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Irish explorers almost killed themselves to reach this island ... Now, it's on Google Street View

Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean risked their lives sailing to the isolated island of South Georgia — before crossing its hostile landscape to seek help for their stranded crewmates.

EVER HEARD OF South Georgia?

The tiny, sub-Antarctic island doesn’t often crop up on those ‘places to see before you die’ lists.

That said — it may ring a bell for readers familiar with the ‘Golden Age of Exploration’ exploits of the likes of Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean.

The two Irishmen — commander and crewman, respectively on the grandly-titled but ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition — landed, exhausted on the rocky isle in May 1916, having staged one of the most daring sea-voyages of all time.

Source: ... Tom Crean [By Permission: Shackleton Exhibition]

You’ve probably heard the story —  after setting out, in 1914, to cross the Antarctic continent from sea-to-sea, Shackleton and his crew were forced to abandon their ship after it was trapped and crushed by ice.

With no other options available, they undertook a perilous open-boat trip to safety, before setting up a makeshift camp on a rocky Antarctic outcrop known (rather inaccurately) as ‘Elephant Island’.

Shackleton, Crean and four others then set out across the open seas, hoping to seek help some 1,300km away on the remote island of South Georgia.

The subsequent journey has become the stuff of legend — as Shackleton led a 26-mile trek across the island’s hostile landscape, which had never been traversed before.

Accounts of the journey tell how Shackleton — then a world-famous figure — was unrecognisable when he showed up at the ‘Stromness’ whaling station on the far side of the island, covered in blubber-smoke, with long hair and beard.

Anyway — thanks to a new project, the landscapes of the tiny island are now visible on Google Street View. 

Right Whale Bay

Hercules Bay

Ernest Shackleton’s Grave

An expedition mounted by Google, Linblad Expeditions and National Geographic mapped the island in March of this year — as a videographer armed with a backpack-mounted camera traversed it, yielding more than 10,000 shots at nine locations.

And as their PR blurb notes, you can now…

Get up close with colonies of thousands of penguins, nesting albatross, enormous elephant seals lolling on the beach, dramatic landscapes of snowcapped mountains and tussock grasses, and much more.

Even if you’ve no interest in Antractic explorers — but just enjoy pretty pictures of seals and penguins, it’s still well worth a look.

We lost a good 45 minutes to it.

Source: Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic/YouTube

Read: Here’s what Tom Crean and friends were having for dinner, inching through the ice 99 years ago today…

Read: Irish adventurers return from Arctic with stunning photos, mild sea-sickness

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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