands along with British sealer George Powell.
  • James Weddell sails 74 degrees south

    Englishman James Weddell sails to 74 degrees south. This is the farthest south yet reached and the penetrated sea bears his name today. Except for possibly Morrell, no one is able to penetrate this sea again for eighty years.
  • John Biscoe discover the enderby Land

    Englishman John Biscoe, an employee of the British sealing business "Enderby Brothers", discovers Enderby Land, the first sighting of Antarctica from the Indian Ocean zone.
  • John Bailey discovers the Balleny Islands

    Englishman John Balleny, another Enderby Brothers employee, sails from New Zealand and discovers the Balleny Islands.
  • Lt. Charles Wikes sites an area and names it Wikes Land

    Lt. Charles Wilkes, American leader of the United States Exploring Expedition, sights an area now known as Wilkes Land.
  • Jules-Sebastian Dumont d'Urville discovers land and calles it Adelie after his wife

    Frenchman Jules-Sebastian Dumont d'Urville discovers a stretch of Antarctic coastline which he promptly names for his wife, Adélie.
  • Sir James Clark Ross discovers ocean

    under Sir James Clark Ross in EREBUS and TERROR, search for the South Magnetic Pole has been ordered by the British Royal Navy. He discovers Victoria Land and enters the sea which is known famously now as the Ross Sea. He discovers Ross Island, Mt. Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf.
  • Captain Carl Larsen discovers fossils

    Captain Carl Larsen of the JASON lands near the Antarctic Peninsula on Seymour Island. Discovering a number of fossils, this becomes the first evidence of a prior warmer climate.
  • Carsten Borchgrevink Discovers an Offshore Island

    Henryk Bull lands in the Antarctic at Cape Adare. A member of the party, Carsten Borchgrevink, finds lichen on an offshore island becoming the first signs of plant life.
  • Adrien de Gerlache's crew get Trapped In An Antarctic Winter

    Adrien de Gerlache and crew in the BELGICA become trapped in the pack ice off the Antarctic Pensinsula. They drift helplessly for a year becoming the first to survive an Antarctic winter.
  • Carsten Borchgrevink's crew Discover Cap Adare

    Carsten Borchgrevink and crew of the SOUTHERN CROSS land at Cape Adare. They build huts and become the first to winter over on the continent.
  • Carl Lansen Builds First Whale Watching Station

    Carl Larsen builds the first whaling station at Grytviken on South Georgia. Before ten years elapse, over 20 stations and factory ships are operating in this region.
  • William S. Bruce's crew Discover Coats Land

    William S. Bruce and members of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition aboard the SCOTIA discover Coats Land. This is the first sighting of land to the south of the Weddell Sea.
  • Ernest Shackleton & His Crew Attempt to Reach the South Pole

    explorers Ernest Shackleton, Frank Wild, Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams attempt to reach the South Pole. Within 30 days they have surpassed Scotts effort in 1903. Reaching within 97 nautical miles, the group is severely ill and undernourished requiring them to abandon their attempt on the pole.
  • Douglas Mawson & His Crew Reach the South Magnetic Pole

    Edgeworth David, Douglas Mawson and Alistair McKay reach the South Magnetic Pole.
  • The Japanese Sail to the Bay of Whales

    the first Japanese Antarctic Expedition sails south led by Lt. Nobu Shirase and lands at the Bay of Whales.
  • Norweigian Reach the South Pole

    Norwegian Roald Amundsen and four team members reach the South Pole. Amundsen discovered a new route which took only 57 days. Letters are left for Scott, a Norwegian flag planted and then they return to the Bay of Whales.
  • Willhelm Filchner Discovers the Luitpole Coast

    Wilhelm Filchner in the DEUTSCHLAND discovers the Luitpold Coast.
  • Robert F. Scott & His Crew Reach the South Pole, Only to Find Out...

    Robert F. Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans and Lawrence Oates reach the South Pole. Unfortunately, Amundsen had already been there and left a flag marking the spot. Terribly discouraged after a tortuous journey, all members perish on the return trip. Scott, Wilson and Bowers die in their tent after using up all fuel and food. The three are not discovered until November.
  • Scott Northern & His Crew Give Up Hope of the Terra Nova

    Scott's Northern Party give up hope of the TERRA NOVA arriving to pick them up before winter sets in. The six men must dig a cave out of a snow bank where they live for six months on penguin and seal meat.
  • Douglas Mawson Begins His Lonely Walk Back to His Base

    Douglas Mawson must begin his lone trek across George V Land back to his base at Commonwealth Bay. Mawson's two companions had died and despite the tragedy, he makes it home. A new section of coast is discovered and radio is used for the first time in Antarctica.
  • Ernest Shackleton Aborts Plan to Cross the Continent

    Ernest Shackleton has a plan to cross the continent but is forced to abandon this idea as his ship, the Endurance, is crushed in the ice of the Weddell Sea after drifting for nine months. The 28 men must camp on the floating ice for five more months before an opening in the ice allows them to take to the boats for Elephant Island in the South Shetlands. Meanwhile, members of Shackleton's Ross shore party lay depots for the ill-fated group, depots expected to be used by Shackleton and his party o
  • Ernesdt Shackleton Passes Away

    at the age of 48, Ernest Shackleton dies of a heart attack. On board the QUEST at the time, Shackleton is buried at South Georgia.
  • Hubert Wilkins Makes the First Flight Ever in Antarctica

    Hubert Wilkins makes the first flight in the Antarctic region, flying from Deception Island in the South Shetlands in a Lockheed Vega monoplane.
  • British, Australian & New Zealand Research Expedition Establishes

    The British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition establishes itself under Douglas Mawson over two summer seasons discovering MacRobertson Land and charting much of the adjacent coastline.
  • Lincoln Ellsworth is First to Fly Over the Whole Continent

    American Lincoln Ellsworth is the first to successfully fly across the continent.
  • A Base is Set Up In Antarctica

    OPERATION HIGHJUMP is organized by the US Navy. A total of 4700 men, 13 ships and 23 aircraft are involved. A base is set up at Little America. Extensive mapping of the coast and interior is accomplished. Over 70,000 aerial photographs are taken.
  • Multinational Expedition Is Set Up

    A multinational expedition is set up in Dronning Maud Land, by Sweden, Great Britain and Norway.
  • 12 More Bases Are Constructed In Antarctica

    the International Geophysical Year begins with Antarctica the main effort of scientists from 67 countries over the next 18 months. Twelve new bases are constructed with the Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole (American) constructed for the OPERATION DEEPFREEZE expeditions.
  • 12 Nations Sign a Treaty

    the twelve leading nations participating in the IGY sign the "Antarctic Treaty" in Washington, DC. The treaty was framed as an agreement so the continent "shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes". The treaty came into effect in 1961 and guarantees access and scientific research in all territory south of 60° latitude.