Swedish Antarctic Expedition

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The Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–1904) was led by Otto Nordenskjöld and Carl Anton Larsen.

Snow Hill Island, January 1999


Otto Nordenskjöld, a Swedish geologist and geographer, organized and led a scientific expedition of the Antarctic Peninsula. The command was placed under an experienced Antarctic explorer Carl Anton Larsen, who served as the captain of the ship Antarctic, and who had previously commanded a whaling reconnaissance mission in 1892-93. Seven other scientists along with 16 officers and men also made the voyage. On October 16, 1901 the Antarctic captained by Carl Anton Larsen left Gothenburg harbor on Nordenskjold’s Antarctic expedition.

Despite its end and the great hardships endured, the expedition would be considered a scientific success, with the parties having explored much of the eastern coast of Graham Land, including Cape Longing, James Ross Island, the Joinville Island group, and the Palmer Archipelago. The expedition, which also recovered valuable geological samples and samples of marine animals, earned Nordenskjöld lasting fame at home, but its huge cost left him greatly in debt.

Two key Antarctic islands are associated with the expedition. The first is Snow Hill Island, where Otto Nordenskjöld and five of his colleagues spent two winters (one of them planned and the second forced by the sinking of the relief ship Antarctic). The second is Paulet Island where the crew of the Antarctic were stranded from February 1903 until November 1903. The expedition was rescued by the Argentinian naval vessel Uruguay.

Snow Hill Island[edit]

On his way to Snow Hill Island in 1901, Nordenskjöld had passed through Buenos Aires, where the Argentine government gave him supplies and other assistance on the condition that he include in his wintering-over party a young Argentine naval officer, Lieutenant José Sobral. The American artist F. W. Stokes also joined the expedition and spent two years with Nordenskjöld at Snow Hill Island. In 1903 the Argentine government organized a rescue effort with the corvette ARA Uruguay, which successfully brought back all the surviving members of the Nordenskjöld party.

Paulet Island[edit]

After their ship sank, crushed by the ice about 25 miles away, the twenty men from the Antarctic landed here in their lifeboat and built a sturdy double-walled stone hut whose remains are clearly visible today. Apart from the limited supplies they brought from the Antarctic, they survived on the thousand or so penguins they killed, as well as the birds' eggs.

Paulet Island, December 2004

See also[edit]


  • Antarctica. Sydney: Reader's Digest, 1985, pp. 152–159.
  • Child, Jack. Antarctica and South American Geopolitics: Frozen Lebensraum. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1988, pp. 69, 72.
  • Lonely Planet, Antarctica: a Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit, Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet Publications, 1996, p. 302.
  • Stewart, Andrew, Antarctica: An Encyclopedia. London: McFarland and Co., 1990 (2 volumes).
  • U.S. National Science Foundation, Geographic Names of the Antarctic, Fred G. Alberts, ed. Washington: NSF, 1980.

Other Reading[edit]

  • Nordenskiöld, Otto Antarctica: or, Two years amongst the ice of the South Pole (Macmillan. 1905)

External links[edit]