JAMES COOK (British) (1728 – 1979)
He was one of the greatest navigators known to history. Though he made his mark as a explorer, cartographer and dietician, his fame largely rest as the explorer of the Pacific and Antartic Oceans. After eight years of experience with North Sea trading ships he joined the Royal Navy. A born leader, he rose rapidly. He saw action in the Seven Years war. In 1768 the Royal Society appointed Cook commander of the ‘Endeavour’ and charged him to convey gentleman of the Royal Society to Tahiti where they were to observe the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun. He was then to locate the so called Terra Australis which was thought to exist. He set out and found and chartered New Zealand. Besides he sighted the South East cost of Australia and landed at Botany Bay on 19 April 1770 and successfully navigated the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most navigational hazards of the world. During the voyage none of his crew died of scurvy, (by providing fresh vegetables for his crew) a remarkable achievement, considering the mortality rate that existed among the sailors at that time.
After his successful voyage Cook embarked on another, more ambitious venture of exploration and discovery. (1772-’75). He reached as far south as the Antartic Circle, charting Easter Island and most of the major island groups in the South Pacific.
Returning to England he was promoted to captain and was awarded a Copley medal for the paper which he presented on scurvy.
His last voyage (1776-’79) was an unsuccessful effort to discover a passage connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific, like a North-West passage around Canada and Alaska or a North-East one around Siberia. He discovered the Hawaiian Islands and charted the Bering Strait. During the course of this voyage he was killed by the natives of Hawaii.