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SGS090 Ships, Scientists & Explorers Definitive £0.70

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Ships, Scientists and Explorers

Bill Tilman 'Mischief' 1964

Bill Tilman was a well-known mountaineer who climbed extensively in the Himalayas, East Africa and elsewhere. He bought the pilot cutter Mischief so that he could sail to the Arctic and Antarctic in search of unconquered mountains to climb. In 1966 he sailed to the South Shetland Islands and returned northwards via South Georgia, where he spent four days at King Edward Point. Mischief was the first private yacht to visit South Georgia. Tilman went missing on a subsequent expedition to Antarctica, when the yacht En Avant disappeared on the way to the Falkland Islands.

Alister Hardy 'William Scoresby' 1927

Alister Hardy was employed as a zoologist with the Discovery Investigations in 1925. He studied the distribution of plankton, including krill, and attempted to relate this to the distribution of whales. To aid his work, he developed the 'continuous plankton recorder' which is still in use around South Georgia today. In 1927 Hardy transferred to William Scoresby (Captain Mercer) a new, fast vessel built along the lines of a whale-catcher. She would be employed for marking whales with numbered darts to study their migrations and as a research ship working with Discovery.

Stanley Kemp 'Discovery' 1925

Concern that whaling in the Southern Ocean was becoming unsustainable led to the Discovery Investigations, a pioneering long-term scientific programme to study whale biology and the oceanography and ecology of the Southern Ocean. The Discovery Investigations were funded by the tax on whale oil. Stanley Kemp was appointed Director of Research to establish and oversee the scientific programme. The first research vessel was Captain Scott's first expedition ship Discovery (Captain Stenhouse). In 1929, she was replaced by a steamship Discovery II. Cruises were centred around the whaling grounds of South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands where vast numbers of records were made and samples taken for later analysis. The last cruise was made in 1950/51 and the results were published in 38 large volumes.

Ernest Shackleton 'Endurance' 1914

The Weddell Sea party of Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard Endurance (Captain Worsley) visited South Georgia in November 1914. The main purpose of the visit was to take on coal and other stores and refit the ship before sailing for Antarctica. While in Buenos Aires, Shackleton was warned that it might be a bad year for ice in the Weddell Sea so he delayed his departure from South Georgia for a month. This gave time for scientific work to be carried out. Unfortunately most of the records and specimens were lost when Endurance was crushed by the ice and sank. After the Endurance was beset in the ice and the party made it to Elephant Island, Shackleton led the epic boat journey to South Georgia in the James Caird and then, together with Worsely and Crean, walked across the island to seek assistance for his stranded party. Shackleton returned to South Georgia aboard Quest on 4 January 1922 and died that night. He is buried in the Whalers' Cemetery in Grytviken.

Robert Cushman Murphy 'Daisy' 1912

Robert Cushman Murphy was one of the founders of seabird science. He travelled as a naturalist aboard Daisy, under the command of Benjamin Cleveland of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Daisy was the last of the old-time sealers and whalers to visit South Georgia. Over 1600 elephant seals were killed for their blubber and whales were hunted from open boats on the voyages to and from South Georgia. Murphy made extensive collections of animals and plants, including over 100 bird skins, and he also observed the habits of the birds.

Wilhelm Filchner 'Deutschland' 1911

Wilhelm Filchner's German South Polar Expedition spent three weeks at South Georgia en route to Antarctica. They made scientific observations and hydrographic surveys of coastal waters which resulted in a much improved chart of South Georgia. Deutschland (Captain Vahsel) also made a brief visit to the South Sandwich Islands but bad weather prevented a landing. Ice conditions prevented a land station being established on the southern coast of the Weddell Sea and Deutschland was trapped in the pack-ice for the winter. When freed, she returned to South Georgia where she left the expedition's polar equipment, ponies and dogs in the hope that they could be used by a subsequent expedition.

Otto Nordenskjöld 'Antarctic' 1902

The Swedish South Polar Expedition was led by Otto Nordenskjöld, a geologist who had earlier worked in Patagonia. He set up a shore station on Snow Hill Island and his ship Antarctic (Captain C.A. Larsen) returned northwards to spend three months at South Georgia. A number of places were explored and scientific work undertaken. The first fossil found on South Georgia was extracted from a rock with the aid of explosives. A newly-discovered bay was named Grytviken (Pot Cove) on account of the seven sealers' try-pots found there. Larsen realised that this sheltered bay would make an excellent site for a whaling station and returned two years later to initiate the whaling industry on South Georgia.

Carl Anton Larsen 'Jason' 1894

Carl Anton Larsen was a Norwegian whaler who made contributions to Antarctic geography and science as well as laying the foundations of the Antarctic whaling industry. He made two cruises to the Weddell Sea in Jason to search for right whales. On the second cruise, in 1894, Jason made a brief visit to South Georgia, in the company of Hertha (Captain Evensen) and Castor (Captain Pedersen). Both cruises were commercial failures but Larsen noted the large numbers of rorqual whales in the waters around South Georgia. He returned in 1904 with Rolf, Louise and the whale-catcher Fortuna to build the whaling station at Grytviken, the first whaling station on South Georgia.

Karl Schrader 'Moltke' 1882

The German International Polar Year Expedition arrived at South Georgia aboard the corvette Moltke (Captain Pirner) and set up a shore station at Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay. Eleven men overwintered in the first land-based scientific expedition on South Georgia. It was part of a worldwide programme of mainly geophysical studies which included an observation of the Transit of Venus. This is a rare event and which allows an accurate calculation of the distance between the Sun and Earth. Many other observations were made of meteorology, geology and biology. The expedition was relieved by the corvette Marie (Captain Krokisius) in 1883.

James Weddell 'Jane' 1823

The sealer James Weddell made one of the most significant early visits to South Georgia. He took his vessel, Jane, together with the cutter Beaufoy (Captain Brisbane), far south into the Weddell Sea which is named after him. South Georgia was visited on the way northward to hunt fur and elephant seals. Weddell's book about the voyage describes the topography of South Georgia, the operations of the sealers in detail, the first record of seismic activity and gives accounts of the habits of seals, penguins and albatrosses. He suggested that there is a geological link between South America and Antarctica through South Georgia. This is now recognised as the Scotia Arc.

Fabian von Bellingshausen 'Vostok' 1819

The Russian Naval Expedition under the command of Fabian Bellingshausen consisted of two vessels, the sloop Vostok (Captain Zavodovskiy) and the transport Mirnyy (Captain Lazarev). The objective was to sail as close to the South Pole as possible. They reached South Georgia on their way to Antarctica and surveyed the south coast to complement Cook’s survey of the northern coast. The South Sandwich Islands were also visited and more islands discovered. Bellingshausen then proceeded to circumnavigate Antarctica and is credited with making the first sighting of mainland Antarctica. The expedition is remembered in a number of Russian place names in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

James Cook 'Resolution' 1775

In the course of the voyage that made the first circumnavigation of Antarctica, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy headed for land which had been reported 100 years earlier. The first landing was made at Possession Bay and Resolution proceeded along the coast. The crew hoped that they had discovered the continent of Antarctica but when they reached Cape Disappointment they realised they had found only a large island. Detailed descriptions of the island and its natural history were made and observations of numerous fur and elephant seals led to their exploitation by sealers. After leaving what he called 'the Isle of Georgia', Cook sailed south-east and discovered the South Sandwich Islands.

Text provided by Robert Burton, South Georgia Association.

Technical Details

Designer Andrew Robinson

Printer BDT International

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 14 per 2cms

Stamp size 28.45 x 42.58mm

Sheet Layout 10

Release date 5 January, 2014

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd


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