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Mapping Terra Incognita
James Clark Ross, Chart of the South Polar Sea (1845), Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty
Ross map

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.
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