13 May 2022
#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.
I think we’ve established that it’s not easy to get to Antarctica. Ever since the Drake Passage opened ten million years ago, letting the Southern Ocean circle the Antarctic continent, it has rendered human arrival there perilous and arduous.
It was rough enough in 1773 when Captain Cook was the first European to cross the Antarctic Circle. It was rough in 1820 when three other Europeans caught sight of the continent — Nathaniel Palmer, a seal boat captain from my home state, Connecticut; Russian Captain Fabien (Thaddeus) Gottleib von Bellingshausen; and an Irish captain leading a British expedition, Edward Bransfield.
But were they really first? Maori oral traditions say no. Their history tells of Polynesian voyagers — famed for the navigational skills that led them from one end of the Pacific to the other — who described Antarctica’s seas, bergs, and wildlife.