Antarctica is the world's newest continent, having been discovered only a few years ago. Many years passed before the more daring explorers began their search for this Unknown South Land, which they dubbed the "Unknown South Land." It was not until the seventeenth century that they began their search for this "Unknown South Land," which they dubbed the "Unknown South Land." When Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, he speculated that the islands might be the northernmost part of the continent. However, when Captain James Cook sailed all the way around New Zealand in the late eighteenth century, he proved that this was not the case.
Even though Cook is credited with being the first known person to sail south of the Antarctic Circle, it was not until another fifty years later that the first land was discovered south of the circle. The Russian Admiral Bellingshausen discovered what is now known as Peter I Island, which is located in the Arctic Ocean. At least according to what we know, the first sighting of the Antarctic continent occurred in January 1820.
However, it is possible that sailors had seen the continent earlier than this but had either failed to recognise what they were seeing or had never returned to tell the tale. The crew of the brig Williams, under the command of Capt. Edward Bransfield, R.N., made the first sighting of the northern portion of the great Antarctic peninsula at that time. Following this, seal boats and naval vessels were dispatched to many other parts of the continent to survey the landscape.
Capt. James Clark Ross made a significant discovery in 1841 that changed the course of history in terms of landing on Antarctica and exploring the interior of the continent. Ross's two ships broke through the pack ice that had blocked all approaches to Antarctica from all directions, and he discovered the mountainous region of the continent's north-east. Victoria Land and continued sailing southward until he came up against a solid wall of ice that is now known as the Ross Ice Shelf, which blocked his path. This section of the ocean, named the Ross Sea after its discoverer, cuts deep into the continent and was to be used repeatedly by Antarctic explorers as the most advantageous starting point for their attempts to reach the South Pole.
The sailors who embarked on these first expeditions must have endured a great deal of hardship in exchange for a pittance of compensation. Even if they were successful in forcing a ship through the pack-ice, they would then have to navigate a sea swarming with icebergs, some of which were hundreds of metres (10 hundred feet) in length and rose 30 metres (10 hundred feet) out of the water. When they arrived, they were probably taken aback by the amount of wildlife they encountered on the property. The penguins, which are the most distinctively Antarctic of these creatures, are the most common. Some Emperor penguins stand as tall as 12 metres (4 feet) and weigh as much as 45 kilogrammes (100 lb). The smaller Adelie penguins, which are more common, can be found in large numbers along the entire coast.
You can see Weddell seals lying on the ice or sleeping on an ice flow, and killer whales can be seen hunting in this area as well, according to the National Geographic Society. The first known landing on the Antarctic continent was made in 1895 by a Norwegian named J. H. Bull from a wooden sailing boat, and the first known exploratory expedition, led by Robert Falcon Scott, set out in 1901.
Their ship, the Discovery, was moored in McMurdo Sound and allowed to freeze in, and the crew of fifty people lived on board for the duration of the Antarctic winter. During the month of November 1902, three members of the party — Scott, Dr. Wilson, and Lieut. Shackle- tonne — began sledding southward across the ice shelf. In the end, because they were unfamiliar with sledging, the dogs that they had brought to pull the sledges failed to perform as expected, and the men were forced to haul the sledges themselves. It took them 610 kilometres (380 miles) to travel south in this manner, and they saw no signs of the ice shelf coming to an end.
However, their food was running low, and Shackleton was becoming ill. They were forced to turn around, and after thirty-four days on the road, they finally arrived at the ship. Shackleton and several other members of the crew were able to be evacuated when a relief ship arrived in January 1903. However, the Discovery was stuck in the ice so quickly that Scott and the rest of the crew determined that they would have to spend another winter there. At the very least, it provided them with the opportunity to continue their explorations the following summer.
Scott and two other companions ascended the Farrar Glacier and sledged across the high plateau for approximately 320 kilometres (about 240 miles) (200 miles). The Discovery was finally set free at the start of the year. The intrepid explorer was determined to return to Antarctica, despite his terrifying experiences on the previous expedition, and attempt to get closer to the South Pole once more. This time, a hut was built for Shackleton and his fourteen companions not far from where the Discovery had wintered, so that they could live together.
Their ship made its way back to New Zealand for the season. In the year 61, Shackleton set out with Adams and Wild along the same route that he had taken with Scott, and the expedition made excellent progress for a time. Rather than using dogs to pull the sledges this time, he used four Manchurian ponies to pull them. Soon after, they reached the point where Scott was forced to turn around, but they were alarmed to see the mountains that stood between them and the high plateau that they would need to reach if they were going to make it to the Pole. To get across this chain, they had to ascend a glacier, which is now known as the Beardmore Glacier, which they had to do by hand.
As a result of their last remaining pony falling down a crevass and becoming lost, the men were forced to pull their own sledges in addition to everything else they were carrying. The team did make it to the summit and the great flat plain of ice that lies 3,00om (10,000 ft) above sea level, despite the difficulties. They were now within striking distance of the Pole, but their food supplies were running low, and with only 157 kilometres (97 miles) left to travel, they were forced to turn around. Even so, it was not certain that they would be able to make it back to base due to the fact that they had been working extremely hard for very little food.
It was not uncommon for them to eat only one biscuit per meal, and if they had not stopped at one of the food depots they had stopped at on the way out, they would have starved. In the end, Shackleton and Wild were forced to make a desperate march back to base and dispatch a rescue party to locate and rescue the other two survivors. Scott returned to the Antarctic in the Terra Nova ship in January 1911, after a year-long absence. The task of preparing depots for the long journey to the Pole was delegated to various groups. A second group of explorers arrived on the other side of the Ross Sea with the intention of competing to reach the North Pole, which was discovered later. Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, was in charge of this expedition. November 191I marked the beginning of Scott's main expedition.
It was a party of sixteen that set out on their journey, which also included two motorised sledges, 10 ponies, and two dog teams. The motors failed soon after, and the dog teams were forced to turn around at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, where they had started. It became necessary to shoot the ponies at some point. With only eight men pulling two sledges when the expedition reached the Polar Plateau, it was time to call it quits. Shortly afterward, the last supporting party of three departed, leaving the remaining five to make one final attempt to reach the Pole, which was still about 210 kilometres (130 miles) away.
This occurred on the 5th of January. By the 14th, they were 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the finish line, but it became clear on the 16th that they would never be the first people to reach the North Pole. The path they were on was marked by a black flag flown by Amundsen before them, and when they reached the Pole two days later, they discovered a note written by Amundsen for them to take with them. The journey back home was a series of mishaps that followed one another. Evans fell while they were descending the glacier and suffered a concussion, which resulted in his death within a few hours.
The party then moved slowly across the Ice Shelf, fatigued and hungry as a result of illness and hunger. When Oates, one of the party members, was unable to pull the sledge because of severely frostbitten feet, he walked out of his tent into a blizzard one night, not realising that he was holding the others up. He was never seen again. On the 19th of March, the remaining three were only 18 kilometres (1 mile) from One Ton Depot, which had plenty of food and fuel, but they were caught in a blizzard at that point. The blizzard kept them confined to their tents for day after day, and they eventually became too exhausted to move, even if the blizzard had stopped.
Each of them wrote farewell letters to their friends, and Scott wrote down his memorable Message to the Public:
"We are weak, and writing is difficult, but for my own sake, I do not regret embarking on this journey."
If we had survived, I would have had a storey to tell about the tenacity, endurance, and courage of my companions, a storey that would have moved the hearts of all Englishmen.
'These scribbled notes, as well as our dead bodies, must tell this storey.'
Once the South Pole had been reached, the last major goal of the Antarctic explorers was to cross the continent of Antarctica, which they accomplished in 1845. Shackleton attempted to accomplish this in 1914, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Dr. V. E. Fuchs and his Sno-cats made the journey in 1957-58, but it took another forty years for them to be successful in their endeavour. We've already talked about some of the animals that can be found in the Antarctic, with the penguin being the most notable of them. The Emperor penguin lays its eggs in the depths of winter, and it hatches the egg by holding it up against a bare patch of skin on its breast while standing on its hind legs and feet.
Because the mother bird moves out across the ice to open water as soon as she has laid her eggs, it is the male bird who is responsible for all of the incubating while standing on the ice. This means that the father is left alone to take care of the egg for the entire sixty-day incubation period, during which time he receives no food whatsoever, and all this in climatic conditions that would cause a man's skin to freeze in ninety seconds. Another common bird is the skua, which is a large gull that preys on the penguins' eggs and chicks, among other things. In contrast to the penguin, he does not display the same level of friendliness and becomes extremely agitated if a human intrudes upon his breeding grounds. Snow-white petrels can occasionally be seen flying over the coast.
There were still large numbers of blue fin and hump-backed whales in the waters of the Antarctic before World War II, but stocks have now been severely depleted as a result of modern whaling methods, and conservationists are attempting to reach an international agreement on the limitation of permitted catches of these whales. The whales' primary source of nutrition is plankton, which is abundant in the southern ocean during the summer months. Some seal species are still abundant, despite the fact that the valuable fur seals have been almost completely exterminated.
Crab-eater seals can be found in large numbers in the pack-ice, and Weddell seals can be found on the coast in large numbers. Inland, there is virtually no animal life to be found whatsoever. Antarctica, contrary to popular belief, is neither silent nor entirely white in appearance. In addition to the shricking and howling, the blizzards also produce cracking and creaking in the ice fields. The ice itself may be blue rather than white, and the sky may be blue rather than white, though it is frequently a blaze of fiery reds and yellows, or, during the winter nights, streaked with a curtain of shimmering colours known as the Aurora Australis, which is a curtain of shimmering colours. It is, without a doubt, a very cold continent. Even on a hot summer day at the McMurdo Sound, the temperature would be around -4 degrees Celsius, whereas during the winter, temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius of frost are not uncommon on Ross Island, and some members of Scott's last expedition experienced temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius of frost.
Blizzards are perhaps the most dangerous of the many threats to survival faced by men attempting to live in the Antarctic, if only because of their unpredictability. Certain locations in Antarctica are susceptible to hurricane-force winds erupting within minutes of being established. It is impossible to see more than an arm's length in front of you because of the dense, fine drift snow they are transporting. It also drifts into everything because of the fineness of the drift snow they transport. During Sir Douglas Mawson's Adelie Land base in 1912-15, he recorded an average wind velocity of 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour); at times, there were gusts of 320 kilometres per hour (200 m.p.h.).
Water vapour precipitation in the form of rain is extremely rare on the Ross Ice Shelf, and snow precipitation is surprisingly low; the estimated average annual snowfall on the Ross Ice Shelf is 33 metres (13 in). From the end of September to the beginning of February, the sun shines continuously for the entire twenty-four hour period at McMurdo Sound. In the following weeks and months, it begins to sink lower and lower into the horizon for an increasingly longer period of time each day, until by mid-April, it is no longer visible at all, with only a faint glow on the horizon at midday.