French Antarctic Expedition

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French Antarctic Expedition refers to several French expeditions in Antarctica.

First expedition[edit]

Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen-Trémarec (February 13, 1734 - March 3, 1797) was a French explorer.

In 1772, Kerguelen-Trémarec and the naturalist Jean Guillaume Bruguière sailed to Antarctica in search of the fabled Terra Australis. There he took possession of various territories for France including what would later be called the Kerguelen Islands.

In his report to King Louis XV, he greatly overestimated the value of the Kerguelen Islands. Consequently, he was sent off on a second expedition to Kerguelen. When it had become clear that these islands were desolate, useless, and not the Terra Australis, he was sent to prison.

Second expedition[edit]

In 1837, while moving with an expedition led by Jules Dumont d'Urville, to the South Polar regions, Dumont d'Urville, sailed along a coastal area of Antarctica which later he named the Adélie Coast, in honor of his wife. During this expedition, Dumont d'Urville also led for the first time some experiments to determine the approximate position of the South magnetic pole, and landed on an islet of Geologie Archipelago, (66°36′19″S 140°4′0″E / 66.60528°S 140.06667°E / -66.60528; 140.06667) 4 km from the mainland where he took mineral and animal samples. Later, on his return in 1840 he was made rear admiral.

Third expedition[edit]

Jean-Baptiste Charcot was appointed leader of the French Antarctic Expedition, with the ship Français exploring the west coast of Graham Land, from 1904 until 1907. The expedition reached Adelaide Island in 1905 and took pictures of the Palmer Archipelago and Loubet Coast.

They roughly surveyed, the SW coast of Anvers Island in 1904. They gave the name "Presqu'ile de Biscoe" to a small peninsula on the SE side of Biscoe Bay, honoring John Biscoe who may have landed in the vicinity in 1832. Biscoe Point was the name applied to the rocky point found in the approximate location in 1955.

Loubet Land was explored in January 1905 and named after Émile Loubet, the then President of France.

Rabot Island was first charted by the expedition and named after Charles Rabot.

They mapped Watkins Island but did not name it. They also charted Arthur Harbor

Mount Francais (64°38′S 63°27′W / 64.633°S 63.450°W / -64.633; -63.450) in the Trojan Range was named after the expedition ship Français

Lavoisier Island was named 'Ile Nansen' after Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian Arctic explorer.

Bonaparte Point is located at 64°47′S 64°05′W / 64.783°S 64.083°W / -64.783; -64.083. Charted by the French Antarctic Expedition (1903-1905) and named by Jean-Baptiste Charcot for Prince Roland Bonaparte, then President of the Paris Geographical Society.

Logistics support for this expedition was provided by the Argentine Navy (Armada de la República Argentina), employing the legendary corvette ARA Uruguay.

Fourth expedition[edit]

From 1908 until 1910, another expedition commanded by Charcot followed with the ship Pourquoi-Pas ? IV, exploring the Bellingshausen Sea and the Amundsen Sea and discovering Loubet Land, Marguerite Bay and Charcot Island, which was named after him.

They wintered over aboard ship in a cove on the southeast side of Petermann Island, named Port Circumcision because it was spotted 1 January 1909, the traditional day for the Feast of the Circumcision.

Renaud Island was first charted and named.

Fallieres Coast was first explored in January 1909, and Charcot named it for Clement Armand Fallieres, then President of France.

Mikkelsen Bay was first seen from a distance in 1909, but it was not recognised as a bay. The Mikkelsen Islands were named after Otto Mikkelsen, Norwegian diver who inspected the damaged hull of the Pourquoi-Pas at Deception Island.

The name "Île Pavie" was given in 1909 to an island, or possible cape, shown on the French Antarctic Expedition maps in 68°27′ S 66°40′ W. From a position 15 miles[vague] southeast of Jenny Island, Maurice Bongrain, French Antarctic Expedition surveyor, made sketches of this feature which were labeled "Île Pavie" and "Cap Pavie". The area became known as Pavie Ridge.

Marguerite Bay was discovered in 1909 and Charcot named the bay after wife.

Jenny Island (Marguerite Bay) was discovered and named by Charcot for the wife of Sub-Lieutenant Maurice Bongrain, French Navy, second officer of the expedition.

Adelaide Island was first surveyed by the expedition. They also discovered Millerand Island, which was named probably for Alexandre Millerand, French statesman. Douglas Range was seen from a distance.

Rothschild Island was named after Baron Edouard Alphonse de Rothschild (1868-1949), head of the French branch of the Rothschild family and president of the Rothschild Brothers bank.

The northern portion of Wilkins Sound was first seen and roughly mapped in 1910 on the expedition.

See also[edit]