FIRST TO DISCOVER THE ANTARCTIC?
Bransfield Versus Bellingshausen
The controversy over whether it was Irishman, Edward Bransfield or the Russian Fabian von Bellingshausen, who first set eyes on the Antarctic mainland in 1820, has continued for 200 years.
Both Bransfield and Bellingshausen were sailing in Antarctic waters in January 1820, though their ships were hundreds of miles apart. On January 30th, Bransfield’s brig Williams suddenly encountered land. In the words of Midshipman Charles Poynter, “…we were astonished by the discovery of land…” Poynter’s clear description included the conclusive declaration: “We can positively assert that we saw land in 64°S still trending to the Eastward…”
Bransfield had discovered part of the Antarctic Peninsula which he named he named Trinity Land.