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Where Swedish polar research began: the Linnaean apostle Anton Rolandson Martin's voyage to Spitsbergen in 1758

  • Jonas Hagström (a1)

In 1758 the renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus sent his student Anton Rolandson Martin to the Arctic on-board a whaler to collect scientific specimens. He became the first Swedish scientist to sail these northern waters and to set foot on Spitsbergen. But what route did the ship take and where exactly did he land? By using a combination of geographical information in Martin's diary together with latitude and wind directions from his meteorological records the ship's voyage has been reconstructed. The whaler set course directly to the west coast of Spitsbergen and then patrolled waters from there to the eastern flank of the ice fields off Greenland. The ship then returned to Spitsbergen as the whaling season drew to an end. Martin got the chance to set foot on land only once and for just two hours. After recent field work at the presumed locality 258 years after Martin's visit, his descriptions of the islets were checked and a first-hand comparison was made between the rock sample Martin brought home and the local bedrock. The author is now confident that the landing took place on Forlandsøyane islands, situated off the southwestern coast of Prins Karls Forland.

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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
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