Monday, July 18, 2005

South-Pole.com

South-Pole.com. This site offers history, biographies, and memorabilia of explorers of the "great white continent". This is probably the best history of Antartica site on the Web. Not that there are many of them out there...

I like the quote on the index page. "Great God, this is an awful place." This is from Captain Robert Falcon Scott's diary. These were some of the last words he wrote before he died. It kind of makes you want to visit doesn't it?

From the site:

Welcome to the home page of South-Pole.com. This site is dedicated to the heroic explorers of our polar regions and the surrounding islands. The tales of these brave souls were often related in expedition mail sent home to anxious loved ones and beneficiaries. As you browse through this site, you will witness an extensive mix of reference material that will be useful to philatelists and students of polar history alike. For example, to the left you will notice a letter addressed to Capt. Nathaniel B. Palmer (1799-1877), who went to sea at the age of 14. At the age of 20, he played a major role as captain and part-owner of the HERO on the Fanning-Pendleton Sealing Expedition. The following season, as commander of the JAMES MONROE, he and British sealer George Powell together discovered the South Orkney Islands.

While the history of Arctic adventure essentially begins with the nineteenth century quest for the Northwest Passage and North Pole, the early explorers to Antarctic seas made sojourns solely for commercial reasons, some of which, incidentally, made new discoveries. The majority of these voyages, along with the highest development of the whaling and sealing industry, came in the nineteenth century when operations took place in every ocean of the world. Many of the peri-Antarctic islands were discovered by sealers or whalers and the first landings on half of them were made by men engaged in the whale and penguin oil industry. A particular problem with many sealing voyages was the secrecy with which the industry was conducted; should a captain and crew discover a new sealing area, they normally concealed its location in the hope of having no competition when exploiting it on subsequent voyages. The early sealing industry declined as the population of Fur seals and Elephant seals were reduced to such an extent that the industry became virtually unprofitable.

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