Mapping Terra Incognita James Clark Ross, Chart of the South Polar Sea (1845),
Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty
The publication of Cook's journals penned during his now-legendary voyages
triggered a fevered rush to the Southern Ocean by explorers and whale and seal
hunters. With fleeting glimpses of the continent's coastlines, Thaddeus von
Bellingshausen, John Biscoe, James Weddell, Nathaniel Palmer, Peter Kemp, and
John Balleny contributed new pieces to the sketchy Antarctic puzzle seen here.
Captain James Clark Ross launched the HMS Erebus and Terror on an
epic four-year adventure, reaching a farthest south of 78º17'S and finding
the sea, ice shelf, and island that now bear his name, yet failing in his
principal object of locating the South Magnetic Pole. Afterward, Ross' ships
were given to Sir John Franklin for a north polar voyage to find the supposed
Northwest Passage. When Franklin vanished, naval resources were diverted from
Antarctic pursuits to more than 50 fruitless rescue missions. Commercial
exploration waned, as the widescale slaughter nearly drove fur seals to
extinction. The Antarctic doldrums would last nearly 30 years.