Antarctica, Penetration of the Continent 1897-1928: routes of early explorers at sea and on land.
1914: Sketch map of the Antarctic Contents
Sir John Ross - Scientist of the Day
John Ross, an officer in the Royal Navy, was born June 24, 1777. He was chosen in 1818 by John Barrow of the Admiralty to command the first of the modern searches for the Northwest Passage (Barrow was our Scientist of the Day for June 19, 2014). Ross took his ship, HMS Isabella, up Baffin Bay, all the way to the entrance of the Arctic archipelago, which was called Lancaster Sound. He then declared that the Sound was blocked by a chain of mountains (which he named the Croker mountains), and he turned around and came home, much to the surprise of his junior officers, who could not see the mountains at all. Barrow was furious with Ross, and guaranteed that he would never get another command (which he did not). Barrow promptly sent Ross’s second-in-command, Edward Parry, back the next year, and Parry sailed right though the phantom Croker mountains and made it half-way across Canada. However, Ross’s book about his voyage of 1818 was a beautiful production and shows that he did far more than twiddle his thumbs up there in Baffin Bay, even if he did turn back prematurely. All the images on this page were taken from his book, A Voyage of Discovery (1819). We displayed this work in our 2008 exhibition, Ice: A Victorian Romance, where you can see some other images from this pioneering work.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Cross Island bowhead whale harvest, 2009
Each year around September, the people of Nuiqsut venture out into open waters to harvest bowhead whale. Once struck and killed, the whale is pulled ashore to the gravel beaches of Cross Island where it can be processed. This is done by removing the blubber and skin in thick sections.
- Tavsi – middle portion of the whale; “belt”
- Niniq – front of the whale
- Uati – rear of the whale
- Muktuk – fresh skin and blubber
- Unalik – boiled skin and blubber
- Umaliq – boat captain
- Umiak – open skin boat
- One flipper goes to the harpooner.
- Half of the baleen goes to the umaliq.
- Tavsi feeds the village immediately after the kill.
- Niniq goes to the crews that helped catch the whale.
- Utai is the communal portion of the whale served at holidays.
- The remainder of the whale is disposed of in the “bone yard” which will often receive visits from polar bear.
- Successful crews will return to Nuiqsut and fly their crew flag.
Galginaitis, Michael. 2010. Annual Assessment of Subsistence Bowhead Whaling Near Cross Island, 2009: Continuation of Monitoring Activities Annual Report. Prepared for US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region. Anchorage, AK. Contract Number: M08PC20029.