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The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition by Dr. David M. Munro, BSc, PhD, FRGS, FSA(Scot): 1 October 2002.

The Glasgow Meeting of the Scottish Region held on 1 October 2002 was addressed by Dr. David Munro of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society who gave an interesting and informative presentation on the work of the Society and in particular highlighted the Scotia Expedition of 1902 - 1904.

Dr. David Munro, of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.d

Dr. David Munro, of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

© John G. Fender 2010

Dr. Munro began by highlighting the number of Scots explorers who played a major part in the exploration of many parts of the world, notably Africa and North America. The Society still undertakes and funds expeditions to many parts of the world to this day.

The main part of Dr. Munro's talk concerned the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, led by Dr. William Spiers Bruce to the South Atlantic and Antarctica to undertake scientific research.

The expedition left Troon on 2 November 1902 aboard the "Scotia", a 140 foot sailing vessel, fitted with an auxiliary steam engine. The expedition was funded largely by James and Andrew Coats who owned the Coats textile company.

Arriving in Antarctic waters in February 1903, the ship was threatened by being surrounded by ice and Bruce retreated to the South Orkney Islands where a safe anchorage was found on 23 March 1903 in a bay that was named "Scotia Bay". During the following Antarctic summer, the expedition reached Coats Land and established what is now the oldest permanently staffed meteorological station in Antarctica at Laurie Island.

When the need for reprovisoning arose, Bruce sailed to the Falkland Islands, but was unable to secure any assistance. He proceeded to Argentina and succeeded in securing the necessary supplies. He forged links with Argentinean scientists and took a party of them to the South Orkney islands to work with members of the expedition whilst the Scotia spent time sailing in Antarctic waters carrying out research work.

After two years, the expedition returned to Scotland in early 1904, arriving at Millport in July to a civic welcome. The expedition had covered some 33,000 miles and accumulated much valuable research.

Report by John Fender.

 

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