New South Greenland
Benjamin Morrell claimed to have seen land in the Weddell Sea in 1823. The geography of the area at the time was almost completely unknown. Morrell’s account has been widely disputed. The existence of the land was emphatically disproved in the early 20th century.
About New South Greenland in brief
Benjamin Morrell claimed to have seen land in the Weddell Sea in 1823. The geography of the area at the time was almost completely unknown. Morrell’s account has been widely disputed. The existence of the land was emphatically disproved in the early 20th century. In 1912 the German explorer Wilhelm Filchner searched for but found no traces of land. Three years later, trapped in the same waters with his ship Endurance, Ernest Shackleton was able to confirm the land’s non-existence. In 1843 the distinguished British naval explorer James Clark Ross reported possible land in a position close to Morrell’s. This land, too, would eventually be proven not to exist. In the early 19th century the geography of Antarctica was almostcompletely unknown, though occasional sightings of land had been recorded. In his narrative, Morrell assigns the honour to his fellow sealing captain, Robert Johnson, for finding and naming the land two years earlier. The polar historian H. R. Mill notes that Morrell fails to mention its most singular characteristic—the permanent ice sheet that covers its surface. In addition to his sealing duties Morrell had, as he put it, ‘discretionary powers to prosecute new discoveries.’ He proposed to use this discretion to investigate the Antarctic seas and to ascertain the practicality of penetrating to the South Pole. This would be the first of four extended voyages that would keep Morrell at sea for most of the following eight years, although he would not revisit the Antarctic after the initial voyage.
The writer Rupert Gould points out that, according to his account, according to Morrell, a distance of more than 3,500 miles was covered in 23 days, including a stretch of 900 miles in four days. The voyage record of this voyage has been disputed, particularly his assertion that a distance of more than 2,000 miles was covered in just 23 days. In fact, the journey included a stretch of 900 miles in four days, and this included a lengthy stretch in which Morrell sailed westward back to Greenwich meridian, 0° 0°27’S. The ship anchored at Bouvet Island, 60 miles south-west of the island’s coastline, and Morrell wrongly records the position of this anchorage, giving a location in open sea about 60 miles south- west of the coast. In. his account Morrell describes his find briefly and prosaically, evidently seeking no personal credit or glory from the discovery. He may have been honestly mistaken, through miscalculation of his ship’s position or by misremembering detail when writing the account after nine years. However, he may have made the common error of confusing distant icebergs with land, or been misled by the distorting effects of Antarctic mirage. The claimed sighting of land was initially plausible, making the claimed sighting initially plausible. But obvious errors in his voyage account and his reputation as a fabulist created scepticism about the existence of this new land.